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An introduction from the editor

01 November 2015

Welcome to this, our special newsletter covering the 20th Anniversary Drives Supplement, which was published in the November 2015 edition of Design Products & Applications.

Twenty years ago this month my former colleague and previous editor of Design Products & Applications, Bob Brooks, set out on the road with publisher Neil Whitaker to learn more about an increasingly important piece of motor control hardware – the ac variable speed drive. They believed the subject warranted a special section of the magazine, as developments were clearly beginning to accelerate with new PWM chipsets and power electronics opening the way to more affordable methods of controlling ac induction motors. Thus was born a series of supplements dedicated to the subject of drives that ran four to five times per year for the next sixteen or so years.

Twenty years on, and the drives industry has changed out of all recognition. What was once a rather expensive technology that would-be users needed to assess very carefully in terms of budgets and benefits is now – for all intents and purposes – commoditised. Prices have fallen dramatically while functionality has risen far above what might have been expected back in 1995.  The industry has subsequently become very competitive and suppliers are particularly inventive in their efforts to differentiate their products.

In this anniversary supplement, we revisit some of the contributors to the first supplement to get their individual views on how the industry has evolved amidst fierce commercial competition and relentless technological advances; we asked them to go back to the future of drives.

Les Hunt

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