A History of Advanced Energy’s Motors and Drives Team

By Jonathan Susser | February 26, 2020

Our motors and drives team has been promoting motor system efficiency for over 30 years. Since the late 1980s, we have tested more than 3,500 motors and drives in our nationally accredited lab, provided trainings and resources to customers, ensured that motor-driven systems are reliable and energy efficient, and contributed to the development of minimum efficiency performance standards (MEPS) in the U.S. and abroad. Using our decades of experience and knowledge, we are committed to continuing our role in the motors and drives industry by assisting manufacturers, distributors, utilities, government agencies and users with their motor system needs.

Motor and drive efficiency testing has long been the backbone of our work. In 1997, our lab became the first in the world to achieve National Voluntary Laboratory Accreditation Program (NVLAP) compliance through the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and it remains the only independent lab with such recognition in North America. In 2012, we became the first motor efficiency testing lab outside Mexico to receive NORMA Oficial Mexicana (NOM) designation through the Asociación Nacional de Normalización y Certificación, A.C. (ANCE). We are also the sole source accredited to perform testing for the Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) 1210/1211 standard for variable frequency drives (VFDs).

“Motor-driven systems account for approximately 50% of all electricity delivered. As a class of machinery, these systems far outweigh others in terms of energy conversion (electrical to mechanical). During this conversion, significant energy losses can occur, so we work to mitigate and reduce these losses as much as possible.” – Kitt Butler, Director of Business Development

In addition to efficiency testing, we have had a significant influence on how motors are used. For example, the Horsepower Bulletin, first published in 1991 for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), helps users develop strategic energy management plans for their motor-driven systems. The resource promotes establishing policy guidelines for purchasing, operating, repairing and inventorying. It is also the basis for our long-standing and successful Motor Management workshop series.

The Motor Management workshop series is one example of another way we have contributed to efficient motor use: through education and outreach. Our motors and drives team has hosted hundreds of trainings on motor management for utilities, large industrial customers and trade associations. These trainings are tailored to clients’ needs, combining classroom instruction with hands-on activities. Each training also includes a demonstration of the fan affinity laws, providing participants with the opportunity to realize VFD savings with real-world activities. Each session presents attendees with the tools they need to begin a motor management program by surveying their motors correctly and consistently.

A major change to the motor industry came from the Energy Policy Act of 1992 and its development of MEPS that specify the minimum level of energy performance that an electric motor must meet before it can be used in appliances and equipment. We have contributed to the public MEPS process with regulators, industry groups and other energy efficiency organizations as a public stakeholder in the DOE’s rulemaking processes. We have offered comments when the DOE has sought them, provided public testimony on motor testing and educated lawmakers on the technologies and efficiency levels capable with motors today. The DOE projects that electric motors purchased over the 30-year period that begins in the year of compliance with the latest standards will save 7.0 quads of energy, the equivalent of over 2 trillion kilowatt-hours.

Another large focus of our motor work has been motor repair. In 1998, we launched the Proven Efficiency Verification (PEV) program, a first-of-its-kind third-party quality assurance program that ensures consistency and reliability in repairs while achieving energy savings. The program assesses motor repair facilities’ standards and processes for repairing AC induction, three-phase electric motors used in industrial and commercial settings. The accreditation begins with an application and on-site evaluation, and the facility must then perform before-and-after rewind testing in our lab to prove efficiency was maintained. Annual renewal requirements with additional lab testing must also be met to maintain accreditation.

In 2014, the Electrical Apparatus Service Association (EASA) launched its own accreditation program and sanctioned us as one of its original third-party auditors. This program evaluates motor service centers to ensure they are using prescribed good practices (based on ANSI/EASA AR 100) to maintain motor efficiency and reliability during repairs.

The most significant recent milestone for our motors and drives efforts came in 2018, when we were recognized by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) as a Certification Body. This achievement signified that we met the requirements outlined in ISO/IEC 17065 for organizations that certify products, processes and services, and we can now certify electric motors and small electric motors for efficiency as designated by the DOE. We later completed our ISO/IEC 17065 renewal audit with ANSI and are currently awaiting final determination from the DOE classifying our motors and drives team as a nationally recognized certification program for motor efficiency compliance.

We remain committed to the motors and drives industry. The need for efficient motor-driven systems is on the rise, and we continue to evaluate the market for ways to further our abilities and processes. As new developments surface and standards are set, we will be there to provide guidance, training, education and consulting to keep motors and drives running efficiently and reliably.