Wednesday, July 24

Electrical Preventative Maintenance, Foundations of Best Practice Motor Management

As a young engineer I was very fortunate to have a very supportive CEO of a multi site manufacturing business.

At that time a program of Operational & Maintenance excellence was born.

A focus on Planning, Quality, Reliability, and Communication were core to continuous improvement. We had a lot too learn, but were keen.


Building a Strong Foundation: The Evolution of Electrical Preventative Maintenance


It was the 1990’s and Vibration Analysis was just becoming mainstream, at the time this was new to me and I started to research as much as possible.

Our first site in Australia the initial survey yielded 12% of assets showing some type of defect electrical issues weren’t known at that time. So nearly all the analysis showed mechanical defects being Bearings, Taper locks, Belts, Alignment, balancing to name a few.

This gave us a great start!

As time went on the New Work Order system which initially was on a spreadsheet showed Mechanical issues were making progress, but the Electrical side was nearly all reactive, with very little or none preventative type activities.

Looking at our also New Downtime recording system (mostly manual) this also showed breakdowns of electrical nature out numbered Mechanical but nearly all predictive technologies were Mechanical based and still is today.

When I looked at the Overtime & Call Outs this also skewed dramatically to the electrical issues by nature. Our Culture was very much a reactive “Fix it fast” focused but maybe not for good (The root cause).

Time spent in the maintenance workshop saw pallets of failed Motors, or motors scheduled for time based overhaul. Every week a new one seemed to be added to the queue. At that time I wasn’t even looking at drive failures maybe I was blinded with the issues.


Empowering Reliability: Unveiling Key Insights from Decades of Motor Management Experience

With Electric Motors on my mind (Actually it never left my mind) I researched what could be done. I sort the help of a predictive maintenance technology companies and we tried multiple different instruments. As at the time I wasn’t licensed for electrical work so was banished to the Motor Store, hopefully where I could do no harm.

After spending quite a lot of cold morning starts and day’s of testing I got one electrician what I now call a “Natural Leader” came for a look but didn’t stay long. As you might say I didn’t have much support, but determined to Lead from the front.

I remember condemning 35% of the sites spare motors that went into the recycle skip, I really don’t know why electricians hoard busted stuff, but I did know of Motors being replaced after a failure in the plant only to find they didn’t last long or failed to start.

Fast forward quite a lot I implemented Reliability Teams at each site, taking the now learnt Natural Leaders and got them to focus on Downtime and the repeat issues, and certainly Motors were high on the list. This new type of role meant these technicians weren’t fixing breakdowns which caused some very heated discussions.

Our first Data of Electrical Testing with Motor Circuit Analysis showed 8% of Assets had defects remember this was 1990’s so drives where just becoming common. Today those first initial survey data shows 21% or 1 in 5 motor circuits.

Recent data collected show 37% of Motors in Industry are on Variable Frequency Drives but account for 82% of Winding defects.

That initial survey on a site with 1350 motors above 15kW resulted in finding a high number of resistive defects which were rectified as testing progressed, and a second round of the survey almost eliminated motor defects. The failure rate of motors dropped 95% + and this is the same strategy we see today.

A number of changes were made to stop Drive End Bearing failure using cheap, easily installed shaft seals, and grease depletion was addressed with Polyurea grease filled sealed bearings.

We were making quite good improvements and the downtime certainly had improved with the help of other parties in our Operational & Maintenance excellence program.

A changing moment occurred when I and one of our electrical engineer’s attended a public course in Sydney, Australia. That’s was when I met Howard Penrose, big imposing American but knows his stuff and straight away I knew I had to learn from this gentleman.

We were finding Overhauled & New Motor Purchases were causing headaches so I engaged Howard to peer review an improvement project of our Reliability Teams. That improvement project worked closely with our preferred Overhaul workshop and two specifications were born an Overhaul Specification and a New Motor Purchase Specification addressing reliability issues, as previously price was the dominating factor in our commercial department eyes.

We started Acceptance Testing Motors and the reject rate was surprising, and we didn’t start on a good footing with our preferred supplier also with a heated phone call. After the dust had settled that motor vendor started testing motors for us and the reject rate dropped. I made a good business relationship with Dimitry a motor expert from who I learnt a lot.

Fast forward to today and I’m based in France implementing Best Practice Motor Management applying the learning’s of decades of experience.

Unfortunately electrical preventative maintenance still lags mechanical generally in industry and remains a large contributor to downtime.

I get the feeling because Electricity can’t be seen it’s out of mind and you can’t do much, this is very much a myth. I find even the skill s of terminating a motor aren’t taught well at a trades level. I recently asked a newly qualified electrician who taught you to fit a motor, he said you are the first.

He said it wasn’t covered in trade shool and I was Shocked.

I wish to raise the topic of Energy efficiency, Electric Motors consume the majority of energy in industry, some plants more than 80%. Learning to terminate a motor correctly gives you immediate energy savings and improved reliability. Motor winding a highly stressed when an unbalance voltage is supplied and this affects reliability.

Energy has become a hot topic and through EASA who I’m a member a push to energy efficiency practices are being developed. Hopefully our EU colleagues can take note and support as I firmly believe industry need help to become energy efficient not by increasing prices but providing skill transfer.

It’s Our Energy!!


Best Practice Motor Management Successes

This article outlines the foundations of Best Practice Motor Management successes and shows the use of Data, Addressing real Failure Modes, and Listening to Trades is essential but the reliability drive can’t succeed without CEO & Executive support as it requires a multi function approach. Having a argument with commercial department may very well stall you progress, or your enterprise agreement with trade unions may not support a reliability focus this is when you need their support. I know this because I’ve made the mistakes and suffered setbacks.

Breaking this reactive cycle of chasing breakdowns reinforces a culture of Maintenance Superman which is exactly what is needed to be tapered.

Trades need to aspire from being Reactive Hero’s to becoming Reliability King’s, this promotes less stress and better operations. In return Training & Reliability focus must be provided bringing your natural leaders forward and turning the fence sitters who wait for the lead.

One example of this was an organized Tour for this group to Sirf RT Maintenance excellence company winners.

We took a bus full of our group to:

Qantas where a CASA certified Engineer addressed the group, followed by a tour of a 737 refit, and visit to their jet Engine testing cell

International Power winner of the Maintenance excellence where the CEO addressed the group.

Mars who’s Maintenance store and lubrication were World class.

Cultivating a Culture of Excellence: Strategies for Successful Motor Management Implementation

This tour helped cement a Reliability culture while ours not perfect was improving continuously.

It’s all about culture and many of your personnel may have never seen what can be achieved, I recommend visiting World Class Enterprises.

A natural leader being exposed to a new reliability initiative can make it their own, and this creates ownership.

Let you Natural Leaders Shine, it will be the best money you ever will invest.

It’s all about Culture!

Now I can immediately feel culture in Maintenance shops, see the pitfalls and the struggles that’s is why I helped write the content of a well known ISO Certified Reliability Course.

Breaking that reactive, resource sapping loop of Assets determining what people do isn’t rocket science, it just takes a focused effort and executive support.

Best Practice Motor Management has evolved over decades of learning’s and has proven strategies that get immediate results and will adapt to the newest technologies.