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January 20, 2009 A Penton Media Publication Vol. V No. 2


CONTENTS
Maintaining for Energy Savings, Part 6

Electrical Troubleshooting Quiz

Bottleneck Motor Repairs, Part 2

NEC in the Facility

Safety

Answer to Electrical Troubleshooting Quiz


About This Newsletter
This twice-a-month
e-newsletter is brought to you from the publisher of EC&M magazine.

MRO Insider addresses topics such as:

  • Working with management and supervision
  • National Electrical Code® on the production floor
  • Safety procedures and programs
  • Troubleshooting techniques
  • Equipment maintenance and testing tips
  • Managing motors and generators
  • Trends in training and education
  • Managing energy use


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    Maintenance
    Maintaining for Energy Savings, Part 6
    Installing energy-efficient motors just makes sense. In many applications, it even makes sense to replace a “perfectly good” standard motor with an energy-efficient one. Unfortunately, the savings you enjoy during the first few months of operation may disappear early in the life of the motor. Why does this happen, and what can you do about it?

    A motor is energy-efficient because of how it’s constructed. When you no longer see the energy savings that justified purchasing that motor, it isn’t because the motor somehow lost its energy-efficient features. In fact, the cause of such a loss typically has nothing to do with the motor itself.

    How can you protect your energy savings? Start by ensuring your motor maintenance program addresses these issues:

    • Lubrication. Common errors include undergreasing, overgreasing, and using incompatible greases. Prevent the first two errors by using the upper and lower motor lubrication ports as intended by the manufacturer. Prevent grease incompatibly by identifying the correct grease for each motor and not deviating from that. Tip: It’s the grease base that matters, not the color.
    • Alignment. One of the several effects of misalignment is heavy side-loading, which stresses motor bearings. With enough stress, the bearings become distorted (or lose material), causing vibration. Vibration is movement, so you’re paying for electricity to move the shaft in ways that don’t contribute to the desired rotation.
    • Mounting. Your PMs should call for inspection of the base and pedestal. A crack in the pedestal can result in vibration. A distortion in the base can produce misalignment. Many problems arising from mounting deficiencies are invisible except during a particular point in motor operation (e.g., during startup).
    We tend to think of motors as electrical devices, but notice that the three issues mentioned above aren’t electrical. Even so, addressing them in your maintenance program can profoundly affect how much electricity you save — or not.

    Other areas of motor maintenance also affect how energy-efficient your motor systems are. We’ll examine those in our next issue.


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    Repair
    Electrical Troubleshooting Quiz
    Your company recently replaced 63 standard motors with energy-efficient ones as part of its green program. Since the replacement, however, you’ve been plagued with a sharp increase in overload trips and motor failures. Production people want you to reinstall the old motors. Is the problem really those motors, or could it be something else? How can you find out?

    The answer to this question appears at the end of this newsletter.


    Bottleneck Motor Repairs, Part 2
    You can dramatically reduce production output loss by focusing on motors from a bottleneck perspective. One step in doing that is to chart out production flow. Look for any kind of bottleneck, such as a downstream conveyor that handles the output of multiple upstream production lines.

    You’ll also need to identify which motors support bottleneck production equipment. For example, if you have pneumatic equipment at bottleneck points, then your plant air-system motors are also bottleneck equipment. Process water and process chillers are two other examples.

    Calculate how much bottleneck downtime each motor contributes. You can correctly set priorities when you use these calculations to allocate your resources for reducing repairs. We’ll talk about what those resources are in our next issue.


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    Operation
    NEC in the Facility
    Lighting in a Class I, Division 1 location (flammable gases, vapors, or liquids) must meet special requirements. For example, you can’t use multiwire branch circuits in a Class I, Division 1 location unless the disconnect for the circuit opens all ungrounded conductors simultaneously [501.40].

    Before you install a luminaire in such a location, ensure it’s identified as a complete assembly for Class I, Division 1 locations [501.130(A)(1)].

    What about Class 1, Division 2 locations? A luminaire installed in such a location must meet some very stringent conditions, or it must conform to the requirements for a Class I, Division 1 location [501.130(B)(1)]. The conditions are almost impossible for the typical person in the field to meet with any certainty, so generally you’re better off installing the luminaire per the requirements for Class I, Division 1.


    Safety
    Does your employee safety handbook contain a list of “don’t do” rules that grows with every revision? If so, your organization has a dysfunctional safety culture. No handbook can cover every possible unsafe act. Playing a game of “what might people do wrong” almost always produces losers. Instead, challenge everyone to ask, “What must I do to be safe?”

    Everyone needs to understand that an act isn’t safe just because there’s no written (or verbal) rule against it.

    Many people take safety shortcuts in an effort to be more efficient. But analysis of job data over many decades has shown conclusively that overall efficiency and safety move up or down together. If you optimize safety, you optimize overall efficiency. Avoid falling into the trap of seeing what you can get away with.


    Quiz Answer
    Answer to Electrical Troubleshooting Quiz
    Your new motors have higher inrush current than the standard motors they replaced, thus the new problem of tripped overloads. The solution may be a different overload or an adjustment to the motor drive (e.g., softer start).

    The motor failure issue indicates another kind of problem. An important clue is the sheer number of replacements in this single project. That was a big job, possibly involving “not quite qualified” personnel. Therefore, suspect incorrect installation techniques and related deficiencies.

    One of the most common problems in “high failure” motor installations is the motors are grounded (connected to earth), rather than bonded (connected to metal). Check each motor system for compliance with Art. 250, Part V.

    As motors trip or fail, take alignment data and look for mounting errors before removing or adjusting anything. Send each failed motor to a motor repair shop for an autopsy. A failure mode pattern will emerge. Bearing damage will point you in one direction, winding damage in another. To go beyond being merely pointed in the right direction, ask the motor manufacturer’s tech support to analyze the findings and make recommendations.


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