Electric motors are one of the most common electrical components used both in industrial and household applications. In order to reduce world energy consumption and environmental impact, electric motors need to be improved in terms of efficiency and eco-sustainability. For this reason it is necessary to improve environmental consciousness, favouring the application of eco-design guidelines in the design phase, which is the most important stage where "green" solutions can be rapidly ideated, evaluated and optimized. Different aspects have to be concurrently considered in order to achieve a high quality product in a short time to market. In this context, the present paper describes an innovative web-based software platform to configure and simulate customized energy efficient electric motors. The core of the platform is a knowledge-based system which aims to standardize the design process according to the rules which represent the company know-how and best practices. The platform integrates different software tools to support the development from conceptual design to detailed design, and from the configuration of design solutions up to environmental impact assessment and manufacturing cost evaluation. It also provides a collaborative area in order to improve the collaboration among remote users involved in the design process, thanks to the sharing of important design data and models. The presented practical case studies demonstrate the effectiveness of the platform application. The achieved results demonstrate the improvement of the configured solutions in comparison with the traditional adopted motors. The new motors exhibit both a considerable increase in energy efficiency and at the same time relevant improvement in product sustainability combined with acceptable production costs. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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