Motor starter functions changing to meet demands of the digital age

Motor starter functions changing to meet demands of the digital age

Motor starter functions are changing as more users digitalise their control and automation systems in the development of smart machines. The control of motors and motor load management is evolving as finding competitive advantage displaces basic motor starter functionality. In response, manufacturers are improving not only the design of new motor starters but also their functionality, configuration and integration.

The new digitized components simplify machine builder workloads because of built-in open communication capabilities. Thus, OEMs can work with several leading brands of motor starter equipment and still enjoy productivity enhancements without having to invest considerable time working out interoperability issues. They improve all aspects of motor starter configuration installation and operation.

Motor starter functions

Configuring motor starter functions needed catalogues to select the contactor type and correct overload followed by installation to the control system or PLC. But new products like TeSys island from Schneider Electric are changing that. TeSys comes with an online configurator using ‘avatars’ or digital objects with pre-programmed functionality ready installed. The know how to build the application is all contained in the avatar. When a machine builder selects the avatars for the motor starter functions needed, the configuration tool creates a bill of materials. Furthermore, when programming the system, the file from the configuration tool imports the settings from the selection process. This reduces time and duplication of effort and improves servicing documentation

Faster motor starter installation

Newer, modular motor starters are small and light and designed for installation and commissioning simplicity. Installation is fast, simple and accurate as the selected modules snap together on a DIN rail in a cabinet. A single connection to the field bus manages up to 20 starters, with no auxiliary wiring: the modules connect with a ribbon cable.

A bus coupler module centralises the connectivity for programming through the avatars selected by the configuration tool. Using EcoStruxure Machine Expert  simplifies commissioning requiring only two LEDs. One to indicates that the device is functioning and the other to show operation of the connected load.


Operating intelligent motor starters and motor load management components bring further benefits in machine performance by capturing machine asset data. For example, by gathering the type of load level and system level data, including motor starter statistic data. This includes product identification, energy usage data, motor performance and protection data and upstream protection data etc.

Using intelligent motor starters also improves trouble shooting and maintenance by freeing up maintenance personnel. If the system detects overheating, it sends a warning to the operator before unplanned machine downtime occurs. Analysis of data gathered allows the prediction of future performance of the machine.  This data is viewable from a browser and or mobile device.


Management of electric motor starter functions often concerns multiple electrical mechanical and maintenance challenges for end-users, designers and equipment manufacturers. As motor starter functions change for the digital age, they simplify motor management and help maintain operational performance.


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