The motor is one of the single most important components that is found within nearly all factory manufacturing equipment. When a motor fails, it’s safe to bet that your equipment won’t be functioning either. Repairing and replacing motors can oftentimes be a costly exercise in time and money. Fortunately, with the correct preventative maintenance you can catch issues long before they become real problems.

The following 5 points to check on your motor can help you steer clear of a lot of headaches:

Lubrication
Motors need lubrication to reduce friction, but many plant managers seems to forget that too much lubricant can create problems of it’s own. The excess lubricant can oftentimes get into other parts of the motor or in some cases into the machine itself. The result is slippage and a collection dust in grime in the motor windings. In some machines this could lead to gunk getting on your product. This is particularly important if you are in food manufacturing, as this could lead to very serious contamination issues.

Bearings
Bearings simply must be able to move within the housing. This is impossible if there is dirt or debris inside hindering the process. During your maintenance check inspect not only the bearings, but also their housing for anything other than a thin film of lubricant.

Belts
Belts are another feature that can cause damage to the motor if not properly inspected. The belt should be tightened with the amount of slack recommended by the equipment manufacturer. Electrical Construction & Maintenance (EC&M) magazine suggests a one inch slack for the belt. This prevents breakage from tension and too much slack. EC&M also suggest inspecting the alignment of the components that the belt attaches to. Misalignment can cause unnecessary tension in the belt which can cause the belt to snap.

Temperature
Excess heat around a motor means friction where there shouldn’t be. Check for lubrication and belt tension. If you are finding that you have a motor that tends to overheat it should be inspected before it causes additional problems in other parts of the machine. Paying close attention to your temperature gauges can help you head off serious problems.

Debris in the Motor
Nothing “gums up the works” in a motor better than debris. Simple dust and dirt can cause the motor to run slower, add friction, and lead to excess wear in components like the belts and bearing housing. Keep the equipment clean to avoid debris buildup and subsequent problems. Be sure to inspect the pulleys, brushes, and commutators on DC motors.

When going through your preventive maintenance schedule, pay extra attention to the motor that powers your machinery. They are the vital parts that fuel the production that can oft get overlooked in the hustle and bustle of a busy factory. When the motor stops, so does production.

Additional Resources

Pacific Gas & Energy. – Efficiency Opportunities through Motor Maintenance.

Electrical Construction & Maintenance. – Preventive Maintenance for Motor Survival.