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Tim Dawson Administrator
Senior Research Director – UK
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Tim has over 20 years’ experience in technology market intelligence with expertise across a broad range of industrial automation technologies and industries. Tim is now Senior Research Director and Principal Analyst for the Interact Analysis Industrial Technology team, using his considerable experience to develop best-in-class research for the manufacturing sector. 

A clear trend in servo technology is the move towards employing single-cable connections to link a servo motor and servo drive. Typically, this has required the use of two cables; one to carry power and another to transmit encoder feedback. However, motor and drive vendors are gradually shifting emphasis away from using two cables by combining both key elements – power and data – into a single cable.

Currently, our research shows the market for such solutions is small – representing just over five per cent of AC brushless servo motor sales in 2018 – however many vendors have reported plans to launch new single-cable products, giving us confidence the market will grow at a far quicker rate over the next decade. Indeed, our belief is that by 2028 such products will account for over 50% of the servo motor market.

In terms of revenues, this means the market for single cable connection servo motors will increase from $282 million in 2018 to be worth over $4.3 billion by 2028; demonstrating a 10-year CAGR of 31.2%. So, the growth is huge, meaning that the trend to single-cable technology must surely be taken seriously by servo motor manufacturers all around the world.

Why use a single-cable solution?

Essentially, there is a clear and obvious benefit in using one cable instead of two, and that is the reduction in associated cable costs. There is more to it than simple economic factors though. With fewer cables to account for, wiring and installation is faster and more straightforward. This is bolstered by the fact that fewer connections in a given system means fewer potential points of failure.

Another benefit is the reduction in space required in control cabinets. This ties in with a general trend towards decentralisation, whereby distributed servo systems – particularly those operating multiple axes of motion – require half the amount of cables between the control cabinet and the motor.

The weight savings offered by single-cable technology can also be of benefit because it reduces inertia on moving machinery; ultimately improving general reliability and reducing the need to hold spares in inventory.

New products

Many vendors, including Beckhoff, Schneider and Kollmorgen are promoting single-cable technology aggressively. Indeed, Beckhoff introduced its first single-cable servo motor in 2012. In our Motion Controls 2019 market report, one vendor indicated their belief that, by 2024, 100% of the motors they ship for new applications will have a single-cable connection, and three other vendors also indicated they will try to push only single-cable solutions to their customers in the future.

Limitations

While the benefits of employing single-cable solutions are evident, there is a potential downside in the fact that single-cable technology may have limitations at higher powers/torques. This is simply because the cables required to drive the power element of the connection would be prohibitively large. In these instances, two-cable servo solutions will likely remain the preferred solution for OEMs and end-users, particularly if the motor itself is in motion.

Conclusion

What’s clear is that in most instances, the benefits of using single-cable solutions outweigh any negatives. The technology is equally suited to new machines, or to retrofit applications, and we only see their take-up growing, and growing at a rapid rate. A shift from five percent to 50% of a market in the space of a decade is hugely significant.

To learn more about our Motion Controls Market – 2019 report, click here.

Posted by Tim Dawson

Tim has nearly 20 years’ experience in technology market intelligence with expertise across a broad range of industrial automation technologies and industries. Tim is now Research Director and Principal Analyst for the Interact Analysis Industrial Technology team, using his considerable experience to develop best-in-class research for the manufacturing sector. Read More