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New directions in motors and drives

Dec. 5, 2019
Sheila Kennedy says maintenance pros are looking at motor reliability from all angles.

Motor and drive testing tools, maintenance solutions, and accessory technologies are supporting maintenance technicians in their efforts to improve the reliability of critical equipment. Here’s a look at new resources designed to help reduce maintenance demands.

About the Author: Sheila Kennedy
Sheila Kennedy, CMRP, is a professional freelance writer specializing in industrial and technical topics. She established Additive Communications in 2003 to serve software, technology, and service providers in industries such as manufacturing and utilities, and became a contributing editor and Technology Toolbox columnist for Plant Services in 2004. Prior to Additive Communications, she had 11 years of experience implementing industrial information systems. Kennedy earned her B.S. at Purdue University and her MBA at the University of Phoenix. She can be reached at [email protected].

Effective testing


Motor test instruments used in de-energized evaluation monitor parameters such as resistance, inductance, capacitance, impedance, reactance, phase angle, and current frequency response. There are also multiple methods for evaluating insulation resistance and surge/impulse tests to assess the integrity of turns, coils, phases, and windings to ground. “To a novice or even an experienced engineer, all of this data can be overwhelming and confusing,” observes Don Donofrio, instructor and consultant at The Snell Group.

The new De-Energized Motor Testing Data Analysis Wall Chart from The Snell Group provides a handy reference for most methods of motor testing. The laminated 3’ x 4’ visual aid “enables expedient recognition of motor anomalies and data correlation to confirm various problems,” Donofrio offers.

“The big hole” in motor maintenance and condition-based monitoring is determining the condition of a motor’s electrical insulation system, says Bill Kruger, technical and training manager at ALL-TEST Pro. Most plants automatically replace smaller motors and perform unnecessary or incorrect maintenance on larger ones only to find out the problem was with the cabling or a fault in the drive, he says.

Motor Circuit Analysis (MCA) from ALL-TEST Pro uses a three-minute series of low-voltage, nondestructive tests to exercise both the winding and the ground-wall insulation systems and quickly determine their condition. “MCA is being adapted worldwide to easily identify developing winding faults very early in the P-F curve, allowing the correct action to be performed on the machine before catastrophic failure occurs,” Kruger states.

Maintenance optimization


The reliability challenges of companies facing heightening production and efficiency demands are top of mind. Products such as the Perceptive Technologies family of online monitoring, diagnostic, and design services from Regal Power Transmission Solutions (PTS), a Regal Beloit company, are helping rotating equipment maintenance to become more predictive and proactive.

“In many cases, our customers’ equipment is old, and they are short-staffed, causing them a lot of stress,” comments Rob Fuller, technology manager for Perceptive Technologies at Regal PTS. “The one thing that seems to resonate with them is the use of monitoring and algorithms to effectively expand their maintenance staff and their capabilities. They are more interested than ever in how technology such as online 24/7 monitoring can be trusted to help them run a more-reliable operation.”

FORECYTE, an asset condition monitoring platform from Nidec Motor Corp., uses the industrial internet of things (IIoT) to meet the increasing demand for real-time streaming analytics to reduce operational costs and maximize the service life of critical assets. “Value will come not just from sensors collecting data, but from responsive actions of things connected to the internet,” says Thomas Schardt, Nidec’s senior director of IoT.

Smart motors with built-in IIoT capabilities such as condition sensing and communication enable real-time capture of machine and component data. Combining that with pattern recognition capability provides a whole-system view and an ability to respond pre-emptively to machine health and performance issues, adds Pranesh Rao, director of new products at Nidec.

Technology Toolbox

This article is part of our monthly Technology Toolbox column. Read more from Sheila Kennedy.

IPS Tracker, a new tablet-based reporting and job-tracking system from Integrated Power Services (IPS), is a digital reporting solution for repair information on critical rotating assets. Service technicians at every IPS Service Center use the tablets on the shop floor to document motor and generator repairs and add images, making the information available in real time. IPS customers can track their service and repair jobs, review their asset history, access complete documentation and standardized reports, and monitor their current job status 24/7, says Scott Melzer, vice president of IT at IPS.

Problem avoidance


Motor issues resulting from electrical discharge machining (EDM) can be mitigated with CoolBLUE inductive absorbers from MH&W International. The absorbers choke damaging discharge currents that come from variable-frequency drive (VFD) insulated gate bipolar transistors (IGBTs) before they can get to the motor.

“CoolBLUE is unique because it addresses EDM issues with the entire system well beyond bearing damage, such as ghost shutdowns, interference with sensitive electronic equipment, and LED light flickering,” says Kristie Giles, field support and development manager at MH&W International. “CoolBLUE is a permanent electrical solution to the problem that has plagued the industry since the inception IGBTs.”

About the Author

Sheila Kennedy | CMRP

Sheila Kennedy, CMRP, is a professional freelance writer specializing in industrial and technical topics. She established Additive Communications in 2003 to serve software, technology, and service providers in industries such as manufacturing and utilities, and became a contributing editor and Technology Toolbox columnist for Plant Services in 2004. Prior to Additive Communications, she had 11 years of experience implementing industrial information systems. Kennedy earned her B.S. at Purdue University and her MBA at the University of Phoenix. She can be reached at [email protected] or www.linkedin.com/in/kennedysheila.