Predictive Maintenance Program To Prolong Electric Motor Lifespan And Prevent Failure

We all know that it is important to properly look after our equipment and carry out maintenance where necessary, especially on electric motors, due its delicate parts that require service in order to work properly. Therefore, in order to prolong its service lifespan and prevent premature failure, it is absolutely critical that the right motor maintenance program is selected.

What is the Purpose of Developing a Motor Maintenance program?

The purpose of developing a consistent and actionable motor maintenance plan is to simply prolong the operation and value of a motor and avoid factory downtime and unnecessary expenditure of manual fixers or new parts.

Therefore, each motor-using processing belt and operation will need routine inspection with predictive maintenance in Singapore factories. All manufacturers of each motor will have their instructions on how to conduct cyclical testing and reports on the motor equipment that is used, so it is always best to refer to them prior to drawing up a new maintenance program effectively and efficiently.


How to Improve Motor Lifespan

As a basic rule of thumb, a motor should be inspected and tested at least once every six months. This ensures the longevity of the parts in action, and prevents problems from going unnoticed for too long. However, while inspecting and testing every six months is necessary, addressing issues as they arise and preventing future ones is the true trifecta—and key to saving money by prolonging a motor’s lifespan.

In order to determine which schedule to base your maintenance program on, it’s best to create a hierarchy of importance. At the top would be the small chains that determine output and nearing the bottom would be scratches on the body of the motor.

Here’s some examples of routine motor checks:

  • Blowing dust out of the motor
  • Ensuring oil rings turn with the shaft
  • Looking for grease leaks
  • Examining switches
  • Looking for any loose wires
  • Checking pressure and position of the brush
  • Ensuring ventilation is still accessible
  • Creating voltage phase checks
  • Considering fire hazards
  • Replacing half-worn brushes
  • Checking the oil levels



How Often Should You Implement Predictive Maintenance?

While each form of maintenance will be discussed to form a better understanding of a proper program, the distinctions of each, especially with regards to the predictive maintenance methods in Singapore are growing to be a standard worth adhering to and researching. You can read more on why predictive maintenance is important for electric motors here

With the structured implementation of electrical motor test equipment for static testing which includes Meg-ohm, Polarization index (PI)/ Dielectric Absorption (DA), Step voltage / DC high potential (DC-HiPot), as well as a surge test—they also use Dynamic monitoring to provide health and performance data on motors and generators. These various methods, working in conjunction, are able to more accurately and, through technology, stop issues with motors before they occur.

predictive-maintenance-of-electric-motorAn example of an electrical motor test equipment for static testing

Share accurate data and recommended solutions based on team’s individual expertise

However, the true key to any serviceable motor comes from a unified front. By having this research organized and at the ready, with team members that understand the complex nature of the readings—more parts of the whole are able to address issues before they become greater hindrances.


What Are Carefully Designed Motor Maintenance Programs?

When it comes down to it, the longevity and cost-effective use of electric motors is determined by three primary programs: preventative maintenance, predictive maintenance, and reactive maintenance. The implementation of these three programs, and the proper determination of when they are needed, is the difference between a motor’s lifespan lasting, or failing far earlier than expected. 

These maintenance programs are designed to resolve any number of issues in motors. Whether those issues are caused by, or could potentially be caused by: poor power quality, insufficient bearing lubrication, a shaft misalignment either parallel, vertical, horizontal, compound, or any mixture of those issues—longevity in motors comes from proactive solutions.

When you’re developing a plan for predictive maintenance in Singapore, it’s important to acknowledge and practice all three of the core types of maintenance rather than focusing on the one.

1. Preventive Maintenance

Much like the name might suggest, a preventative maintenance program looks to routinely check all parts of the motor are in good working condition and are fit to provide repetitive operations until the next set date for inspection.

In other words, the goal of this program of maintenance is to prevent any operational issues from surfacing. This is the most important type of maintenance that is very often overlooked as part of the whole system tracking.

When electrical motor test equipment is used to create an effective preventative maintenance program for one or more component to a production line, the chances of facing a part failure is heavily reduced, meaning the costs will also be reduced down-the-line.

2. Predictive Maintenance

The predictive maintenance program may come as a result of the screening process done in a cyclical pattern from the preventative maintenance program. I.e., when conducting an inspection with the preventative maintenance program and monitoring performance at regular intervals, the inspector can predict oncoming issues, faults, breaks, etc..

In essence, the goal of this program, as mentioned above, is to collect data and analyze operations through electrical motor test equipment to predict motor problems before they arrive based on comparable situations.

In this case, key maintenance and repairs can take place without needing to wait for a part break with increased downtime. Much like with preventative care, the predictive maintenance program saves time, production, and costs.

Read more: Breaking It Down: Predictive and Preventive Maintenance

3. Reactive Maintenance

In cases where implementing a preventative or predictive method of maintenance with electrical motor test equipment is not possible, there is the reactive maintenance program. The goal of this program is to resolve a problem after is has already occurred.

Implementing this within a maintenance program is essential for continued production. However, placing a larger focus on a preventative maintenance program or predictive maintenance program will reduce the likelihood of needing to perform maintenance reactively and will – ultimately – save the factory overhead expenditure at the same time.

