Industrial controls, motors get green makeover

Keeping industrial control and motor technology operating at optimal performance and energy-efficiency isn't exactly the world's sexiest topic. That's about to change, if start-up LineStream Technologies has anything to say about it.

Keeping industrial control and motor technology operating at optimal performance and energy-efficiency isn't exactly the world's sexiest topic. That's about to change, if start-up LineStream Technologies has anything to say about it. The reason is simple: there is a lot of energy to be saved by helping make industrial motors and manufacturing equipment smarter.

LineStream is touting a software solution called InTAC, tuning and control technology that could help manufacturers reduce the energy consumption of certain processes by up to 50 percent. It also has developed an application called SpinTAC for digital signal processors and motor controls. Earlier this month, the company signed its first high-profile customer for the latter technology, Texas Instruments, which is seeking to provide its motor customers with technology that will help improve the motor performance of everything from washing machines to medical equipment.

Said Chris Clearman, worldwide manager of motor solutions for Texas Instruments:

"Smarter motors can save huge amounts of energy and cost, so TI is working to make sure developers have the microcontrollers, tools and software they need to get to market as fast as possible. Our work with LineStream is an important element in that effort, as we integrate their technology to help our motor customers to make the world greener."

When I spoke with LineStream CEO Dave Neundorfer about what his company hopes to achieve, he said the market his company is addressing represents a $10 billion opportunity to advance the controls market. Motors account for up to 45 percent of the energy consumed in the United States, he noted, citing commonly referenced industry statistics. LineStream's flagship InTAC technology is interesting because it can be applied as a seamless software upgrade to certain controllers. It was developed over a period of 10 years at Cleveland State University.

The animation below explains LineStream's value propositions in greater detail, because its technologies can be applied in a number of different scenarios:

LineStream's deal with Texas Instruments will impact designers that use that company's technology to build motor-driven products. The company also is targeting industrial manufacturers that are seeking to reduce the energy consumption of their process equipment and facilities.

For example, LineStream worked with Parker Hannifin in Ravenna, Ohio, on a plant-wide deployment deployment of InTAC. The technology helped drive a 57 percent reduction in energy consumption, according to the general manager Mark Gagnon. He said:

"The implementation was simple. We sent LineStream our program, and then they showed up and installed the inTAC program during a shift changeover. LineStream has a unique product that helped us further optimize what was already a world-class operation."

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