Motors and Drives: What Are Their Differences?

Motors and drives are two equipment pieces that are quite common to industrial machinery, ensuring that such assemblies are given the proper force and power needed for conducting operations. While motors and drives are often used in unison for the functionality of various machinery, each serves a distinct role. In this blog, we will discuss the difference between a motor and a drive, allowing you to better understand their unique functionalities and applications.

In its most basic form, a motor is a type of machine that is capable of producing mechanical energy from electrical energy. Electric motors operate through the principle of magnetism, utilizing magnetic fields to create rotational motion. To produce the magnetic field, AC or DC current is fed into the motor depending on its type and part makeup while the movement of current creates magnetism. By increasing the strength of the current flowing through the motor, the magnetic field can be bolstered as well. With the force generated by the magnetic field, the motor parts will begin to revolve and produce mechanical energy that may be used for varying means.

Since the advent of motor technology and its subsequent advancements and breakthroughs, numerous types have come about which may benefit varying applications. Depending on one’s needs, the most common motor types include DC motors, brushless DC motors, synchronous motors, and induction motors. Motors may also be paired with various parts such as braking resistors or protection relays for the means of bolstering or managing their operational conditions.

The drive, on the other hand, is a type of device that is regularly used for the means of controlling the speed of machinery. Depending on the industrial process, there may be different speeds required for various products or operations. With the use of a drive, a pump, fan, or similar component may have its speed adjusted as needed with high efficiency as compared to other flow control techniques. Drives are often referred to as either adjustable or variable, and their classification depends on whether speeds are set through predefined steps or a more general range. Similar to motors, drives may come in a number of types such as mechanical drives, hydraulic adjustable speed drives, continuously variable transmission drives, and electric adjustable speed drives. While each may vary in their drive parts, all serve a similar purpose in providing acceleration control and reducing energy consumption through the adjustment of speeds.

A tachometer, or tach generator, is an instrument that may be found in machinery containing drives and motors, and they are capable of measuring the speed of motors or other apparatuses. Rather than control speeds, a tachometer is simply used to find the RPM of the motor. Tachometers can be useful for the operation of drives, allowing for speed feedback to be obtained for the means of furthering control over system operations.

When used for industrial machinery or equipment, the motor and drive may work together to carry out various tasks. With either a mechanical or electrical motor, a rotational or linear force can be produced for the means of powering a machine. With the use of the drive, the energy that is provided to the motor is harnessed and controlled. As such, the drive can act as a speed and torque limiting device as it controls the amount and frequency of electricity that is fed to the motor. As the motor’s magnetic field and produced force are dependent on the amount of current they are provided, the drive is a very useful component for varying operational conditions.


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