The Importance Of Preventative Maintenance For Electric Motors

The Importance Of Preventative Maintenance For Electric Motors

You rely on your electric motors to power your everyday operations — that’s why it’s so important to keep them running as efficiently as possible for as long as possible. Implementing a preventive maintenance program is essential for achieving this goal.

What Is Preventive Maintenance for Electric Motors?

Preventive maintenance involves performing inspections, cleaning and repairs at scheduled intervals, such as once every three to six months. For example, you might remove dust or oil buildup from your electric motor every month. Or you might tighten any loose connections between parts once every six months. 

Complex equipment like electric motors require regular preventive maintenance to ensure their sensitive internal components are in good enough condition to continue operation. If the technician performing maintenance identifies an issue, they can quickly resolve it and return the motor to normal operation.

Preventive vs. Corrective vs. Predictive Maintenance

In your day-to-day operations, you might encounter various types of maintenance procedures. The biggest difference between each type is the interval at which you perform them.

Here’s how they differ: 

  • Preventive maintenance: You perform preventive maintenance periodically according to a predetermined schedule. This routine helps you stay on top of potentially serious issues that can cause unexpected breakdowns and costly downtime. 
  • Corrective maintenance: You perform corrective maintenance — sometimes called reactive maintenance — after a breakdown or malfunction occurs. It’s typically unplanned and results in costly downtime that disrupts your production process.
  • Predictive maintenance uses data analysis to identify operational anomalies and potential equipment defects, enabling timely repairs before failures occur. It aims to minimize maintenance frequency, avoiding unplanned outages and unnecessary costs.

The Benefits of Regular Preventive Maintenance

Here are the five most important reasons to implement a preventive maintenance program.

The Importance Of Preventative Maintenance For Electric Motors

1. Cost Savings

The biggest and most obvious reason to establish a preventive maintenance schedule is that it will help you reduce both your operational expenses (OPEX) and capital expenses (CAPEX) by:

  • Preventing downtime: Unplanned downtime can cost you hundreds or even thousands in lost productivity. Keeping your electric motor in good condition helps you prevent malfunctions or breakdowns from disrupting operations for long periods of time.
  • Fixing issues early: Preventive maintenance helps you identify minor issues before they can escalate into serious problems, saving you from having to spend more on major repairs or premature replacements.
  • Maximizing energy efficiency: While older equipment naturally requires more energy as it ages, regular maintenance can help minimize your efficiency losses and electricity costs by ensuring your electric motor is always in the best condition possible. 

2. Reduced Downtime

Downtime is expensive — according to some sources, it can cost industrial facilities millions or billions per year. While it’s impossible to completely eliminate downtime altogether, a preventive maintenance schedule can help you keep it to a minimum. 

The main objective of preventive maintenance is preventing breakdowns, malfunctions and other serious problems from impacting your operations. By identifying and fixing minor issues right away, you can keep your electric motor from suffering a major meltdown that disrupts operations for a long period of time.

3. Enhanced Operational Performance

Equipment becomes less efficient as it ages — it’s an inevitable fact. However, preventive maintenance minimizes your efficiency losses.

During preventive maintenance activities, your technician may uncover issues that could have the potential to grow into something more serious. Proactively resolving these minor issues helps bring your electric motor back to the best possible condition for its age, so you can maintain high throughput and energy efficiency.

4. Extends Equipment Life

Keeping your motor in good condition for as long as possible helps you maintain high efficiency and productivity in your everyday operations. A well-maintained electric motor can last years longer than one that is poorly maintained, so you won’t need to replace it as soon. And the longer you can keep your motor in good working condition, the more you can save on repairs and replacements.

5. Keeps Employees Safe

Poorly maintained equipment is a safety hazard, especially in facilities where employees are working in close proximity to your motors. A damaged electric motor can overheat, putting nearby employees at risk of serious injury. Identifying and resolving issues through regular preventive maintenance helps you minimize this risk. 

It also helps you stay compliant with guidance from the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which states that preventive maintenance of non-safety equipment is an essential consideration for hazard reduction.

Important Electric Motor Maintenance Tasks to Include in Your Routine

When designing a preventive maintenance schedule, it’s important to clearly define which tasks your technician will need to complete and when.

How often you need to perform specific maintenance tasks typically varies based on your facility and the conditions your motor operates in. For example, harsher operating environments typically require more frequent maintenance intervals than less intensive ones.

Some of the most important preventive maintenance tests and activities to perform include:

  • Visual inspection: Examine the entire motor for signs of overheating, corrosion and debris buildup. Frequent visual inspections are especially important for motors operating in rugged environments, as more demanding requirements increase the risk of equipment breakdown.
  • Motor winding test: An overheating winding can cause serious damage to the motor, which is why you should look for signs of burning or cracking during the inspection. You may need to disassemble the motor to perform a diagnostic test.
  • Vibration Analysis: Motor vibration can create numerous issues with your electric motor, eventually leading to failure. Having a trained Vibration Analysis technician perform quarterly data collection and evaluate the amplitude trend can help you predict and avoid future downtime events.
  • Bearings check: Inspect the motor bearings during regular operation for noise and abnormal vibrations, which can indicate major issues like poor lubrication, excessive wear and debris buildup.

Whoever is performing preventive maintenance must be an experienced technician who knows how to safely handle electrical components. They must also use the proper protective equipment, such as approved test devices and dielectric-tested gloves.

Of course, you may not have staff who are qualified to work with electric motors. Keep your employees safe by calling on experienced professional electricians to handle your electric motor preventive maintenance tasks for you. 

The Importance Of Preventative Maintenance For Electric Motors

Trust IEC for Electric Motor Services

If you’re looking for reliable, convenient electric motor preventive maintenance experts in California, you can call on the experts at IEC. We’ve been in the business of industrial electrical contracting and motor repair since 1935, so you can count on us for consistently excellent service. Whether that’s onsite at your facility or in-house at ours, we’ll help you make sure your electric motors are operating at peak performance. 

Contact us today to learn more about our preventive electric motor services.





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