Why do multicopter manufacturers choose individual components rather than the complete “combo” sets for their propulsion units?
When you design a drone, it is very convenient to pick an off the shelf propulsion combo (Motor, ESC, Propeller) from companies such as DJI, T-motor, KDE, and many more. You get all the data from their website; you know how the three components will work together and you can easily predict the power which is required to operate your drone. We understand this approach and believe the above-mentioned companies did a great job to make the propulsion selection for your multicopter as convenient as possible.
However, the multicopter market is getting more competitive and many companies have been switching to individual suppliers when it comes to the actual Motor, ESC and Propeller. We can provide you with the reasons why this has been happening. Furthermore, we will tell you about the current trends.
You are not using the propulsion combo to its fullest potential/performance.
One solution can never be a perfect fit for all drones. General propulsion combos are usually optimised for general usage and when your drone does not tick all the boxes – which, from our experience, happens to almost every drone, then it is not fully optimised. Also, there is a possibility to, for example, increase the flight time, reduce the noise and many more.
You will face challenges along the way.
It is only a matter of time when some of your components start failing you – ESC will be overheating, dust will be coming out to your motor, propellers will be delaminating due to sunlight, etc. The easiest way to fight those challenges is having a reliable partner to help you with those struggles. People who focus on one thing only are most likely to have the most experience in order to help you.
You will need certification soon.
If you are manufacturing UAVs which fly near people or if you are operating in countries with strict legislation, you will soon need to get your platform certified. In case you have to follow NASA/FAA/EASA standards, there will always be enormous pressure to make the operations safe. Having reliable suppliers can make your life so much easier as soon as you will have to follow these standards. You will need to adapt very fast if you don’t want to lose your market share. Good suppliers will easily fit your quality management system requirements and will go that one step further, right to their limits, to fulfil the demanding criteria and test the components to their absolute maximum.
There is a great competition coming to UAV components market segment
Once the UAV market segment gets big enough, there will be many new entrants to the component business. In fact, this is already happening. Many companies already have a UAV division as an addition to their standard operations, for example, an electric motors manufacturer whose core business is to deliver motors for medical components enters multicopter motor business. Now, the question is, who has more experience? The medical motor company which makes hundreds of thousands of motors every year and is being strictly regulated by medical industry with very strong R&D and testing facilities or a fairly young company outsourcing production of a few thousands of motors each year?
You might need something extra.
None of the above-mentioned companies, that provide propulsion combos, manufactures all of their components under one roof. When you need something slightly different you face a problem. Do you need a higher current for your ESC? Do you need a propeller for high altitudes? Do you need a slightly different KV for your electric motor? It proves to be a truly difficult task to get what you need in a reasonable amount of time.
We wrote this article in order to explain the never-ending questions: “Why should I switch this propeller from company XYZ to your off the shelf propeller? What more will I get from your propeller?” In the short run, you might not get that much. You have just switched one generic component for another generic component. However, in the long run, we will be there for you to cover your back in the turbulent market of UAVs.