ATTENTION! Motor efficiency laws may catch OEMs out

Posted on 15 Jan 2011 by The Manufacturer

Up to one third of Europe’s equipment OEMs are unaware that new legislation mandating minimum electric motor efficiency levels will come into force across the EU in June 2011.

The new rules, which set minimum efficiency ratings for three-phase AC motors in the most common power range for industrial motors, have potentially serious consequences for machinery OEMs’ sales and market share, says Baldor, a manufacturer of motion controllers and servo drives.

The situation is further complicated by the EISA minimum efficiency regulations from the US, which came into force in December 2010.

Pooling feedback at exhibitions and customer comments, Baldor believes that as much as one third of the EU’s OEMs are still either wholly or partially unaware that new general-purpose AC motors installed from June must meet a minimum efficiency of IE2.

IE2 is equivalent to the previous CEMEP ‘EFF1’ standard.

Most OEMs currently use lower efficiency EFF3- or EFF2- grade AC motors. Transitioning equipment designs with higher efficiency motors can involve physical and mechanical interface changes, changes to rotational speeds, and changes to thermal issues and starting behaviour. These issues can have a big effect on equipment OEMs, who might need from several weeks to three months or more to make the upgrade.

“We’re sending an S.O.S message to European OEMs that if they do not start considering the impact of motor efficiency regulations immediately, then there could be negative implications for their sales and market share,” says Robin Cowley, industrial marketing manager for Baldor Europe.

“And when OEMs think about the upgrade to IE2 efficiency levels, we are also suggesting that they consider their strategy for the IE3 efficiency level that’s coming down the track, because if they don’t their competitors might steal a march.”

Most end users of automation are becoming seriously worried about their energy costs. Many are also currently putting strong environmental care plans into place. Given this market situation, Robin Cowley thinks that OEMs who start to offer the best efficiency levels available – IE3 – could see their market share grow at the expense of those who merely offer the minimum required.

The USA’s recent Energy Independence Security Act (EISA), which came into force in December, complicates the issue. EISA mandates a minimum efficiency level of ‘NEMA Premium’ for motors imported into the USA.

NEMA Premium is equivalent to IE3, which is not due to come into force in the EU until 2015. Mr Cowley expects that some USA OEMs could be adopting NEMA Premium as their standard offering for international sales as well. This means that much imported equipment could offer end users a significantly faster payback in terms of reduced energy consumption than equipment sourced from the EU.

“Where a motor is only a small proportion of some larger equipment – on a conveyor system for example – US competitors have the opportunity to offer premium efficiency as standard,” says Cowley. “This potentially puts them in a position to gain market share here in Europe.”

For more information on motor efficiency and upgrade transitions, go to