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Why using a variable-speed drive is like driving a car

Variable-speed drives (VSDs) contain complex, state-of-the-art technology, so when explaining their uses and benefits it can be helpful to draw comparisons with an everyday process, such as driving a car.

The normal aim of a car journey (Sunday drivers excluded) is to safely reach the destination in the shortest time. The driver of a car carries out a constant process of acceleration and deceleration in order to obey speed limits, avoid collisions and match traffic conditions. Likewise, a VSD continuously controls the speed of an electric motor to match process conditions such as fan power, conveyor speed and pumping rates.

Both processes are also alike when it comes to financial implications. For a car driver, there’s the cost of fuel to consider, with smooth acceleration and deceleration saving as much as 30% compared to sharp throttling and braking. Similarly, a VSD matches electric motor speed to the current load conditions, helping to reduce energy usage by as much as 60%.

In addition, smooth speed control of a car means less wear and tear on tyres and brakes, resulting in reduced servicing costs. The same is true of VSDs, which protect the components of motor-driven applications with gradual start-up and braking.

As a founder member of the exclusive Authorized Value Provider network, Gibbons is approved to offer distribution, installation and start-up of ABB drives. For all enquiries, please call Alan Roberts on 07966 468430 or email

Variable-Speed Drives, Electric Motors

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