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Green in Motion: Eight examples of sustainable and energy-efficient drive technology

Matthias Beetz, Baumüller Nürnberg GmbH

Read min.

Energy efficiency

Sustainability is one of today’s global megatrends. This topic is also at the top of the agenda for industry and for the mobility of the future. The advantage: Sustainability and economic efficiency can be wonderfully combined in electric drive technology. Eight examples show how Baumüller puts this into practice with intelligent drive and automation technology.

Energy-efficient drive technology in production and mobility

The use of efficient drive technology in production is an important factor when it comes to reducing the carbon footprint. There are numerous possibilities for lowering the energy consumption of individual components as well as entire production lines. Significant savings potential can be achieved here over the entire life cycle: from the selection and dimensioning of the drive system to the optimization of manufacturing processes through energy monitoring and process optimization.

In particular, the design and dimensioning of the drive for the required application exert a major influence on the later consumption of energy in the production process. In the course of designing its series motors, Baumüller works, among other things, with state-of-the-art simulation techniques in order to optimally design servo and torque motors while still in the development phase. The motor is modeled with all relevant properties and can be optimized even before the construction of the first prototype.

More information on sustainability at Baumüller is available here:

E-drive systems for ships

There is also huge potential for savings in the area of e-mobility. Many vehicles in conventional road traffic have already been electrified. Although it tends to receive little public attention, commercial vehicles, construction machinery, and ships are a field that harbors great potential.

Ships are ideally suited for the installation of electromechanical components. “They offer a lot of installation space, which creates room for powerful drive technology,” explains Thomas Scholz, expert for system solutions and e-mobility at Baumüller. Conventional diesel marine engines are not particularly economical in terms of energy: Their efficiency is only 35 to 60 percent.

For this reason, the Baumüller Marine Solutions division has developed a hybrid drive system that combines the power and autonomy of a diesel engine with the numerous advantages of electromechanical drive power. “For this system, we work with a DC link that we distribute on board.”

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The advantage is that this makes it easy to integrate alternative energy carriers into the system, such as batteries or fuel cells. “In addition, by integrating generators or hydrogen engines, we save on energy conversion, thus preventing further losses in efficiency,” Thomas Scholz continues.

Energy-efficient ship propulsion

Baumüller Marine Solutions has equipped ferries, inland vessels, yachts, and other ships worldwide. We therefore have extensive expertise when it comes to the retrofitting or conversion of ships and offshore vessels.

More information on innovations at Baumüller Marine Solutions is available here:

Energy-efficient recycling industry

Increasing the efficiency of a shredder by balancing the motor and rotor

Thanks to the perfect interaction of the converter and the motor, the rotor is able to make exact cuts – for optimum results

The recycling industry transforms waste into new products, which helps to keep the cycle of the global commodity economy sustainable. The buzzword used here is “circular economy.” Recyclable materials are often broken down into their smallest components. This is achieved through the use of a shredder, the drive shaft of which entails high energy consumption when operated using conventional technology. The mechanical driving force of this shaft requires high driving power. For this reason, in order to realize a significant improvement in the energy balance of these machines, “Baumüller has developed high-torque motors that have a high degree of electrical and mechanical efficiency,” explains Andreas Orth, technical sales representative at Baumüller.

These high-torque motors from Baumüller replace the hydraulic drive systems otherwise used in shredders. “With electromechanical drive power, we achieve higher overall efficiency, which has a positive impact on the machine’s energy management,” Andreas Orth continues. Less thermal energy is wasted, making machine operation more sustainable.

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More useful information on innovations in environmental and recycling technology at Baumüller is available here:

Resource-efficient servo motors

Innovative cooling concepts for servo motors reduce the installation space required in the machine. The result is a smaller and therefore generally more lightweight motor. This conserves valuable raw materials, such as copper for the coils, magnetic material for the rotors, and iron for the motor housing.

Servo motors have a high efficiency of over 90 percent. A high percentage of the electrical energy supplied is converted into mechanical power. The remaining 10 percent or so of the electrical output is lost in the form of heat. To prevent the motor from overheating, this heat must be dissipated. For this purpose, Baumüller offers its customers servo motors with a sophisticated cooling system. Liquid-cooled motors can be operated in the process with either water or oil cooling. In many hydraulic machines, for example, the hydraulic oil can simultaneously be used for cooling. “Machine operators therefore not only require a smaller motor; they also increase the power density of the drive,” as Matthias Beetz, Academy Manager of the Baumüller Group, points out. The hot wastewater can then be used to heat residential properties, industrial buildings, greenhouses, swimming pools, wellness facilities, and many other properties. “This boosts economic efficiency while conserving resources,” Matthias Beetz continues.

