Following the outbreak of COVID-19, demand control ventilation is being viewed as a viable solution to balance energy efficiency targets with improved Indoor Air Quality. Has there been an increase in sales of VFDs across multiple building profiles, or has the pandemic done little to stir up the need for greater IAQ in the GCC region?
Indoor Air Quality has always been a focus across the region even before the pandemic. The VFD market size is increasing due to the growth in green buildings, which have requirements and demand for energy efficiency. Our devices, featuring adjustable frequency, are specifically designed to optimise energy usage, improve motor performance and system reliability. This helps customers power their motors more efficiently, effectively and safely. Other features are a patented Active Energy Control algorithm to optimise energy usage. The Active Energy Control reduces the output and motor current as much as possible while ensuring the motor continues to spin at the required speed.
Generally speaking, what is the market demand for drives across the GCC region?
Globally speaking, we see new trends in the industry: With the increased cost of energy, sustainability imparities, customer demands for connected assets, remote operation, monitoring and control, enhanced quality of usages, smooth control and operations, it is becoming very clear that motor operations and, hence, drives are an essential part for motor control for majority of the applications in the industry, commercial establishments, buildings and residential sites.
Could you specifically comment on the demand for VFDs in the residential market?
We have witnessed a huge demand for VFDs from the residential market, specifically for air-handling units and water pumps. With the ambitions in Saudi Arabia and the UAE, this growth is evolving due to the increase in high-rise and green buildings.
The VFD sector has seen greater use of electronics and controls technology. Are building owners enthusiastic about integrating smart VFDs in their facilities, given the fact that Indoor air quality is improved?
Sustainability and digitalisation are key trends. We are witnessing quicker and increased adoption of IoT and IIOT in most of the GCC region and Middle East countries, in view of the need for compatible solutions in building and industrial applications. And with the increased cost of energy, it is mandatory for building honours to adopt cost-saving solutions, without jeopardising the performance and quality of the system. When it comes to migrating to more digital solutions, smart homes and green buildings, using a VFD is the most reliable solution to improve Mean Time To Repair (MTTR) and Mean Time Before Failure (MTBF). In addition to energy saving, VFDs enhance machine performance and improved reliability.
Has the reduction in cost of VFDs encouraged building owners to opt for them? How successful have you been in highlighting the benefits of VFDs to building owners, such as reduced startup shock and smoother changes in fan speed and, further, reduced maintenance through lower wear and tear, which increases the life of the fan motor?
With the evolution of power electronics, and the introduction of advanced technological solutions in hardware and software improvements, VFDs are becoming more and more cost-effective, especially now that many building owners are aware of the overall system performance – total cost of ownership (TCO) – rather than seeing the VFD as a component. The technology of VFDs not only benefits the customer from a control over motor speed perspective but also reduces the motor starting current. With the advancement in energy saving in VFDs, especially with energy control algorithm and improved motor efficiency performance, customers get best return on their investment.
Have owners budged on realising that the initial cost of a drive is only about 10% of the total cost of ownership?
Developers are getting to understand the benefits of using VFDs in their buildings and justifying the initial costs. This is pertinent especially with control algorithm improving energy efficiency and motor performance. Not only do they benefit from improved air quality, temperature-controlled environment and less carbon emissions but also from improved energy savings.
Would you say we still have numerous instances of uncommissioned VFDs, which are as good as not installing VFDs, in the first place? Are you seeing a shift in market behaviour towards proper commissioning, or is there still frustration over not getting the maximum out of the drives?
Currently, VFDs come with a set of pre-defined settings to match with user application, whether it is fan control, pump control, simple speed control with a reference input or a multi-application with all VFD functionalities that are enabled. This helps users to select the application that suits them, thus simplifying the settings required and facilitating the commissioning of the VFD system.