Gloria P. Cahill discovers what energizes Emerson Motor Company, a thriving business that produces 320,000 electric motors a day.
The first rudimentary electric motor was built around 1821, the first electric generator 10 years after that and the first power stations 50 years later. Now, electric motors power homes, offices and U.S. industrial facilities, converting electrical energy to mechanical torque. Electric motors are used to produce virtually every kind of product, and provide innumerable services and processes to homes and businesses — and, soon, to all types of vehicles.
More than 100 years ago, during a sizzling St. Louis summer, Alexander and Charles Meston connected a fan to an electric motor. The year was 1890 and that electric fan was the start of the Emerson Motor Company. Fan motors became the core of the business; fractional-horsepower AC and DC motors were eventually added to the line. By 1973, the company had become the third largest electric motor manufacturer in the country. Now, it is the largest motor producer in the world.
In October 2000, Emerson Motor Company formed a new division, the Commercial Industrial Motor Group, by combining the Emerson Specialty and Air Moving division and the U.S. Electrical Motors division. (The latter was founded in 1908 and purchased by Emerson in 1962.) The new business unit focuses on providing customers with the following expanded benefits: a broadened product line that offers motors from 1,200 horsepower through 4,000 horsepower, including AC and DC designs and vertical and horizontal models; single-source convenience for four brands (U.S. Electrical Motors, Emerson Motors, Doerr and Status); the combined engineering expertise of more than 300 engineering staffers, in-depth knowledge of customer requirements and cutting-edge electronic tool sets; faster fulfillment, design, delivery and service; and a focused sales organization.
R.J. “Dick” Schul, group vice president, emphasizes the group’s operating philosophy by saying, “Emerson is committed to providing products, services and solutions in a way that will help our business partners grow.”
Emerson’s Commercial Industrial Motor Group has three product areas — Industrial Solutions, Air Moving and Specialty Motors. Industrial Solutions focuses on distribution and end users, providing MRO replacement motors, global contract management and unique availability and application needs. Emerson is the leader in vertical pump motor solutions for integral horsepower industrial motors. Air Moving provides motors to manufacturers of residential, commercial and industrial climate-control systems.
Specialty Motors serves original-equipment manufacturers for special product applications and coordinated inventory needs. Emerson is the leader in technology-based motor/application solutions and has the No. 1 or No. 2 position in the markets its serves for pumps and tools.
Robert B. Boteler, director of marketing services for Emerson Commercial Industrial Motors, describes the resources available to Emerson Motor customers: “Emerson, our parent company, is a $15.5 billion global business. Emerson Motor Company has headquarters on the Emerson campus in St. Louis, as part of the Appliance and Tools Group. Emerson Motor Company has 12,000 employees and 28 facilities around the world, including 13 in the U.S. and nine in Mexico. We have a total of 3.3 million square feet of manufacturing space, managed by our company-wide performance excellence program. Emerson Motor is a company that invests capital in the business and it shows. Our technology center has no equal in the industry and it’s a valuable resource for our customers.”
Emerson’s Motor Technolgy Center in St. Louis has 21 test facilities and laboratories dedicated to bearings and tribology, complete system reliability, magnetic design, material technologies, sound and vibration, structural design, project management, customer systems, electrical testing, rapid prototyping, electronics integration, connection systems, motor switching devices and thermal circuit design.
Motors, Motors, Everywhere
To illustrate the central role electric motors have in 21st century life styles, Boteler says that a look around any room can show that motors are involved in everything around us. He says, “Motors are used to manufacture everything from the bricks and lumber or whatever was used to make the building and the room, to the heating and air-conditioning system, the electronic equipment – everything. Motors power manufacturing equipment that make the products, and motors move the conveyors that carry products in process. Motors are also used to manufacture the truck, train, ship or whatever brought the product to the site.”
Boteler is no less enthusiastic about the role of the pumps that are powered by electric motors. “Pumps move liquid, air and material,” he says. “Again, think about the building and the air and water running through it. Electrically powered pumps make it happen from the water in the bathroom to the ventilation system.”
Emerson’s top sellers are the fractional-horsepower motors used in pools, spas, air-conditioning compressors and garage door openers. Its customers include Copeland® Air Conditioning, Delphi, Carrier, Rhem, Frigidaire® Company, Jacuzzi® , Lennox® Heating & Cooling, Maytag® , Thomas® Compressors & Vacuum Pumps, Baltimore Air Coil, ICP, Trane, TRW and Whirlpool® Home Appliances. Its major customers in the pump market include Armstrong Pump, Gould’s Pump, Flowserve, Otis Elevator and Sterling.
Emerson Motor Company is continually developing products to meet the growing and changing needs for electric motors. So far this year, the company has introduced Epact and Premium Efficient cooling tower motors, which are designed to operate in 100 percent humidity conditions and the most corrosive environments. Also new are Magellan electronic controls for residential applications, which are mounted separately from the motor, making it easier to install and service the controls. The new Rescue™ multihorsepower motors provide “one-size-fits-all” flexibility for gas or electric furnaces, and for condenser fans. Finally, Extreme E is a line of premium efficient pool and spa motors.
Emerson Motors has also been selected by Ecostar Electric Powertain and Power Conversion systems to assist in developing electric traction motors for fuel cell-powered electric vehicles that use hydrogen and have zero emissions. The electrically powered car seems a natural extension of the business built by Emerson — the company that started with an electric fan and that now produces 80 million motors a year.