How likely are you to experience unplanned downtime due to a motor failure? What is the true cost of unplanned downtime in manufacturing? How can you get more done during planned downtime vs unplanned downtime? How can we reduce unplanned downtime altogether? What’s the best way to manage your motor spares? We’ll answer these questions and more, below.
With this 23 step guide, you’ll be empowered to customize a preventative maintenance and motor asset management plan for your team and ultimately decrease unplanned downtime in your manufacturing plant.
This particular guide is geared towards how your motors impact unplanned downtime.
- Do you have a list of when all your items were installed and how long they have been running for?
- Do you have a catalogue of all your motors/pumps/controls/gear reducers?
- Do you have an image catalogue of each motor and motor nameplate?
- Are all your items tagged with # plates and referenced back to the catalogue?
- Have you identified which motors are unique and which are not off the shelf?
- Do you have spares or a contingency plan for your crucial motors?
- Do you have a preventive maintenance plan?
- Do you have a greasing schedule?
- Do you perform quarterly vibration testing?
- Do you perform any thermal imaging throughout the year?
- Do you have any modular style reducers that require that brand of motor?
- Do you prefer one brand of motor over another?
- Do you have a preferred control brand?
- What voltages are you running, 575V or 460V?
- Do you have any motors that are constantly washed down with pressure or cleaning solutions?
- Do you have a regularly scheduled shutdown to perform preventive maintenance?
- Have you gone through and standardized your motors in an effort to reduce overall spares?
- Are there motors in your inventory that are obsolete or from equipment that you don't use any longer?
- How many hours per day does your plant run? (i.e. 24hrs/day, 8hrs/day, etc.) Was your plant designed to run this duration?
- How many gear reducers do you use? Are they generally shaft mount? Or solid shaft coupled to the load through a belt/chain/coupler?
- Have you ever looked at an efficiency payback calculator for your electric motors?
- How many of each do you have in operation? (¼ HP – 10 HP, 15 HP – 50 HP, 60 HP – 100 HP, 125 HP & over)
- When do you usually take a motor out of operation for repair or replacement? After breakdown or are issues identified and taken out before the breakdown?
What is Unplanned Downtime?
Unplanned downtime is the archenemy of maintenance managers. When equipment or a process fails unexpectedly, this is called ‘unplanned downtime’. Most manufacturing plants have a production quota to hit, and they can’t achieve that if the line is down.
Planned downtime is where maintenance managers shine. This is planned maintenance on equipment which is proactively factored into production quotas. Depending on the plant, planned downtime can occur quarterly, monthly, weekly, or even daily. Some plants schedule a full shut down every few years so that damaged or deteriorated parts can be completely replaced or repaired.
What is the Cost of Unplanned Downtime?
Unplanned downtime has direct and indirect costs. Some of our customers estimate each day of downtime can equate to hundreds of thousands of dollars. But how do they come to this number? They combine the direct and indirect costs of unplanned downtime.
- Direct Costs: This typically refers to the costs of getting the line back up and running. The cost of repair, replacements, and the associated labour. These costs are usually more obvious than indirect costs.
- Indirect Costs: This typically refers to the ripple effects of unplanned downtime.
- Loss of productivity: because the line is down, staff down the line are unable to get their jobs down. You’re paying them to be there, but they’re not as productive as you need them to be. Those staff salaries are an indirect cost of unplanned downtime.
- Missed customer deadlines: Missing a deadline with a customer can lead to customer dissatisfaction. If you’re working in a competitive market, you could lose the customer all together. Losing a purchase order from the customer is an indirect cost of downtime. Missing deadlines may also affect your company's brand and may limit your ability to secure new client contracts.
- Spoiled products: In food manufacturing, it’s common to work with food products that could spoil if left in room temperature for too long. If your conveyor motor stops working, food could easily spoil during unplanned downtime.
How to Reduce Unplanned Downtime
Knowing how expensive it can be, how do you reduce the risk of unplanned downtime? How prepared are you? Below is our 23-point guide to help you prevent and prepare for unplanned downtime.
One: Do you have a list of when all your items were installed and how long they have been running for?
