Upgrading to more energy-efficient motors can be an important step to improve a facility's equipment reliability, increase productivity, and reduce downtime and repair costs.
The Copper Development Assn. (CDA) recommends that individuals involved in the specification, design, selection and installation of electrical motor systems adopt a motor management program, which examines a facility's needs whether to repair an old, worn-out motor or specify a new unit. Working with government and industry-based motor experts, CDA created a three-part Motor Management Program. Part 1 involves creating a motor inventory and developing repair and replacement guidelines.
Currently, there are three recognized efficiency classes for motors, with premium-efficiency motors representing the most energy-efficient option.
"The goal of a motor management plan is to take advantage of opportunities for energy savings and increased productivity using energy-efficient, reliable motors such as premium-efficiency motors," said Richard deFay, project manager for CDA's Sustainable Energy Program. "This allows maintenance supervisors and facility managers to make easier replace-vs.-repair decisions and see fewer motor failures in the field."
It's widely understood that one of the least cared-for and maintained industrial tools in the workplace today is the electric motor. When not properly administered, motors can cost businesses billions of dollars in wasted energy and operating costs annually.
Facilities could reduce losses and increase profits by instituting a motor management plan that is flexible and tailored to the size and complexity of their organization and its motor population, notes the CDA, which, in conjunction with the Washington State University (WSU) Energy Extension Office, offers hands-on training and assistance to companies, military and utilities to develop motor management plans.
"The object is to identify the energy-savings opportunities," explained Gilbert McCoy, energy systems engineer, WSU. "The motor management plan not only indicates savings in dollars but also gives the user a path that describes how those savings can be obtained."
Once a plant's motor inventory is collected, a company can use a free data management software application such as MotorMaster+, which is available for free from the U.S. Department of Energy, to compare the cost of repairing the motor vs. the cost of replacing it with a new unit. The data can be referenced for future needs, including identifying where motors can be sourced locally if replacement is required; scrapped or repaired and stored in inventory; or whether regular periodic maintenance is vital for reliability and efficiency.
"The key question from the start should be 'Do you repair a motor when it fails or replace it with a new premium-efficiency model?'" deFay said. "While the repair costs are typically lower than buying a new motor, you'll pay for it later when a critical motor fails and the production line grinds to a halt."