October 27, 2021

Power transformer manufacturers to resolve cost pressures

Due to the overall oversupply of market conditions, as the world’s second largest power transformer production site after Japan, suppliers in Greater China have already frozen their capacity expansion plans. In addition, raw material prices have steadily increased. Coupled with rising wages, appreciation of the renminbi, and tightening labor supply, production costs have risen to the highest levels in recent years, making the situation even more complicated. The impact of small and medium-sized manufacturers is particularly obvious. Because they cannot withstand the pressure of shrinking profit margins, they can hardly take into account market share and are forced to increase product prices. More manufacturers are taking measures such as increasing the level of production automation to strictly control labor costs, while extending the lead-time to control inventory levels. At the same time, they also actively promote the diversification of product development and supply chain integration to maintain business growth.

Power transformers have a wide range of applications in many fields, and the continuous growth of the digital product market, as well as the rise of energy-saving products and solar-powered products are expected to promote the long-term development of their industries. Therefore, in spite of many challenges, manufacturers in the Greater China region are still optimistic that by 2010 at least 5 billion power transformers will be produced locally with an output value of 6.6 billion U.S. dollars.

From a technical point of view, as mobile phones, notebook computers, digital cameras, and other consumer electronics products are getting smaller, miniaturization will continue to be the most important trend for power transformers in the coming years. In addition, reducing power consumption and improving performance are also the focus of the manufacturers.

Power transformers with a rated power of 150W or less and a low standby power consumption are currently the mainstream products of Taiwanese manufacturers. Large manufacturers usually produce standard models in large quantities, while small and medium-sized manufacturers provide more flexible services. Also, manufacturers often use ferrite and silicon steel as cores for high-frequency transformers, and low-frequency transformers use copper as the core. This is because copper materials are the most cost-effective.

A company in Taiwan has a power transformer with no load power consumption of less than 0.5W and a full load power consumption of 150W, which is mainly applicable to notebook computers, mobile phones, and power supply products. Most of its transformers are produced in Guangdong, mainly OEMs, but also provide ODM business. Its products are CCC and RoHS compliant and 80% are exported, mainly to Europe and the United States. The company also plans to introduce a new model with a power of 120W to 150W in the near future, designed specifically for notebook computers.

Driven by the demand from the home appliance market, compact, high-frequency and low-power products are the mainstream products of transformer manufacturers in Hong Kong. Manufacturers can provide a variety of ready-to-use products, and accept customer specifications and provide sample production.

Security is the most important factor for manufacturers in the region. Most suppliers do not want to sacrifice quality in order to reduce prices. The choice of the movement depends mainly on the target application, not the cost. Therefore, in Hong Kong, the most commonly used is laminated silicon steel cores.

Transformers used for switching power supplies and insulation transformers installed in telecommunication equipment usually use ferrite cores; nickel cores are commonly used in intermediate frequency transformers; low frequency applications mainly use grain oriented silicon steel cores. On the other hand, the choice of winding material, core and related devices needs to be based on the target temperature range, voltage regulation, operating frequency, size and weight.

For customers in the low-end market, Ascot Electric Corporation provides linear transformers using copper primary coils and aluminum secondary coils, which can save buyers 6 to 12% of the cost. At the same weight, aluminum costs at least 50% less than copper, but its conductivity is only about 62% of the latter. The company's linear transformers use different sizes of EI, ER, PQ, RM, EE/EF, ETD, and EPC core designs, and can use DR, UU, ET, and other coils.

Planar transformers are very common in the mainland, and the newly introduced products include 5W-20kW/20kHz-2MHz series planar transformers, which are 80% smaller in volume and weight than the standard models. The power density of these products is usually as high as 1.86g/W and the efficiency can reach 98%. Cost-effectiveness may be the biggest selling point of flat transformers produced in the mainland. The production cost of these transformers is only half that of the standard models and is mainly used to switch current and power converters, especially low-end models. At the same time, the R&D focus of suppliers is to improve the efficiency and reliability of transformers while reducing noise and energy consumption. Key raw materials such as silicon steel, ferrite, enameled wire and plastics are mainly sourced locally.

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