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Posted on 01 March 2019

Interview on Technology of Current Transducers

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with Paul Van Iseghem, President and CEO LEM

By Bodo Arlt, Editor BPSD

 

Bodo Arlt: What end markets drive current transducer technology?

Paul Van Iseghem: For LEM there are four focus markets that drive the current transducer business development. Our business started 35 years ago when the founder of LEM, Mr Jean Pierre Etter developed the first current transducer intended for the Geneva tramway. The traction and trackside applications were the first market and original driver. Our second and today still largest market are the industrial applications which include motor drives, welding and various power conversions like for the new energies such as solar power and wind power. These two areas form the traditional business for LEM. The third area is the automotive application where LEMs transducers fulfill two important functions: the battery management of the car and the drive by wire applications such as electronic power steering and braking. Energy and Automation is the fourth and newest area for transducer technology. We are experiencing solid growth rates and working hard to develop new products for all markets. Actually the traditional markets do very well during this era with increasing energy prices!

Bodo Arlt: What is LEM’s position besides the wide range of standard transducers?

Paul Van Iseghem: LEM has focused on specific industries in order to further grow and develop our business. Our goal is to maintain and strengthen our market leadership position by targeting new markets and new applications with new products. For this it is vital to understand both the different industries and their applications in order to anticipate what our customers will need. Close collaboration with our customers is a tradition at LEM and we can offer both standard and specially customized products.

BodoArlt: What are the technologies that can offer innovation for leadership?

Paul Van Iseghem: There are different technologies to measure current and voltage. LEM has become the market leader by choosing the best method for the respective product. The measurement is always based on either Hall-effect, Fluxgate or Rogowski technology. LEM has decided to focus the development in two key directions. For example, miniaturization where we have just successfully launched a fully fledged current transducer in an SO8 package. For the first time we have managed to integrate the magnetic concentrators onto a chip. The second direction that we are heading towards is a higher level of integration in our transducers. In our newest Energy and Automation products that are primarily intended for the Automation market we have managed to integrate interfaces to microcontrollers for example.

Bodo Arlt: Is the next generation of products more in silicon?

Paul Van Iseghem: There is a clear trend towards smaller and higher performing transducers. To support this demand we have decided to develop our first ASIC (Application Specific Integrated Circuit) about 8 years ago. Thanks to our profound knowledge and IP today we have taken this development to the next level and integrated the sensing elements, the magnetic circuit and the electronics into a chip by launching the Minisens – the first fully fledged transducer in an SO8 package. You can see Silicon has become a part of our solution.

Bodo Arlt: What makes LEM different from other suppliers?

Paul Van Iseghem: LEM has maintained a leadership position both in terms of market share but also in terms of our cutting edge technology. Being able to offer our customers these high quality products and the customer service to match are our real advantages. We have an in-depth product and application knowledge that is unparalleled in the industry. LEM is unique to offer a 5 year warranty to all its products worldwide!

Bodo Arlt: What makes LEM different from traditional discrete suppliers?

Paul Van Iseghem: LEM refused to look at the Components business as a Commodity business. Through innovation –new applications-new products, we consistently develop new markets. This dynamic is quite different from many others.

Bodo Arlt: How much is LEM involved in the customer’s application?

Paul Van Iseghem: The close collaboration with our customers is one of LEMs competitive advantages. We are very happy to be able to work together and develop special solutions for our customers this way. This is how the first transducer for the automotive industry was created. We had a request from a major manufacturer for a transducer to manage the battery in a car and developed this for them.

Bodo Arlt: How much is LEM involved in motor applications using the advantage of transducers?

Paul Van Iseghem: As already mentioned earlier, the electric motor drives are the main contributors for the current transducers. These variable speed drives need very close integration with current measurement. With the new concepts to drive motors without speed control it is even more important to have a precise current control.

Bodo Arlt: What will be the next new transducer products?

Paul Van Iseghem: The Minisense is the ground-breaking new product that we are currently launching. This tiny transducer has a huge potential. It is opening new markets such as the white goods and the HVAC industry which are new applications for us. The Minisens has been the feature product of your February edition.

Bodo Arlt: What will be the future for transducers in Power Metering?

Paul Van Iseghem: As part of our Energy & Automation segment we have just launched Wi-LEM (Wireless Local Energy Meter) this is a product that is focused on sub-metering the power consumption in factories and buildings. Sub-metering is a very powerful tool and allows you to allocate responsibility and take actions for reducing peak power by implementing smart solutions.

Bodo Arlt: Do we expect other monolithic solutions for transducers in the future?

Paul Van Iseghem: The Minisens is based on a monolithic solution. With this product we have an invention that will take a long time to surpass. We have achieved the highest performing and low cost level of integration on a chip today.

Bodo Arlt: Who are your competitors you believe will stimulate the race for leadership?

Paul Van Iseghem: LEM has 800 employees world-wide and a very dedicated management team. Together with our strategic priorities we are well on track for success. I appreciate healthy competition though to the benefit of a dynamic development of our business.

Bodo Arlt: Thank you, Paul, for your time and we look forward to a successful future for power transducers.

 

Paul Van Iseghem

Paul Van Iseghem

Paul Van Iseghem is the Chief Executive Officer and President of LEM. He became CEO and President in 2004, having held the role of President of LEM Components since 2000. Prior to his appointment as President, Paul was a member of the board of LEM Holding SA from 1999-2000. Paul has been credited with consolidating the company’s position as the leading manufacturer of electrical transducers and driving a programme of innovation that has expanded the markets addressed by LEM. Paul has held senior roles within a number of leading companies in the electrical sector, including Chief Operating Officer for Valmont Europe, Chief Operating Officer, VP Operations, EMEA for UTC Carrier and World-Wide VP Engineering and Operations for ITT Cannon. Paul achieved a Ph.D. in Engineering, Material Science from the University of California, Los Angeles, USA.

 

 

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