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Five Signs You’re Due for Electric Motor Services

Ward Leonard

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The global AC electric motor sales in the oil & gas market is expected to reach USD 13.2 billion by 2023 – which comes as no surprise as the industry relies on them for efficient and competitive throughput. With these numbers in mind, understanding how to extend a motor’s lifespan can yield significant savings. More important, though, is preventing the potentially huge losses that come with premature motor or pump failure and subsequent downtime. When it comes to maximizing productivity and profit, the time to understand the five signs electric motor services are needed is before you actually need them. Let’s take a closer look:

1.) Vibration

Vibration can be a sign that something is significantly wrong with a motor. It can be caused by worn bearings, broken internal parts, misaligned gear teeth, corrosion, poor power supply, misalignment, soft foot, as well as several other issues all of which can lead to motor failure. Figuring out where the problem lies isn’t always obvious; having a vibration analysis performed is the most efficient way to pinpoint the problem. By monitoring the levels and patterns of vibrations within your motor, vibration analysis can detect what’s abnormal and which components will need to be serviced.

In pumps, vibration can indicate shaft misalignment, cavitation, pump flow pulsation, a bent pump shaft, or bearing problems. The operational forces generated by operating speed, system heads, and piping arrangements can cause resonate vibration, which may originate from either components or the operating conditions. Either reduces the expected life of bearings and other internal components; if vibration is observed, vibration analysis can indicate how best to mitigate the vibration below OEM operational tolerances.

2.) Contamination

Environmental contamination of wound components greatly reduces a motors life-cycle. Moisture, dirt and debris that enters the motor can create faults in the insulation system. Dirt residue, and moisture on motor housings or openings are a sign of contamination that can eventually cause problems if it makes its way inside. Environmental contamination can cause damage to vulnerable parts like bearings, seals, and cooling systems. Moisture is one of the leading causes of winding failures. Ingress into a motor can be as simple as condensation buildup through daily heat cycles of the surrounding environment. Ensuring your heaters are properly functioning is one of the critical steps to ensuring longevity of your motors. For pumps, any structural problems with housings are serious; leaking mechanical seals can lead to problems with quenching systems, cooling, and flushing. If there is visible debris or damage to housings, it signifies it’s time to contact an electric motor services provider for an inspection and cleaning before larger problems arise.

3.) Excessive Heat/Burning

Overheating has been found to be a main reason for insulation failure in motors. This can be the result of several factors: poor power quality, high environmental temperature, a loose or burnt connection within the motor, overloading, or insufficient cooling airflow or airway blockage. Whatever the reason, overheating a motor above its operational tolerances severely reduces the life-cycle of your critical motors. If the housings surrounding the motor or surrounding air temperature is hotter than usual, or if you see signs of burning, this indicates that the equipment is on its way to overheating and needs evaluation immediately.

Quick Tip: For every ten additional degrees centigrade, insulation life is cut in half. If this is the case, consult your motor repair center for analysis and next steps.

4.) Decreased Performance

Decreased performance hinders productivity and profit as it is, but it also indicates there is an underlying issue within your equipment that may worsen over time. As electric motors and pumps age, internal components begin to wear, affecting machine efficiency.  For motors, measuring torque and voltage curves can offer insight into performance level and subsequently the diagnostics that follow, which often point to the usual suspects: poor power quality, rotor failures, winding connections/failures and mechanical overload. Decreased efficiency is also a sign that a motor needs to be reconditioned, which will return your motors to OEM operational tolerances; be sure your electric motor services team includes motor experts for proper assessment.

Quick Tip: According to the U.S. Department of Energy, a pump’s efficiency can degrade as much as 10% to 25% before it is replaced, and efficiencies of 50% to 60% or lower are quite common. These inefficiencies are not always obvious; bringing in industrial pump repair services can help uncover components that need repair or replacement, optimizing energy savings along the way.


Partner with the Professionals

There’s a reason why Ward Leonard is one of the most trusted names in electric motor services and equipment in the oil and gas, heavy industry, and military markets. We are the only company of our kind to offer comprehensive motor, generator, pump, drive and control system solutions—including equipment, maintenance and repair, motor recondition/rewinding services, and storage solutions—with the industry’s brightest minds behind our operations. We have completed over 25,000 motor, generator & industrial pump repair service projects, and have 24/7 field service availability worldwide. With comprehensive testing, including dynamic balancing, vibration analysis, and real-time live testing, robust predictive and preventative maintenance programs, and cutting-edge products and replacement parts, we pride ourselves on providing clients with tangible value they can rely on.


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