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  • Writer's pictureJeremy Hixson

Electric Motors 101


Industrial electric motors are a vital component in many manufacturing and industrial processes, responsible for powering equipment such as pumps, fans, conveyors, and more. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, industrial electric motors consume about 63% of all the electricity used in manufacturing industries. Therefore, proper maintenance of these motors is essential for ensuring their reliable operation and prolonging their lifespan.


In fact, regular maintenance can increase the efficiency of an electric motor by 5-10%, and can also prevent unexpected downtime which can cost an industrial facility thousands of dollars per hour. In this blog post, we will discuss best practices for maintaining industrial electric motors to ensure they operate at peak performance and to reduce the risk of costly repairs or replacements.

1. Regularly check and maintain the motor's lubrication levels:


Industrial electric motors require lubrication to reduce friction and wear on the moving parts. According to a study by the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), over 60% of electric motor failures are caused by improper lubrication. This helps to prolong the life of the motor and prevent damage. It is important to check the lubrication levels regularly and add lubricant as needed. It is also important to use the correct type of lubricant for the motor, as specified by the manufacturer.



2. Keep the motor and surrounding area clean:

Dust and debris can accumulate on the motor and in the surrounding area, causing damage and reducing efficiency. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) found that a 1/8-inch layer of dust on the surface of a cooling fan can reduce its efficiency by up to 50%. It's important to keep the motor and surrounding area clean to prevent this. This can be done by regularly cleaning the motor with compressed air or a brush, and keeping the surrounding area free of dust and debris.



3. Check the motor's cooling system:

The motor's cooling system is essential for preventing overheating and damage. The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) found that cooling-related problems cause about 35% of all electric motor failures. It's important to make sure the cooling system is working properly by checking for proper airflow and ensuring that the cooling fins are free of debris. If the cooling system is not working properly, it can cause the motor to overheat and fail.



4. Conduct regular thermal imaging:

This helps to detect any hot spots in the motor and prevent damage. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) found that overheating is one of the leading causes of electric motor failures, accounting for about 25% of all failures. Thermal imaging can detect problems such as overloading, poor ventilation, and insulation failure. It can be done by using a thermal imaging camera to measure the temperature of the motor and comparing it to the manufacturer's specifications



5. Regularly inspect the motor's electrical connections and wiring:

Loose or corroded connections can cause damage to the motor and reduce efficiency. A study by EPRI found that over 25% of electric motor failures are caused by electrical problems, including loose or corroded connections. It's important to check the connections and wiring regularly to ensure they are tight and free of corrosion. This can be done by visually inspecting the connections and wiring, and tightening or replacing them as needed.


6. Test the motor's insulation resistance:

This will help to detect any problems with the motor's insulation and prevent damage. The EPRI also found that insulation problems are one of the most common causes of electric motor failures, accounting for about 20% of all failures. It is important to test the insulation resistance regularly using a megger or other insulation tester. This will help to detect any problems with the insulation before they cause damage.


7. Perform regular vibration analysis:

This will help to detect any problems with the motor's bearings or other components, and prevent damage. Vibration analysis can detect problems such as misalignment, and imbalance, and worn bearings. According to the International Society of Automation (ISA) found that approximately 45% of electric motor failures are caused by mechanical problems, including worn bearings. It can be done by using a vibration sensor to measure the vibration levels of the motor and compare them to the manufacturer's specifications.


8. Have a regular schedule for maintenance, and stick to it:

Regular maintenance will help to ensure that any potential problems are identified and addressed before they cause damage. It is important to have a schedule for maintenance and stick to it, this will help to ensure that the maintenance is performed regularly and on time. It is also important to keep a record of the maintenance performed for future reference.


By following these best practices and keeping a regular schedule for maintenance, industrial electric motors will be well-maintained and have a longer lifespan. Also, it will help to ensure the safety of the operation and the people around the facility.


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