Remote solutions and state of the market


Key takeaways and lessons learnt

As of July 2020, it is sufficiently clear to governments and corporations around the world that COVID-19 has been a devastating event that has impacted key industrial markets on a global level. What has been ultimately clear for both OEM’s and consumers is that the world was overwhelmingly underprepared for such a widespread shutdown. The main concern for various vertical markets across industrial manufacturing has always been disruption of business, supply lines and logistics. The effects of COVID-19 are still unfolding and what has become clear is that the virus has become more of a ‘people’ problem than the ability of health care systems to minimize the spread throughout communities.

The medium-voltage (MV) motor market has, up until this point, experienced little disruption due to COVID-19; however, the same cannot be said for industrial manufacturing as a whole. Omdia’s key market indicators such as machinery production and industrial automation forecast a decline of up to 15% in 2020. While the motor market isn’t feeling the full effects of the global industrial decline, as lead times increase Omdia expects further market declines to be felt into 2021.

VFD-controlled motors and IIOT

More recently VFDs (Variable frequency drive) have had a positive impact on the MV motor market by serving as a positive step towards increased motor monitoring. Below is an outline of the increased capabilities of motors equipped with a VFD.

  • Control of motor speed without impacting electric consumption, torque & magnetic flux
  • Increased versatility of motors
    • reduction in drawn voltage & amperage
    • higher energy saving costs

Utilizing VFDs for the purpose of control, data collection, and condition monitoring is not a novel use of technology, but it is a positive step toward boosting Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) adoption among equipment that is not usually seen as “smart”. Despite the positive consequences of VFD adoption, the motor industry is still significantly far away from notable IIoT implementation across major industries. According to Omdia here are some of the challenges the MV motor market is facing with IIoT implementation. 

Obstacles for IIoT

  • Existing infrastructure for motor manufacturing; not inclusive of embedded motors
  • Additional monitoring devices proving to be too expensive and, in some applications, unnecessary
  • Approved vendor lists in key industries such as oil & gas take up to 10 years to break into, not incentivizing motor OEM’s to penetrate services market
  • Data privacy; end uses concerns with data privileges will lean towards big name data companies such as Google, Oracle and IBM rather than motor OEM’s who aren’t typically concerned with data analytics and management

Since the initial IIoT push in 2011, equipment manufacturers have been boasting of various use cases, but these are rarely seen in the field being utilized by the end users. Despite COVID-19 offsetting any significant investment in IIoT in 2020, there is a clear trend for these investments for entire motor systems moving forward. Larger motor manufactures with complex supply chains such as ABB and Siemens are expected to lead this trend. Omdia predicts that further consolidation of key market share players will occur across the motor business as smaller players will continue to specialise in select industries due to constraints on funding and technology capacity. 

So far 2020 has given a clear indication of the vulnerability of many major industrial markets. COVID-19 has pointed out the clear benefits for increased implementation of IIoT across the motor market. As seen by the input cost for MV motors in 2019, the market is still largely reliant on labour, especially in key industries such as oil & gas and the commodity markets where decreased output will have a direct correlation on the decreased demand for motors.


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Kickstarting IIoT

Few existing market share players are producing motors with inclusive monitoring and servicing beyond basic motor functions such as rotor temperature and vibration. Alex West, industrial IOT principle analyst at Omdia recommends manufacturers take the following steps to increase their chances of IIoT success:

  • Specify the project by determining in advance which exact challenges you want IIoT to address
  • Start small, with some pilot projects of concepts to see how the technology can be utilized.
  • Go right to the top, with senior-level management support for projects.
  • Get the urge to converge, by ensuring support from all relevant functional groups.
  • Leverage your people power, by getting staff involved with deploying the technology and encouraging them to view IIoT not as a threat, but as an augmentation to their job capabilities.