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Product couplings in the supplier policy with servo drives

How supplier policy of machine-builders with servo drives will change until 2016

The use of servo drives will strongly rise until 2016. How do the machine-builders purchase the servo drives, demanding servo converter and servo motor from a single source, through a single supplier? This report deals with product couplings with servo drives that are preferred by the machine-builders in their supplier policy until 2016.

Product couplings until 2016 at a glance

Purchasing servo converter and servo motor from a single source will remain the preferred product coupling also until 2016 for 41% of the users of servo drives. However, it will decrease by 4% in a market of increasing applications for servo drives.

To implement control and drive technology from a single supplier will aim a good third of servo drive users in 2016. This product coupling indicates the relatively strongest growth by 35%.

To apply for electronic drive technology from a single source in 2016 will be important for a quarter of the users of servo drives. This product coupling will win new supporters by 18% to 2016.

Supplier policy with servo drives in the German machinery industry until 2016.

This supplier policy of the machine-builders contributed substantially to change accordingly the supply of the automation manufacturers. So suppliers of drive technology integrated control technology while suppliers of control technology integrated drive technology into their product portfolio.  

We do not now comment this adjustment process in more detail, instead, we will outline the machine-builders’ reasons for their respective product couplings.

„It is going more strongly to control system and drive technology from a single source…“

  • „It is going ever more strongly to control system and drive technology from a single source because one would like to use only one programming interface.“ (Packaging machines)

  • „Today servo converter and servo motor from a single source is important, but we would prefer to have everything from a single source inclusive control technology.“ (Packaging machines)

  • „One would like to come closer toward control system and drive technology from a single source. So far the supplier policy has been growing historically. The current benefit is the high-tech level. In the future, when control system and drive technology will grow together, one would like to have only one partner for the core competence.“ (Printing/paper handling machines)

  • „We have got only a single supplier. So we need only reduced training requirements, knowledge, and we use the same technique for maintenance of the machines.“ (Food processing machines)

  • „If it fits we will take everything from a single source in the future. But in this case the entire portfolio of the supplier must be right. If we changed that in the future, it would mean on the other hand an easier cooperation for us. We had then only 1 instead of 5-10 partners. That one must then provide the suitable portfolio.“ (Textile machines)

  • „It is philosophy to have everything from a single source and this approach has proved its worth with problems. The technical department prefers everything from a single source while the purchase department is less pleased because of the price negotiations. However, if we fixed it, it will be fixed, i.e. at this point the technical department has the decisive competence.“ (Rubber/plastics machines)

  • „The product coupling enables to use the whole competence of the supplier and to build up a suitable know-how of our staff. Thus the solution will remain up-to-date. We have and also claim the possibility to directly intervene with the supplier. Of course, that may be still extendible.“ (Packaging machines)

  • „Control system and servo drive are coming more and more from a single source in the area of controls of machine tools. Servo motors, on the other hand, are frequently purchased parts. There is a clear trend to integrated solutions of control technology and converter technology.“ (Machine tools)

  • „Complexity of application with machine tools requires everything from a single source.“ (Machine tools)

  • „We have a single supplier benefiting from a conclusive technology and without interface problems.“ (Food processing machines)

...but also: „With control system and drive technology from a single source we would become too dependent."


  • „With control system and drive technology from a single source we would become too dependent. We prefer to choose the best supplier among several ones, including prices. Otherwise there would also be no competition.“ (Wood processing machines)

  • „We would prefer to purchase control system and drive technology from a single source, however, that is not possible for large performances. So the servo converter comes from Siemens and the motion control from Beckhoff. We dislike motion control from Siemens. In regard to the main supplier we distinguish between turnover and importance. The large turnover is made with the main supplier Siemens because of the large drives, however, in regard to the know-how, the important partner is Beckhoff.“ (Machine tools)

  • „We want to have each component compatible with each other and at the same time we want to be able to purchase everything individually, no matter be it the motor, the converter or the control system. With the changed supplier policy we are expecting to be able to cherry-pick and to manage better with customer requests.“ (Food processing machines)

"Getting servo converter and motor from a single source because otherwise nothing at all would work..."

  • „The most important is that we get servo converter and the motor from a single source because otherwise nothing at all would work. If you fail only with one parameter, then one supplier will shift the responsibility to other. By separating both, we had made very bad experiences.“ (Building/glass/ceramic machines)

  • „It would be nice if even servo converter and motor came from a single source and we were not forced to combine them. Then there would be no problem with the interfaces.“ (Rubber/plastics machines)

  • „We are also mixing converter and motor depending on customer requirements, but in the future we want to purchase them from a single source, because otherwise specific problems may occur, such as who is the partner for a problem.“ (Food processing machines)

  • „We learnt the hard way separating converter and motor. So today both are coupled and we enjoy handling benefits. The motor data is integrated in the converter, just tables have to be clicked, the classification is easier.“ (Packaging machines)

  • „We are applying to the servo technique towards its limits, also in regard to cost optimisation. It is no good using different components if problems occur with the customer, even the service technician could not cope with it.“ (Wood processing machines)  

...but also: There are price reasons against servo converter and servo motor from a single source.


  • „The avoidance of product couplings serves “price optimisation”. Once converter and motor were purchased from a single source but prices had been less favourable. It put you in a more favourable position if you separate both purchases.“ (Printing/paper handling machines)

  • „We dislike motor and converter from a single source, in fact, we separate both as much as possible. 1. Thereby we benefit from less complexity and 2. Prices are lower because of the bundled numbers of items.“ (Rubber/plastics machines)

  • „Control system and motion do not have to come from a single source, neither servo motor nor converter. At this point we are going to the best price. Bundling provides benefits with costs and prices.“ (Robotics and automation)

Electronic drive technology from a single source will purchase a quarter of machine-builders with servo drives until 2016.

„To rely on a main supplier for drive technology makes order processing, assemply and line-up easier…“

  • „To rely on a main supplier for drive technology means easier order processing, simplifications in the test field, easier assembling/start-up and easier training of our service technicians.“ (Building/glass/ceramic machines)

  • „With a main supplier we have only one partner for the whole range of drive technology, even as FC is regarded. That provides benefits for us as a small company.“ (Conveyer)

  • „We stick to a main supplier with the benefits: only one software, one programming, and one standardised service.“ (Wood processing machines)

  • „Drive functions are easier to manage, if the range of drive products comes from a single source. The benefit is also clearly related to the price strategy. Regarding the number of items and the amount, other prices can be achieved as if a large number of suppliers had been involved.“ (Wood processing machines)

...but also again price reasons to use two main suppliers.


  • „We have two suppliers if one does not keep in track, we still have a further supplier.“ (Rubber/plastics machines)

  • „We have two main suppliers so firstly we are more independent than with one supplier and secondly we are getting a more favourable offer if the related supplier knows that we provide a second source.“ (Rubber/plastics machines)

  • „Our benefits are purchase flexibility and cost benefits, i.e. we are able to take part in decision-making regarding prices by orientation towards the supplier with the best offer. That is why we also designed the machines in such a way that various motors are optionally suitable. So if Siemens requests a price that is too high, we can decide e.g. for Yaskawa. For this purpose we must only change the parameter set from A to B and we can already use the motor of the competitor. That is managed deliberately in such a way in our company so that we do not surrender ourselves to one supplier because we frequently have alternative suppliers.“ (Textile machines)

Representative market research

These results are based on interviews with 28% of the machine-builders in the ten automation-relevent sectors with 100 and more employees. The topic of this market research is the future of the use of servo drives until 2016 in the German machinery industry.

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