In July, we began inviting specifiers, buyers, and operators of variable speed, Medium Voltage Drives to participate in our 2020 Medium Voltage Drive usage survey.
Our intent, then and now, is to gain insight into the selection criteria, functionality, expectations, and performance needs surrounding Medium Voltage Drives. Ultimately, the goal is to capture information that can help equipment manufacturers better address customers’ needs and expectations.
Who we’re talking to
The industries served by variable speed, Medium Voltage Drives are diverse—spanning agriculture, food processing, water and wastewater, pulp and paper, oil and gas, cement, chemicals, pharmaceuticals and biotech—but most fall within the power utility sector.
The leading application for Medium Voltage Drives is pumps, named by ~37% of respondents, followed by centrifugal compressors, with 31%. Other top responses list fans, retrofit motors, and conveyors.
Nearly 70% of respondents say they need soft starting capabilities.
The survey information we have gathered has been reinforced by our one-on-one interviews. Those participants, representing approximately 10% of our total survey pool, have shared openly, spoken freely, and in some cases, critically.
An investigation of this kind allows us to gain a greater understanding of what matters to customers. It also grants us the opportunity to explore the drivers of decision making across critical audiences.
Many find safety in numbers
Most respondents gravitate toward the largest manufactures. These so-called “top-tier” providers are often preferred simply because of their market share. Professionals in this space trust them because of their popularity among their peers.
Specifically, our survey is finding that more than 50% of respondents are currently using Siemens or ABB—two industrial titans, not specialized Medium Voltage Drive manufacturers.
The bigger, the better
While many simply believe bigger is better, there’s another contributor to the prominent position of top-tier manufacturers: they possess service and support resources considered essential by customers. Together, these elements help industry leaders attain gravitas that smaller companies simply cannot match.
Do the big boys care about Medium Voltage Drives?
So: are the largest manufactures truly committed to the Medium Voltage Drive segment of the market?
Consumers certainly want to know. Many believe that the largest suppliers will only focus on Medium Voltage Drives if other obligations fall by the wayside.
Some additional criticisms of the top tier manufacturers include their “too big to fail” attitude, relatively high cost, and lack of flexibility. On the positive side, there is general agreement that the largest suppliers reliably ensure that service and support is available and accessible.
Testing is essential
During specifying, commissioning, and operations, interoperability is the most daunting challenge customers face, irrespective of industry or scale of operations.
A common complaint among those interviewed is that manufacturers do not test their variable speed, Medium Voltage Drives with the motors to which they are to be attached. This makes interoperability is unreliable. And elicits frustration for OEM/integrators, EPCs, and end users alike.
Customers demand that Medium Voltage Drives and their corresponding motors be tested together. And if these products are purchased at the same time, customers insist that they be priced together as well.
What customers want from Medium Voltage Drives
Overall, participants list the following attributes as desirable and expected elements of Medium Voltage Drive solutions:
This is only a glimpse of the information that is flowing in from our survey and the follow-up interviews we are conducting to extract greater detail. The volume of information is mounting, and further trends are forming.
Interested in seeing the final report? If you haven’t already, take our 5-minute survey and submit your email address to ensure delivery directly to your inbox.
Take the survey today
This survey is being conducted by the research team at Sudden Impact Marketing. Reponses will be compiled into a broader market analysis so that we can better understand the selection criteria, functionality, expectations, and performance needs around Medium Voltage Drives.Start the survey