Power Electronics

Joint Venture Pursues Integrated Plug-in Power Modules For Motion Control


By Ashok Bindra, Editor, PETech

Joint Venture Pursues Integrated Plug-in Power Modules For Motion Control

To strengthen their position in the globally expanding energy-efficient smart appliances market, International Rectifier Corp. (IR) and SANYO Semiconductor, a wholly owned subsidiary of Japan’s SANYO Electric Co. Ltd., took a major step forward last week. Extending their joint development activity of over two years in the power modules arena, the two partners have announced the formation of a joint venture to design, develop, and market electronic motor drive power modules for energy-efficient appliances and light industrial applications. With each partner owning a 50% stake in the new company, named IR-SA Integrated Technologies, it’s expected to officially commence operations on October 1, 2003, with headquarters in El Segundo, Calif.

According to the new company’s CEO Ian Warbrick, IR-SA Integrated Technologies will combine IR’s expertise in motion control power management devices with SANYO’s world-class packaging integration technologies that use its proprietary Insulated Metal Substrate Technology (IMST®) to deliver advanced “plug-in” solutions to appliance manufacturers worldwide. Combining the strengths of the two partners, IR-SA Integrated Technologies is planning to pursue the rapidly expanding market for variable speed motion control technology being driven by government mandates as well as consumer demand for energy-efficient air conditioners, refrigerators, washing machines, and a host of light industrial equipments.

Experts estimate that nearly 50% of world’s electricity is used in motion control. Based on this data, today’s inefficient electro-mechanical solutions deployed in these applications result in a loss of $72 billion per year due to wasted energy. Hence, it isn’t surprising that home appliance makers and industrial equipment manufacturers are rapidly moving toward variable speed motion control to drastically cut waste in these applications. An internal study indicates that in 2001 only 10% of washing machines implemented energy-efficient variable speed motor drive electronics. However, it’s estimated that by 2004 almost 26% of washing machines manufactured will adopt the new variable speed motion control technology. That number is expected to surge to 46% by 2007. Similar migration is expected in other home appliances and light industrial products.

“Through the formation of this pact with the leader in power management electronics, we see great opportunities in the worldwide market of motor control products. Our joint venture will be able to deliver a solution that appeals to appliance makers’ design goals and significantly reduce energy usage,” said Tadahiko Tanaka, president of SANYO Semiconductor Co.

As a result of an existing joint collaborative agreement, IR and SANYO recently introduced two products in their flagship series of integrated power modules. Developed for 10A and 16A applications, each module incorporates a 3-phase inverter power gate driver and auxiliary circuitry in a compact, high-performance, isolated package. In addition to these two products, several others are in the making. As per the company product roadmap (see the photo), IR-SA Integrated Technologies intends to release a complete front-end harmonic controller with protection features by next year. Furthermore, an advanced controller with diagnostic capabilities is expected within a 2004-2005 timeframe, while a complete plug-and-play solution is slated for 2005-2006. The new products will be developed under the leadership of IR’s integrated power modules director Alberto Guerra. The integrated power modules produced at IR-SA Integrated Technologies will be distributed via the partner’s worldwide sales channels.

Although details on the number of employees from the two partners as well as market share objectives were unavailable, the new venture intends to double its revenues each year for next few years.

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