Read more: Reactive Maintenance May Not Be the Best Idea


What are the things to look for when doing electric motor maintenance?

When performing electric motor maintenance, it’s important to keep a log of what specific issues are hoped to be addressed, and how best to react to a problem or prevent one occurring, without re-treading old ground or making an unnecessary solve. Obviously, a simple solution is the replacement of aged major parts—but that solution is often reactive, and not cost-effective. It is better to analyze the nuance of the issue, and address the minor grievances before they become major.

These factors are part of the 8 key aspects to consider with effective predictive maintenance:

1. Bearing Life

Bearings are always the first motor component to wear and need repair, thus making it the most crucial component to regularly check and maintain. The general lifespan of a motor bearing is around 16,000 to 40,000 hours and is set by the manufacturers.

Even those named ‘grease-for-life’ or ‘maintenance-free’ bearings will always require maintenance, repair, and replacement at some point.

To calculate how often the life left on a bearing is, you’ll need to take into account the material from which it is made, the duration of operation, the operating load, the speed of the motor and the correct lubrication. Using this information, you can then correctly assume how often the bearing should be lubricated, checked, and replaced. You can also check out our tips for bearing maintenance to ensure that your bearings are performing at the optimal level.

2. Bearing Lubrication


To go into a little more depth on this topic, ensuring bearing lubrication is at a continued level means to constantly maintain and inspect the bearing, itself. However, of course, choosing the right type of grease for your bearings is equally critical to ensure prolonged lifespan for both bearings and motor. 

It’s quite rare for bearings to meet their natural lifespan predicted by the manufacturers and this can happen for several reasons generally linked to predictive maintenance program care. For example:

  • Incorrect lubricant
  • Grease incompatibility
  • Motor casing flooded with grease
  • Lubricant starvation
  • Over-pressurization of the bearing encasement
  • Overheating due to excessive grease
  • Contamination in the lubricant
  • Incorrect mounting
  • Incorrect lubricant handling

Standard motors may come pre-greased as a ‘greased-for-life’ sale or they may need application upon mounting in the motor. Either way, they will always require inspection, maintenance and – sometimes – relubrication. 

3. Motor Cleanliness

Motor cleanliness is almost always the cause of premature damage or the call for repair. In order to bypass these issues, it is key to ensure cyclical cleaning procedures are put into place. The motor needs to be free of dust, debris, oil, excess grease and added weight.

4. Factory Cleanliness

Much alike the cleanliness of the motor, the factory in which it operates needs to also be free of excessive dust and debris that might then get caught in the motor or on the fans. Dust and debris in a factory environment can cause heat which can also lead to a motor needing premature repair or replacement.

5. Motor Ventilation

When assessing motor ventilation, the key to keep in mind is temperature. If the motor gets too hot, insulation can be damaged as well as other issues that reduce its lifespan.

To prevent this issue, keeping motors cool by installing them with space to breath and keeping the fan as clean as possible will maintain a cool, longstanding, motor.

6. Humidity and Condensation

Bearings and windings are especially vulnerable to humidity and condensation accruing. Furthermore, in specific types of motor and those that have been mounted incorrectly, the console can become exposed to water vapors and moisture that will lead to motor failure.

To ensure this is not a factor of pre-mature need for repair or replacement of the motor, it’s important to ensure drains are not blocked and that the outside temperature does not exceed the temperature of the motor.

7. Potential Loose Bolts or Connections

As with any moving part in a production line, loose components could cause the entire structure to rupture or become clogged. As well as this, it must be ensured that all electrical components are tight, torqued, and safe. Common contenders for fault include circuit breakers, fuses, cable connectors, and contactors.  

Therefore, it is important to have checks on bot and connections as part of the daily or monthly routine predictive maintenance program.

8. Voltage and Current Imbalance

Just as temperature must be regulated and kept neither too cool nor too hot, so too much voltage current be measured to prevent it from being too under or over the line.

Undervoltage can cause the motor to fluctuate in temperature, allowing for over heating or condensation accumulation. Overvoltage, on the other hand, can cause serious circuit shortages which will require full-part replacement at an immediate level to prevent the likelihood of a fire. After a bearing failure, overvoltage issues are the most common cause for motor failure.

That being said, to ensure that voltage is maintained, data must be analyzed from the three voltage phases to stop problems from happening with the stator insulation. Additionally, some severe voltage imbalance can even cause short-circuiting to occur, potentially causing further damage to selective parts of the motor.


In a Nutshell

Motors can last an extremely long time, and through cost-effective programs of preventative and predictive maintenance, they can very well earn their keep. That being said, in waiting for problems to occur and implementing reactive maintenance, a motor is less likely to have a long lifespan—and even if it does, the cost of its upkeep may far outweigh the profit of its use. With all that in mind, the proper implementation of the three programs is the best way to ensure a motor lasts as long as possible, and functions in the most cost-effective manner possible.


Here for Your Predictive Maintenance Needs

Here at SLS Bearings, we have all the tools you need to optimize the maintenance on your electric motors and perform key predictive maintenance in Singapore. So, if you like to know more about your motor, its bearings, the lubrication and so on, contact the SLS Bearings team today.

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by SLS on February 23, 2021

categories: Predictive Maintenance, Service

Written by SLS

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