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Get ready for IE3

Get ready for IE3 Are you ready for IE3? Although mainly affecting manufacturers, the new regulations have some significant implications for everyone in the supply chain, as Ian Allan of ABB explains.

Although 1st January 2015 seems a long way off, there are only 18 months to go to a time when IE3 (International Efficiency Class 3) motors become mandatory. As specified in EC regulation 640/2009 [see boxed item below], any motors placed on the market after this date, with a rated output between 7.5 to 375kW, will need to have a minimum efficiency class of IE3, or a minimum of IE2 if they are operated with a variable-speed drive (VSD). From 1st January 2017, the regulations will also apply to motors rated up to 7.5 kW.

So, what are the considerations that manufacturers, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), machine builders, systems integrators and end users need to take into account to have a successful transition to the new world of IE3?

The introduction of mandatory IE3 certainly sets the benchmark for motor manufacturers, and with it could come the perception that all motors are now manufactured with the highest quality materials. However, there will still be market differentiation as manufacturers appeal to OEMs, machine builders, system integrators and end-users on other aspects of their motor offer, such as high reliability, service contracts and technical and installation support.

There is also a cost implication. The change to IE3 means a significant investment for manufacturers and while production processes may not change much, there will be costs for redesign of products, new tooling and increased use of more expensive material.

OEMs and machine builders
Although the regulations mainly affect motor manufacturers, they have implications for the range of motors that OEMs can get from their regular supplier. The availability of a full range of IE3 motors from a single vendor will be especially beneficial for OEMs, especially those with a significant presence in Europe. OEMs should be gearing up to use IE3 motors in their machines or applications and should be specific with their suppliers about what they want and what they do not want. For instance, with constant torque applications, where there may be no need to turn down the speed, fitting an IE2 motor and a VSD may not be cost-effective.

They should also look at how the change will affect their logistics and supply chain. For instance, IE3 motors may be larger than equivalent IE2 motors. Some redesign of product ranges may be necessary to take account of new motor frame sizes, length and fixings.

Machine builders should start the changeover to IE3 motors right now, as this will give maximum time for possible constructional changes to machines and plants. The earlier the planning begins, the less chance there is of delivery bottlenecks.

Systems integrators
For system integrators, some of the main issues include:
  • A preference today for IE3 motors for high duty applications, even before they become mandatory. Doing this will help the future compliance of your design
  • Focus on energy consumption - use motor starters where they offer the most efficient solution, for example, in fixed speed, constant load or low duty applications
  • Apply VSDs in applications where they bring added value such as process improvement and/or a significant energy saving.

From the end-users' point of view, IE3 motors typically carry a 10 to 20% premium above the purchase cost of IE2 motors, but offer an attractive payback of this extra cost in a little under two years. Take for example, a typical 200kW 4-pole motor, running at 8,000 hours a year with an electricity cost of 8p/kWhr. An IE2 motor would cost £133,890 in annual running costs, while the IE3 would cost £132,640, providing a saving of £1,250 a year or £104 a month. The payback for the premium would be well below two years. The crux is that the end-user pays the electricity bill, so anything that can reduce that cost is well worth having.

Motor management
Another important aspect for end-users is the management of their motors and the policies that govern this. Now is an ideal time for end-users to review their motor management policy and it certainly should be reviewed if hasn't been in the last three or four years. One of the major changes should be to your procurement policy, explicitly stating that IE3 motors are preferred. In the past, IE3 motors were not readily available but are now much easier to procure in the event of a breakdown. When looking at the motors currently installed, those working for 7,000 to 8,000 hours a year should receive particular attention. These are costing the most and may be due for replacement, so are ideal candidates for replacing with IE3 standard motors.

Motor management can be a simple process to implement. The first thing is to specify the motor you require, in this case IE3 efficiency. Check your existing spares, as it would not be beneficial to replace a failed motor with an inefficient motor. If a motor is rewound, take note of this and ensure the repair is performed according to best practice guidelines. Be proactive not reactive, on critical plant, ask yourself 'what would I do if this failed' and have a plan in place.

The central message here is that all parties need to meet with their suppliers and decide now how the regulations will affect them and what purchasing strategy will be best. The regulations are coming and putting off these crucial decisions is not an option.
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