Transforming the design of electric motors

Motors are at the heart of all electric machines. World-leading software research and developed in our Scottish Power Electronics and Electric Drives (SPEED) Laboratory over a period of 25 years has helped in the design of thousands of new motors, enabling the manufacture of millions of machines across a range of industrial sectors. From compressors in refrigerators to the motors in power tools, SPEED has improved the design of products manufactured by over 60 companies across the world including Bosch, General Motors, Grundfos and Rolls Royce.

In the 1980s, modern electrical machines demanded new motor designs. An experienced motor engineer could take weeks to develop a new design without knowing if the design was optimal. For more mature machine types at that time, there was no commercially available design package. The SPEED software overcame all these difficulties and was designed for a range of modern motor types. It was user-friendly and provided simulation solutions for optimised designs in hours rather than weeks, significantly increasing productivity and enabling differentiated product ranges and the design of better motors. In addition, the SPEED Laboratory provided documentation and comprehensive training packages for all companies who used the software tools.

By 2011, more than 1,000 engineers in 60 primarily large multinational companies utilised the software as a key tool for the design of electric machines, including:

  • General Motors who rely on SPEED software to design the critical motors in their hybrid and electric vehicles, including those for propulsion and transmission, e.g. the Chevrolet Volt, which was introduced in 2010 and sold over 38,000 vehicles worldwide by June 2013;
  • And the world's largest pump manufacturer, Denmark-based Grundfos, who had annual sales of motors in the range from 10-14 million units in the period 2008-2013; products associated with around 50% of these sales have been designed or upgraded using SPEED software.

Find out more:

School of Engineering research impact case studies
How to access research expertise in the College of Science & Engineering

First published: 9 September 2014