Newsletter about drive technology in factory automation

Sustainability in automation

From sizing to component options

The purpose of this article is to present some basic approaches to the possibilities for greater sustainability in mechanical engineering. In further articles, we will go into more detail on the individual topics.

End customer specifications or supplier lists may make commercial or technical sense at first glance. However, at the same time, this always limits the view to what is already known. Alternative solutions, which might be more sustainable or efficient, are not considered. The result is compromises in size, efficiency, sustainability and cost.

One advantage of PM synchronous motors, in addition to their higher efficiency, is their low moment of inertia, which has a positive effect on energy consumption, especially in the case of intermitting application. Since permanent magnets made of rare earths are mostly used in these motors, the share of gray energy in these motors is not insignificant and should be taken into account in sustainability considerations.

A DC link system of drive controllers enables the mutual exchange of energy between axes which act as generators and axes which draw energy. This reduces the energy consumption and can contribute to lower costs for components such as mains isolators, filters, etc.

Capacitor storage modules or super caps are connected to the DC link of inverters and absorb kinetic energy generated by a motor in regenerative operation. Such storage modules feed the stored energy back into the DC link as soon as energy is required by the drive train.

With feed-in and regenerative systems, energetically optimized solutions are available that make it possible for energy to be balanced within a system or for excess power to be fed back directly into the supply network. For larger drives, this can be a cost- and energy-efficient solution instead of storage modules.