Why online motor testing is a great PdM tool

Although offline or static testing is an important part of a routine maintenance program, dynamic testing of motors can be done more frequently and, in many cases, with greater benefit.


Although offline or static testing is an important part of a routine maintenance program, dynamic testing of motors can be done more frequently and, in many cases, with greater benefit.When properly installed in the correct application, electrical motors fill a particular need. If well cared for, they can operate safely and economically for many years. In fact, they were designed to work indefinitely. However, in most cases issues are going to occur that need to be addressed. After all, the motors may operate in a facility that subjects it to any number of different environmental or operational problems. This could place stress on the motor and potentially result in motor failure.

When the electrical systems fail at a place of business, regardless of whether it is a motor failure or a power failure, it can result in unexpected losses. Those losses can be felt financially, as well as through the level of production. The problems are more likely considered when the failure occurs unexpectedly which is why it is so important to have a preventative maintenance program in place.

A preventative maintenance program can test the motors at a facility to determine if they are operating within acceptable limits. In many cases, the testing of the equipment will determine if problems do exist even before they become apparent with a visual inspection. A maintenance program should not be thought of as a system to diagnose the problem after it takes place. It should be an ongoing process to reduce the likelihood of a catastrophic failure along the way.

Although there are several ways to test industrial motors, one of the better options to consider is online motor testing. There may be a need for periodic off-line motor testing, but online or dynamic testing typically yields the most benefit with a preventative maintenance program. This type of testing is done while the motor is operating within its normal environment at standard loads. It provides a variety of information including the existence of undesirable conditions such as imbalance, high or low voltage levels, and distortion.

The biggest benefit of online motor testing is watching how the test is performed. Since the motor does not need to be taken out of service to be tested, it is a nonintrusive type of test. It can typically be done without any interruption in productivity, and depending upon the kind of test that is done, it can be done quickly. This type of data collection is also safe with some of it even being performed without coming into contact with the motor itself.

Online motor testing can not only determine if there are any electrical problems with the motor, but it can also test a variety of other issues within the system as well. This includes any misalignment, vibration, or problems with the bearings.

Although offline or static testing is an important part of a routine maintenance program, dynamic testing of motors can be done more frequently and, in many cases, with greater benefit. 

-David Manney is a marketing administrator at L&S Electric. This article originally appeared on the L&S Watts New blog. L&S Electric is a CFE Media content partner.

Top Plant
The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America.
Product of the Year
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
System Integrator of the Year
Each year, a panel of Control Engineering and Plant Engineering editors and industry expert judges select the System Integrator of the Year Award winners in three categories.
October 2018
Tools vs. sensors, functional safety, compressor rental, an operational network of maintenance and safety
September 2018
2018 Engineering Leaders under 40, Women in Engineering, Six ways to reduce waste in manufacturing, and Four robot implementation challenges.
GAMS preview, 2018 Mid-Year Report, EAM and Safety
October 2018
2018 Product of the Year; Subsurface data methodologies; Digital twins; Well lifecycle data
August 2018
SCADA standardization, capital expenditures, data-driven drilling and execution
June 2018
Machine learning, produced water benefits, programming cavity pumps
Spring 2018
Burners for heat-treating furnaces, CHP, dryers, gas humidification, and more
October 2018
Complex upgrades for system integrators; Process control safety and compliance
September 2018
Effective process analytics; Four reasons why LTE networks are not IIoT ready

Annual Salary Survey

After two years of economic concerns, manufacturing leaders once again have homed in on the single biggest issue facing their operations:

It's the workers—or more specifically, the lack of workers.

The 2017 Plant Engineering Salary Survey looks at not just what plant managers make, but what they think. As they look across their plants today, plant managers say they don’t have the operational depth to take on the new technologies and new challenges of global manufacturing.

Read more: 2017 Salary Survey

The Maintenance and Reliability Coach's blog
Maintenance and reliability tips and best practices from the maintenance and reliability coaches at Allied Reliability Group.
One Voice for Manufacturing
The One Voice for Manufacturing blog reports on federal public policy issues impacting the manufacturing sector. One Voice is a joint effort by the National Tooling and Machining...
The Maintenance and Reliability Professionals Blog
The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals an organization devoted...
Machine Safety
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
Research Analyst Blog
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
Marshall on Maintenance
Maintenance is not optional in manufacturing. It’s a profit center, driving productivity and uptime while reducing overall repair costs.
Lachance on CMMS
The Lachance on CMMS blog is about current maintenance topics. Blogger Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.
Material Handling
This digital report explains how everything from conveyors and robots to automatic picking systems and digital orders have evolved to keep pace with the speed of change in the supply chain.
Electrical Safety Update
This digital report explains how plant engineers need to take greater care when it comes to electrical safety incidents on the plant floor.
IIoT: Machines, Equipment, & Asset Management
Articles in this digital report highlight technologies that enable Industrial Internet of Things, IIoT-related products and strategies.
Randy Steele
Maintenance Manager; California Oils Corp.
Matthew J. Woo, PE, RCDD, LEED AP BD+C
Associate, Electrical Engineering; Wood Harbinger
Randy Oliver
Control Systems Engineer; Robert Bosch Corp.
Data Centers: Impacts of Climate and Cooling Technology
This course focuses on climate analysis, appropriateness of cooling system selection, and combining cooling systems.
Safety First: Arc Flash 101
This course will help identify and reveal electrical hazards and identify the solutions to implementing and maintaining a safe work environment.
Critical Power: Hospital Electrical Systems
This course explains how maintaining power and communication systems through emergency power-generation systems is critical.
Design of Safe and Reliable Hydraulic Systems for Subsea Applications
This eGuide explains how the operation of hydraulic systems for subsea applications requires the user to consider additional aspects because of the unique conditions that apply to the setting
click me