The United Kingdom's Department for Transport this week unveiled a new strategy for the country that featured proposals for encouraging driverless cars, drones and even commercial spaceports.
Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin was quoted as saying "Driverless cars and commercial space flight might seem like something science fiction, but the economic potential of the new technology is huge and I am determined the UK gets maximum benefit."
In the world of industrial motor control we need to deal with fact more than science fiction, but the pressure to automate and innovate is relentless. These trends, embodied in the concept of Industry 4.0, means we have to reimagine the role of established technologies in industrial applications, and that includes the application of soft starters.
Smarter soft starters are crucial in this Industry 4.0 environment. They need to integrate easily and intelligently with industrial systems. With the right technical capability soft starters can move from being a smart and efficient way to start and control a motor, to a method for controlling a whole system. By connecting directly to other devices in a system, e.g. pressure, flow, and depth sensors in a pumping application, a starter can make a real difference by becoming one central point of intelligent control and communications.
Applications that are could really see immediate gains from a smarter control approach include:
- Air compressors
- Commercial HVACR equipment
- Water, sewage, purification, collection & distribution equipment
- Irrigation equipment
- Crude petroleum & natural gas extraction equipment
- Lumber and sawmilling equipment
- Aggregate processing equipment
- Cement plant equipment
An 'industry 4.0' soft starter is simpler as well as smarter. Easier for technicians to understand and setup, easier to communicate with electronically, and offering automation features that make an engineer's life easier.
It might not be as glamorous as commercial spaceflight, but smarter motor control has the potential to have a much wider effect on the world and how we manage crucial industrial processes.
We discuss some of these issues in our white paper "Industry 4.0 and the implications for industrial motor control". Download a copy now to learn more.