More information on Baumüller servo motors is available here:

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Servo motor with water cooling
Thanks to water cooling, Baumüller achieves twice the power with servo motors with the same dimensions.

Energy-saving servo-hydraulics

Servo-hydraulic drives are used in plastics or metal processing to press vehicle parts, for example. Servo-hydraulics consists of a servo-hydraulic fixed displacement pump driven by a speed-controlled motor, for example a servo motor. In simple applications, an uncontrolled fixed displacement pump provides the necessary drive power. This generates continuous volume flows, but these are not required at this constant rate. “This is extremely unfavorable with regard to energy efficiency criteria and, in many cases, not economical,” emphasizes Matthias Beetz.

Energy savings through servo hydraulics
Hydraulics vs. servo-hydraulics: Starting immediately, you can quickly and easily calculate the amount of energy you save when you change your drive system online

Baumüller goes a decisive step further: The servo inverter controls a highly dynamic synchronous motor, to which a pump is attached. “We call this combination of servo motor and pump a servo-hydraulic drive system ‒ or simply a servo pump.” In this system, the motor is only switched on when the appropriate pressure and flow rate are required in the process. During phases when no power is required, the motors are at rest and do not consume any energy. “The energy-saving potential of this servo-hydraulic system from Baumüller is particularly apparent during breaks in the process,” as Matthias Beetz further explains. How much energy customers save in this process compared to hydraulic drives can be calculated quickly and easily using the Baumüller energy calculator.

Information on new servo-hydraulic drive concepts from Baumüller is available here:

Advantages of servo presses

Wherever rigid components are formed, bent, or separated with high force, users traditionally rely on hydraulic drive power. However, Stefan Hecht, simulation engineer at Baumüller, explains why servo eccentric presses are not only more energy-efficient, but also more economical. Servo eccentric presses are peak power applications. In these eccentric presses, very high power is required for a brief moment during the circulation process. The problem: the high investment costs required for upstream peripheral components, such as supply lines. “A large, yet unnecessary consumption of resources,” says Stefan Hecht.

Energy-efficient drives for presses
Baumüller offers the perfect energy management solution for your press.

The solution: Baumüller’s energy management system, which represents a comprehensive solution precisely tailored to the power peaks of energy-intensive servo-eccentric presses. The special twist: “In addition to our high-torque motors with multiple windings, we use external intermediate circuit capacities that can store energy.” These energy reserves only release power when the servo press is running at peak load. This reduces the peak load from the power grid from 1,000 kWh to 600 kWh. With this technology, the transformer and supply lines can have a smaller design. “Our simulation together with Baumüller energy management is a sustainable way to save resources,” as Stefan Hecht further stresses.

More information on the drive technology of servo presses is available here:

Baumüller is an innovation driver for the DC-Industrie research project

Baumüller is also working on cross-company projects for the energy supply and production of the future. For example, the German research project “DC-Industrie” shows how conventional AC power grids can be replaced by DC grids in the manufacturing industry. In the DC-Industrie project, a DC grid enables energy to be exchanged between individual consumers. This makes it possible to integrate renewable energies or storage systems with low conversion losses. The research team established a potential energy savings of up to 80 percent for the transformer.

Another advantage is the recovery of braking energy from individual motors. Because it provides the drive for a further motor, the energy is no longer lost in the DC grid. Reduced feed-in power, lower energy consumption, and greater resource efficiency make sustainable operation possible.

More information on the DC-Industrie research project is available here:

Energy generation from kite-flying

To conclude this article, we consider the rather unusual, yet highly interesting example of airborne wind turbines, which generate electrical energy from high-altitude wind. In this novel form of energy generation, the kite is suspended from a special HMPE fiber rope. In the presence of wind, the stunt kite rises in rows of eight. The tractive force drives a generator, thereby producing energy. A highly efficient drive feeds this energy into the power grid or batteries or supplies it for direct consumption. This technology fits into a 30-foot container.

In the future, these turbines could be utilized along coastlines, for example, and represent an innovative concept for decentralized energy supply in windy regions or on deep-sea vessels.


These examples show that solutions for sustainable drive technology are already being used in many applications. With the help of Baumüller products, services, and systems, production processes and mobility concepts can reduce their ecological footprint and their energy and resource consumption in the long-term. As the manufacturer of drive technology and automation, Baumüller is an enabler for sustainable industrial production processes and for the mobility of tomorrow.

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Matthias Beetz
Training Engineer Academy I Baumüller Nürnberg GmbH

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