April 18, 2012
April 18 2012
The brake compressors of the E5 Series bullet trains on the Tohoku Shinkansen are now powered by Satake's SIM Motor. The history of this motor and the road to its adoption are described below.
|E5 Series Shinkansen - Hayabusa|
Brake compressors equipped with Satake's 12kW single-phase AC motor are currently being delivered to the East Japan Railway Company (JR East) by domestic manufacturers in Japan.
Satake's motor has proven its effectiveness in installations overseas in countries including China and Taiwan, as well as domestic private railways and other branches of the Japan Railways Group. Satake's ability to respond to various requests and the motor's excellent performance have led to the motor's introduction to Japanese high speed bullet trains, called shinkansen. In addition to trains, the motor is highly regarded for use in fire pump systems of high-rise buildings, shopping centers, hotels, hospitals, and schools. The motor has flourished in these markets.
The development of Satake's motor began over 20 years ago. It was never expected to be a simple project, and it did encounter persistent headwinds and difficulties. There was even a period when the company was forced to withdraw from the motor business. Challenges continue to be met with determination.
The Motor Progresses
In 1985, the primary activities of Satake were the development and sales of grain processing machinery. Work on the motor began after an executive decision by the then President Dr. Toshihiko Satake. In those days, orders came in to build grain processing plants that required many motors in foreign countries, primarily in Asia. Problems began to occur with the motors then in use which would cause the electric generators powering the motors to stop. This problem could have been solved with an inverter, but there was a chance that such a solution would produce too much noise and could cause new malfunctions to arise. Instead, Toshihiko Satake directed that the development of the new motor be brought in-house so that the fundamental problem could be solved. Toshihiko's father, the first President, Riichi Satake invented the first power driven rice milling machine in Japan as well as the petroleum engine that ran it, achievements which proved to foreshadow these events.
There was a great desire to replicate Riichi Satake's success for modern times, using an electric motor instead of a petroleum one. Satake has been synonymous with rice milling for a long time, but the development of this electric motor is not far removed from the technical foundation of the company.
|Kazuo Kumamoto, General Manager and Director|
The first challenge of motor development was to control the frequency as needed without using an inverter. Without an inverter there would be no noise problem. The project, however, was abandoned in the middle of development due to difficult technical problems like overheating. Kazuo Kumamoto, the current General Manager and Director of Satake Electric Co., Ltd., the company responsible for the motor, was a member of the development team at that time and remembers the experience.
"I knew that if this motor could operate successfully without needing an inverter, it would become a revolutionary thing. I also knew that the technical and cost issues would not be easily overcome. Although multiple solutions were attempted, we were forced to give up."
The development team strongly desired success for the project, but they were forced to pursue different objectives. Since that time, multiple research studies were undertaken and the double stator induction motor*, a general purpose motor, was developed. It provided constant results. Some rays of hope began to shine once again on the Satake Induction Motor, called "SIM."
However, development once again ran into a wall. "Without name recognition or performance records comparable to other companies, it was difficult to gather market support for our model. Interest in SIM rapidly deflated both internally and externally." The development staff was gradually reduced from a dozen people to two. The company was not able to marketing SIM effectively through efforts like contracting with trading companies. "Without a track record, we couldn't even get in the door to pitch JR." And then, in 1992, the long struggle saw its first reward. A private test railway in Tokyo equipped one of its cars with break compressors equipped with Satake's motors. While a small victory, this test vehicle would be invaluable in future years when Satake approached the shinkansen railway companies.
Although there were finally good signs, the project was far from being a profitable business. Sales staff had already dwindled to three people, including Kumamoto. If this had been an ordinary company, the group would have been forced to close long ago. The three remaining people re-started and gradually expanded with the business opportunities. Third party tests confirmed the efficacy of the motor, and that report was leveraged to create new opportunities in the marketplace. In 1995, SIM was mounted on a working vehicle for the first time. The railway company quickly realized the excellent performance and reliability of this motor, leading the company to install more and more.
|Satake SIM Motor (T Type)|
In 2000, the single stator SIM motor for screw-type compressors which had performed so well in private railways, was adopted by JR East. 15 years had elapsed since development began, and the SIM motor gained trust by building a track record on private railways over that time.
Clear and positive six year durability and performance tests were concluded in March 2011, paving the way for the motor's debut on the "Hayabusa" and other Tohoku Shinkansen E5 trains. 25 years had elapsed since development began. "Initially, we did not know anything about motors. Most didn't know about the structure or principles of motors. These amateurs became experts and learned from books. The true story: in those days, we were furious to absorb the knowledge. The competition despised that amateurs were developing a motor and internally the project was treated like a burden. Today the motor is key to one of Satake's five business areas and the area is growing steadily. 10 domestic companies and 6 overseas companies are using this motor on their trains, and over 1,100 properties nationwide use this motor in their buildings' fire-prevention systems. We expect the market for this motor to continue to expand.
"I think that it takes strong perseverance from senior management to see a business through many unprofitable years. Looking back from the beginning of development, I see that Satake's 'nothing is impossible' spirit is true. With regard to the future of the motor business, efforts to reduce CO2 are being carried out and will spread to trains all over the world. We want to help the world by providing energy-saving and high efficiency motors, while at the same time growing Satake and this business. "
*A motor with double stators, known for low striking current and high starting torque.
* Please note descriptions in news releases are accurate as of the date of release and may differ from the most up-to-date information.