Following the annual spectacle at the world’s largest consumer electronics show, the countless recaps of CES 2018, held as always in Las Vegas’ Convention Centre, show an industry burgeoning with a highly diversified range of applications. Where the newest TVs and such would grab headlines in years past, this year the pundits agreed that the consumer of the future will see dramatic changes that go beyond the sharpness of the living room television unit. Robots, drones and smart home appliances were three areas that have seen remarkable advancements in recent years, and were on full display on the exhibition grounds this year as well. Small-size “selfie” drones controlled by smartphone, robot nurses connected to a patient's wearables and providing personalized care, a refrigerator that monitors the optimal temperatures for storing vegetables - these were just some of the applications that looked to make an immediate impact in our daily lives.
Nidec at the drones & robotics corner - Providing solutions for two exploding markets
Nidec, as the world’s largest comprehensive manufacturer of motors, has been carefully monitoring these trends and showed a full display of technologies that realize these applications. Motors are needed for every single technology that moves, meaning that Nidec felt perfectly at home during what was their third appearance at CES. Exhibiting in the drones & robotics corner, naturally Nidec brought their full arsenal for these two exciting fields.
Beginning in the field of robotics, Nidec is contributing to the continuing diffusion of the industry, bringing robots into more areas of our life. Brando Balarezo, Vice President, Engineering & Business Development at Valmark Interface Solutions (a Nidec Group Company) noted that “in addition to maximizing the performance of robots, we also want to contribute to making them less expensive so that they may move out of factories and warehouses and into fields such as agriculture and the service industry. Eventually, we expect robots to become part of our households and make our daily lives even more convenient.” Among the many motors and parts Nidec manufactures, one of the newest on display was a torque sensor, a crucial component that allows the robot to realize flexible movement, maintain its balance, as well as avoid unwanted contact. This technology has already been adapted into a humanoid helper that can be controlled by a human. Created by a major Japanese automobile manufacturer, this new robot has been making headlines recently for its potential applications in home, medical facilities, construction, disaster-stricken areas and even outer space.
As for drones, CES provided a showcase once again for the increased commercial and consumer applications that have fueled the demand for a diverse set of motors. There are however commonalities across most drone applications, as Mr Balarezo noted. “The main trends in the use of drones is higher lift capability, longer drive and flight time, the ability to navigate and the ability to avoid objects. Nidec is addressing these in a couple of ways: first, Nidec has much more efficient motors than ever before, extending the life of the battery charge and allowing the vehicle to travel farther. Nidec also has technology that allows the ability to self-navigate, avoid obstacles and land safely. Demonstrating this efficiency was the showcase of a drone featuring Nidec Copal’s small-size motor.Being side-by-side with a drone featuring a different motor, Nidec’s motor allowed the drone to achieve superior lift capacity.
Building the parts that will make our homes smart
One aspect that might not immediately come to mind when thinking about a motor maker is home appliances. In fact, Nidec has continuously expanded its product range in this field, making it one of the strongest areas of growth for the company. Dwight Sebald, the national Sales Manager for Nidec America Corporation, sees the major trends as follows: “in the near future the focus remains on size reduction and weight reduction, but going a little bit further we are seeing a lot more interest in the entire smart home. We are already seeing demand from our customers to integrate appliances with each other as well as with a smartphone or computer. Nidec is responding by making our entire product range in the appliance sector IoT-ready, so we are seeing a lot of interconnectability, for instance between our fans and our motors. We are also seeing a lot of interest in value-add, taking a fan and adding further capabilities that can in turn add a higher value to the product.”
Exemplyifing some of these trends was the wireless actuator, which provides a solution for Smart Home Appliances where previously only wired options existed. This technology is gaining attraction for its appliances in home security, as it can take over for instance door locking and unlocking. Being wireless, it furthermore allows for greater flexibility in the set-up of a home.
Moving beyond CES - Nidec and the motors of the future
Moving forward, Nidec is aiming to continue to leverage its position in being able to provide comprehensive solutions in the field of motors. It has been able to accomplish by focusing on expansion through M&A’s while simultaneously strengthening its core R&D: “M&A’s have been a major factor leading to Nidec’s growth, and recently we are seeing even our group companies enhancing their positioning by engaging in M&A’s of their own. This is one aspect that we look to for strengthening the group as a whole and bring high value-added products to our customers. We have also opened up several research facilities dedicated to exploring motor technology in general. By consolidating our position as the foremost expert on motors and drive technology in general, and creating an environment for the world’s most talented researchers to converge and work together, we can create truly innovative products that pave the way for these new applications to make our lives more comfortable.” said Masahiro Hishida, Senior Vice President, Global Business Promotion for the Nidec Corporation.
The underlying demand for motors in the technologies of our future puts Nidec in a unique position, as Mr. Greg Gorman, Vice President, Business Development & Planning
Appliance, Commercial & Industrial Motor Business Unit, eloquently summed up: “
"The technological advancement that will make the society of the future possible is driven by the advancement of motors - after all it is motors that give machines the power to move. With motors accounting for approximately 50% of all electricity consumed worldwide, further advances in motor technology are bound to have a profound impact on our society.”
Nidec was established in Kyoto, Japan in 1973 by its Chairman, President and CEO Shigenobu Nagamori. In 1979, Nidec became the first company in the world to successfully commercialize a direct drive spindle motor for HDDs based on a brushless DC motor. Since then, the company has grown into a world-leading comprehensive motor manufacturer encompassing approximately 300 subsidiaries employing over 100,000 people throughout the world and with annual sales exceeding $10B. Nidec's motors, drives, generators and related products are found in a diverse range of applications including computers, smartphones, home appliances, automobiles, manufacturing plants, robots and more.