When you don't have information like the installation dates and catalogue numbers for your electric motors, you can be easily blindsided by a breakdown. And you may end up paying more for maintenance and downtime.
One of the key factors in determining your motors life span is the bearings and how long they can run before failure occurs. Knowing how long they have been running for, creating an appropriate greasing schedule (if needed), and having the appropriate spares on hand will help save you money and time in the long run.
Leverage our free motor management spreadsheetto keep track of your motor inventory and spare requirements. There is a lot of information to collect. At the minimum, we recommend keeping a log of all motors location and keeping a log of all nameplate pictures for easy reference.
Knowing exactly where your spare motor’s located is crucial when downtime hits. Within a large manufacturing plant, there can be hundreds of spare parts to sort through. Using location tags, keep track of what you have installed and in spare inventory. Ideally, map out which spares can be used for each crucial piece of equipment.
Why have pictures? When transferring information from your motor's nameplate (#s and letters from ratings) to your records, information can easily be misinterpreted or incorrectly recorded. Pictures can tell the whole story, especially when you get images of both the nameplate and the entire setup. Not all necessary information is provided on the nameplate, like flanges or specialty shafts.
Pictures are also helpful when there is staff turnover. Information can be more easily understood, tracked, and transferred. Leverage our free motor inventory management spreadsheetto keep track of your motor inventory and spare requirements.
A motor asset naming system can help you more quickly identify and reference the different pieces of equipment in your operation, particularly when you have multiple pieces of equipment and numerous staff members. Once you have a naming system in place, you'll be able to communicate with your motor distributor more clearly.
While some motors are off-the-shelf, some are special order and can take upwards of 28 weeks to manufacture. Knowing which motors have longer delivery times can help you save on downtime when a replacement is needed.
It's time to identify what spares are best to have on hand. It's not financially feasible nor necessary to have a spare for every single motor in your facility. However, you'll need spares for specific motors, depending on how much downtime you can afford. Though rewind shops can rewind or repair your motor if needed, after-hours work is costly. Having a spare in place will save you from this cost.
Standardizing the size of the motors in your fleet can help to reduce the number of spares you need on hand. In some cases, a slightly oversized motor can be used to keep a line up and running, while you wait for the replacement motor to arrive. Proceed with caution and ensure the oversized motor won’t impact other equipment on the production line.
Putting a preventive maintenance plan in place will extend your motors' life and any related equipment and help you develop a spares/contingency plan for motors that you know are on their way out.
Check out our motor preventative maintenance checklist here.
Your electric motor bearings are one of the main components in deciding your motor's true lifespan. Each type of bearing has manufacturer greasing recommendations based on the application, including how often to lubricate, lubrication type, and amount. Over-greasing, under-greasing, or using the wrong kind of product can significantly impact your motor's operation.
Completing quarterly vibration testing can help you catch a failing component before the whole system fails. Giving you a chance to perform maintenance during an optimal time rather than after a breakdown.
Thermal imaging allows you to see if your motor is running outside optimal temperatures, allowing you to perform preventive maintenance before a breakdown occurs.
Eleven: Do you have any modular style reducers that require that brand of motor (Browning/Nord/SEW Eurodrive)?
Did you know that these motor and reducer units are OEM replacements only? These particular units require you to have high-priority spares in place as delivery times are longer.
A better long-term solution that will save you money is to switch to a motor with a C-flange input; this provides you with less risk, more scalability, and is more cost-effective.
There is a benefit to having a standardization of brands and motor sizes. You will have fewer spares and spare parts on hand, so you will have less funds tied up in inventory and more space in your warehouse. It will also be easier for employees to keep track of the spares and which motors go with which equipment.
There is a benefit to standardizing your VFDs as each brand is programmed slightly differently. You will save time and money on education and software when your staff needs to learn only one brand.
- If 575V: 575V can be less popular, and spares may not be as readily available as in 460V. You may need to have more spares on hand to avoid extended downtime when searching for a replacement motor.
- If 460V: these are easier to find in Canada.
- If you run both: Running two different voltages in the same location/building can be confusing for maintenance and purchasing staff. Having two sets of spares for motors and controls can be costly, and it is easy to overlook items that should be stocked as spares. All effort should be made to pick a singular voltage and convert to that.
