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Interview with Control Techniques, daughter of Emerson Industrial Automation

How the unified frequency converter family Unidrive M from Control Techniques lowers engineering expenses

Several automation manufacturers supported the market survey from Quest TechnoMarketing about the engineering of the automation technology in the German machinery industry, among them Control Techniques, Hennef. Thomas Quest interviews Rainer Crevecoeur, General Manager Germany, Dr. Holger Koenig, Head of Sales Manufacturing Germany and Ulrich Buhr, Head of Sales Automation Solutions Germany, about the engineering of drive solutions on the side-lines of a sales conference.

Foto Dr. Holger Koenig, Rainer Crevecoeur, Ulrich Buhr
Dr. Holger Koenig (left), Rainer Crevecoeur (centre), Ulrich Buhr (right)

Mr. Crevecoeur, Dr. Koenig, Mr. Buhr, Control Techniques supported the comprehensive market survey about the engineering of the machine automation in the German machinery industry until 2017 by Quest TechnoMarketing. Why?

Product development based on market investigations

The opinion of the customers is important for CT. The new global frequency converter family Unidrive M, presented one year ago, was based on international market investigations.

Foto Dr. Holger Koenig
Dr. Holger Koenig, Head of Sales Manufacturing Germany

During the product development Emerson Industrial Automation, our parent enterprise, proceeded first from the highest technological status and developed this stage furthermore by over 30 patent requests.

Then the crucial point arrived: how are function variety and performance to be structured on the highest level in such a way, so that the machine-builder can lower its costs, increase its flexibility and the end-user can minimize its downtimes.

The result is Unidrive M, a modular structured, six-level frequency converter family for 0.25kW to 2.8MW with asynchronous, synchronous and servo motor, linear actuators and AFE, completely unified structured, hardware adapted to applications, programming based on Codesys, with numerous technology modules and adaptable to almost all applications and requirements via option modules.

This entire concept significantly reduces engineering expenses of both machine-builders and end-users.  

In the survey machine-builders indicated the development of their engineering expenses in the last years. We will shortly come back to this point. First I would like to tie to your statement about Unidrive M. This is a drive system with a related engineering system. The survey, however, showed that the majority of the machine-builders expect an engineering system that covers all functional areas, i.e. drives, control system, HMI, Safety etc. Doesn't a gap pop up at this point?

Emerson Industrial Automation: On the path from drive supplier to automation partner

This result of the survey did not surprise us, in fact we felt being confirmed and indeed, this is a crucial point. With this request machine-builders are expecting not so much a drive supplier than an automation partner that covers beyond drive technology also control technology, the entire automation.

Foto Rainer Crevecoeur
Rainer Crevecoeur, General Manager Germany

Control Techniques is well-known for drive technology. We are a part of the global Emerson enterprise; more precisely we are a brand of Emerson Industrial Automation.

Emerson Industrial Automation will close the gap between drive technology and factory automation in the near future.

We will offer automation solutions, i.e. PC-based control technology, HMI, I/O level. Already certain individual frequency converters already provide integrated control technology and motion control, i.e. distributed control technology. Through this enhancement machine-builders can realize central and distributed automation solutions.

That is a piece of news, indeed!  

Yes, indeed. The result of the survey at this point has also encouraged us to already reveal this piece of news.

Emerson Industrial Automation ensures with this enhancement the machine-builder's flexibility which has become that necessary in competition providing sale benefits opposite to his end-user. And the world-wide presence of Emerson Industrial Automation accompanies world-wide the export-oriented German machinery industry supporting it at its world-wide customers.  

Ok, that is the prospect, Emerson Industrial Automation as a world-wide positioned supplier of integrated total solutions for factory automation. Back to drive technology and engineering. 70% of the machine-builders indicate that the engineering expenses rose by about 50% since 2007 until today. How does Unidrive M affect the engineering expenses of the machine-builder?  

Unidrive M significantly lowers the engineering expenses and that we would like to highlight at three main points.

Unidrive M lowers engineering expenses by complete uniformity

A frequency converter family from 0.25 KW to 2.8 MW consisting of six converter series with application-related scalable hardware, technologies and software to control asynchronous, synchronous, servo motors as well as linear actuators resp. to use them as AFE.

So the machine-builder selects the devices, fitting for its drive functions, via Eplan macros, refines the adaptation to the application via option modules e.g. for field buses, interfaces and others, parameterizes or programs all devices through a standardized software, based on Codesys, using voluntarily thereby configurable technology packages like rewinding stand, and selects the suitable drives from a comprehensive motor program.

Consistent complete uniformity is the factor at this point to reduce engineering expenses.

Unidrive M-family puts aside second and third suppliers and the related higher engineering expenses

And that leads directly to the second point. We could read in the survey that machine-builders are more change-willing regarding drive converters than with other components. 

Foto Ulrich Buhr
Ulrich Buhr, Head of Sales Automation Solutions Germany

On the one hand that is related to the degree of freedom for the machine-builder but on the other hand an observation is concerned we want to use the example of press manufacturers.

Various press manufacturers are using two to three drive suppliers, one as main suppliers, another supplier for simple drive functions and finally a third one for large performances for the main press drive.

None of these three suppliers covers everything in such a way, as the machine-builder expects. So the machine-builder is forced to change. And that of course is driving his engineering expenses up.

Our great strength is, however, that we are able to cover such requirements by one frequency converter family – so the huge scope of this frequency converter family and its complete uniformity saves two and three-way engineering of external solutions.  

And the third point?

Unidrive M-family covers technologically almost all applications, no higher engineering expenses by external makes

The third point to lower the engineering expenses is constituted in the fact that the machine-builder can cover standard applications with standard technologies up to complex adapted solutions on the base of only one frequency converter family on single software platform.

Also at this point the machine-builder is not forced to change over to other makes imposing additional engineering expenses.  

Finally in the survey machine-builders stress the role of software as competitive advantage. What may offer Unidrive M to these machine-builders?

The simple manner of hardware adaption and customized software solutions

First of all regarding hardware, our strength is simple adaptation to special request. Or, differently expressed: we have a simple manner to adapt our hardware to applications and request which do not provide other suppliers. That belongs to our great strengths.

In regard to software, the engineering system for Unidrive M, the Machine Control Studio, enables of course based on the open CodeSys programming customized software solutions from the machine-builder, which can be protected as his special know-how.  

Mr. Crevecoeur, Dr. Koenig, Mr. Buhr, many thanks for the interview.

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Emerson Industrial Automation

Delivering products, solutions and services for the factory automation with $4.9bn turnover and worldwide 25,000 employees.

Control Techniques

Emerson Industrial Automation's brand for drive technology.

Control Techniques GmbH
Drive Center
Meysstr. 20
53773 Hennef
Phone +49(0)2242-877-0


US manufacturer and technology provider with a wide product range with $24.7bn turnover, 132,000 employees, represented in 150 countries and worldwide 230 factories.

More information about Emerson Industrial Automation

Emerson Industrial Automation brochure, page 1
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Overview to Unidrive M

Unidrive M brochure, page 1
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Please do not hesitate to contact me.

Foto Dr. Holger Koenig



Dr. Holger Koenig, Head of Sales Manufacturing Germany

Higher energy efficiency in the textile industry by Unidrive M

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