It goes without saying that businesses within all industries are constantly aiming to increase their efficiency and reduce their energy consumption, with the target being to lessen the impact of their carbon footprint on the environment.

This is done in a number of ways, from shifting to renewable energy resources, and using less energy in day to day activity. In industries such as manufacturing, one key method of doing this is through the use of variable speed drives.

What are Variable Speed Drives?

variable speed drives

Variable speed drives can also be known as adjustable-speed drives or variable frequency drives, and are a piece of equipment that regulates the speed and torque output of an electric motor.

In short, a VSD’s main job is to accurately maintain the speed of a machine, something which has been proven as a method of saving energy in environments such as manufacturing plants. But how does the use of a variable speed drive actually cut down on energy use?

Read more: What are Variable Speed Drives? The Ultimate Guide

How do VSDs save energy?

Stats show that on average, use of variable speed drives has helped businesses to reduce their energy consumption by up to 60% a year, which also leads to considerable reduction in costs.

Often, components such as air conditioning fans run at just one speed or need manually altering, despite the fact a lower speed will save energy while still completing the same job. Variable speed drives are effective in this was as they ensure things run at the optimum, lower speed, while still completing the task and saving energy at the same time.

Focusing entirely on air conditioning fans in the food industry as an example, they would usually be left alone until a kitchen heated up, at which point they’d be put onto the highest setting to get it cooled down. This sees a larger than required consumption of energy, and also shortens the lifetime of the fan, leading to higher repair and replacement costs.

Invertek variable speed drive

The installation of a variable speed drive in this scenario would result in the fan running at the optimum speed when needed, heavily reducing energy use, and helping businesses to save money in the long run.

Of course, this scenario is replicable across many different industries, using a variety of appliances - not just fans. In the manufacturing industry, variable speed drives are used to regulate the speed of things such as belts and motors.

Variable Speed Drives in action

Variable speed drives have been used by many high-profile businesses, offering them satisfactory results.

One such example is detailed by manufacturers ABB in a 2008 case study, after their VSDs were used across McDonald’s restaurants across the UK, installed to reduce energy use in their kitchen extractor fans.

McDonald's Restaurant

The then project manager for McDonalds Restaurant Services Dave Holden said: “We were updating old equipment and realised we could reduce our carbon footprint by making large fans run more slowly.

“Variable speed control was implemented on fan units with large 5.5 kW motors. These now draw about 2kW for most of the time, but have the capacity to boost extract volumes significantly at busy times.

“Variable speed control gives us the extraction volumes we need while cutting energy use. We will also change our specifications to request variable speed control when new equipment is purchased.”

Despite McDonald’s aiming to improve their energy savings by 40%, their installation of variable speed drives actually resulted in savings of 50%.

Overall, the effectiveness of variable speed drives has been proven countless times, and a report back in 2004 by Akseli Savolainen shows that VSDs installed by ABB in the previous twelve years had reduced global CO2 emissions by 68 million tonnes per year, a stat that will have only improved with increased installations over more than a decade since.

VSDs at LED Controls

LED Controls are stockists of many variable speed drives from numerous highly reputable manufacturers:

  • ABB is a Swedish-Swiss world leader in industrial automation that specialises in devices including drives.
  • Amongst those names are Japanese corporation Yaskawa, who have become the world’s largest manufacturer of AC and adjustable frequency drives since their foundation in 1915.
  • Founded in 1933, Danfoss are renowned for their VLT drives range, and VACON drives.
  • From Taiwan, Teco have become a global name in the industry, with pump and fan drives, vector drives and more.

Click here to view the LED Controls Variable Speed Drives range.

If you have any questions or queries about LED Controls’ services and products, don’t hesitate to get in touch with the team by emailing [email protected], calling 08450 756230, or clicking here to fill in a contact form.