Fifteen: Do you have any motors that are constantly washed down with pressure or cleaning solutions? Or running in severe conditions (such as extreme cold or heat, near dangerous materials, or running constantly)?
Choosing the correct motor enclosure is just as important when selecting a motor as the HP and torque ratings. The smallest amount of water reaching your motor's internals can be catastrophic and selecting the cheapest option won't give you a motor capable of performing optimally in severe-duty conditions. While matching the motor enclosure to the application may be a higher initial cost, you'll save on maintenance and replacements in the long run. Read this article from our Knowledge Centre for more information on enclosures.
Learn more about washdown motors here.
Learn more above severe duty motors here.
It's impossible to complete all of the necessary preventive maintenance checks, tests, and tasks when your machinery is in operation. Belts need to be inspected and adjusted, gearboxes checked for lubrication levels and running temperature, conveyors inspected for seized rollers and worn components, etc. With equipment shut down and operating staff off the floor, maintenance staff can easily do their checks and perform maintenance tasks that improve your equipment's lifespan.
Seventeen: Have you gone through and standardized your motors in an effort to reduce overall spares?
Standardizing your motor inventory by the brand can reduce the number of spares you need on hand, but standardizing HP rating can help you even further. If you have multiple motors at ½HP, ¾HP, and 1HP, you can standardize to one standard HP capable of all applications. Helping to reduce the overall number of spares that you need on hand.
Eighteen: Are there motors in your inventory that are obsolete or from equipment that you don't use any longer?
Obsolete motors take up space in your warehouse and can confuse your team into installing the incorrect motor, causing unnecessary downtime. There is no need to keep these motors; getting rid of them can free up budget used for inventory and space in your warehouse.
Nineteen: How many hours per day does your plant run? (i.e. 24hrs/day, 8hrs/day, etc.) Was your plant designed to run this duration?
Did you know that electric motors are designed for continuous use, but the related components may not be? The longer your gear reducer runs, the less it can dissipate heat. By having the appropriately rated gear reducers in place, you're ensuring a long and efficient life for your equipment.
If you have recently upgraded your plant to produce more and run additional shifts, you need to double-check your gear reducers' ratings. The original equipment when your plant was set up may only be able to handle 8 hours a day; you will need to upgrade your gear reducers with a higher service factor or have spares on hand for when the legacy reducers inevitably fail.
Twenty: How many gear reducers do you use? Are they generally shaft mount? Or solid shaft coupled to the load through a belt/chain/coupler?
What type of service factorare your gear reducers rated for? Gear reducers come with a service factor rating, a performance safety margin for the ratio between the gear reducer's HP rating and the HP required for the application. Ensuring you have the appropriately rated gear reducers in place will help you avoid downtime due to additional maintenance and failures.
Electric motors consume an estimated 39% of the total energy used by industry. The purchase price of your motors is only 2% of the entire lifetime operating costs, with a whopping 97.3% going to energy consumption alone. When you see these numbers, it's evident that even a slight improvement in energy efficiency can make a massively positive impact on your bottom line.
New, more efficient motors are being designed and released regularly, offering many options for upgrading your motors. Meaning that it's often much more cost-effective in the long run to replace your electric motor with a premium efficient model rather than rewind your old standard efficient motor. Selecting a motor that meets or exceeds the NEMA Premium® efficiency ratings can bring you an improved energy efficiency of 2-8%.
An efficiency payback calculator will tell you the amount of time it takes for the energy savings to equal and exceed the cost of a brand new super-premium efficient motor. This efficiency payback calculator is a free option that is easy to use and will also recommend efficient motor models for your operation.
Twenty-two: How many of each do you have in operation? (¼ HP – 10 HP, 15 HP – 50 HP, 60 HP – 100 HP, 125 HP & over)
By understanding your motor inventory, you can be more proactive with your replacement motor inventory.
Twenty-three: When do you usually take a motor out of operation for repair or replacement? After breakdown or are issues identified and taken out before the breakdown?
Having a preventive maintenance plan/schedule in place will help your maintenance staff identify issues before they become major problems. Allowing them to schedule downtime for maintenance at an optimal time rather than bringing your operations to a halt due to an unexpected failure.