Farms are among the harshest environments for electric motors to operate in, and even the most robust and most reliable motors will eventually wear out. By taking the time to understand why a motor fails, how to go about replacing a farm motor, and preventing future incidents, you will maximize the reliability of critical farm equipment and minimize operational downtime.
Diagnosing the Problem
Often, a motor reaches the end of its service life from regular use. Over long periods, dust, moisture, and other contaminants work their way into the bearings and windings of the motor, creating wear and corrosion, and causing the motor performance to deteriorate. Worse yet, the motor may experience catastrophic failures, such as burnout of the windings or failed bearings.
Whichever of these two scenarios occurs, it is useful to keep a record of the long-term history of the motor performance, and any maintenance or repairs. The motor regularly running hot suggests problems with power input or load characteristics, while vibration and noise indicate stress on the shaft, such as excessive belt tension. Recording the history of the motor can provide much-needed information that will help to prevent a similar failure from happening again.
Another reason to monitor the motor is to pinpoint opportunities for improvement when it is time to replace it. Older motors may be less power efficient, which drives up long-term costs. If the motor is having trouble handling the load, a bigger motor or one with better start-up torque characteristics may be an excellent investment for your farm. If you are using an Open Drip Proof (ODP) motor in a contaminated or moist environment, a totally-enclosed type motor will perform far better and last much longer.
Monitoring your motor for developing issues, and proactively selecting a motor that can handle your farm environment will go a long way toward reducing the total cost of ownership for your motor.
Consulting with an expert, such as an electrical contractor, will help ensure a proper diagnosis.
Ordering a Replacement Motor
When choosing a replacement motor, first look at the nameplate of the previous motor. This is where vital information about the motor and its performance characteristics can be found. Use the motor nameplate information to narrow your search quickly.
If you're ordering an identical replacement motor, providing the model or catalogue number of the motor is usually sufficient. However, if this information is not available, or finding an identical motor is impossible or undesirable, the motor’s technical details will tell your supplier what they need to know to find a motor that will fit right into your application. This includes performance information such as the speed and horsepower of the motor, the type of input power, and details about how the motor is mounted, including the frame type and how the motor is attached to the load.
Be sure to give details of what the motor is used for, and whether it’s a definite-purpose motor. There are many motors available that are designed to meet the unique challenges of specific types of applications, and these will perform far better than stock motors in those roles.
Motor manufacturers are continually improving their technology and releasing new motor models. Leverage the eMotors Direct smart search to find a replacement for an older model motor.
When your new motor arrives, it’s a great idea to match up the nameplate information to the previous one to double-check that it is the right one for the job. Confirm you have the right motor before installation and start-up. Most suppliers will not accept a return once the motor has been used or even installed for a short time.
Installing a Replacement Motor
When installing a replacement motor, here are some tips to ensure that the process is smooth and trouble-free.
- First, follow safety protocols and shut off power to the previous motor, either by unplugging it or locking out the power switch. Make sure power cannot be turned back on while the electricals are being worked on. Check the voltage at the motor to make sure that there is no risk of shock.
- Next, tag your wires and take photos of the motor wiring before disconnecting the previous motor. This will help ensure that the wiring is done the first time correctly, preventing mishaps from occurring with your brand new motor.
- Install the new motor, connecting wiring safely and adequately according to the directions provided by the manufacturer. Securely mount the motor frame, taking care to align the motor and correctly tension belts and pulleys. Fit all protective guards and covers, and check that circuit breakers, fuses and safety switches are all installed adequately before attempting to start the motor.
- When you start the motor for the first time, listen for vibrations and check the temperature. Vibration and noise suggest incorrect alignment or improper connection of the motor to the load. Heat or poor performance suggests issues with the input power to the motor, or excessive load. If something unexpected occurs, don’t ignore it. Find out what is causing it and fix it before your new motor gets damaged.
- Check the incoming voltage when starting and the current at no-load and full load, record these values for future reference as they will come in handy if any issues arise.
- Finally, do a full load test and visually make sure that the motor performs well before putting the motor to work and walking away.
Preventing Motor Failure
The best way to prevent premature motor failure is always to monitor the motor, the load, and the electrical systems for signs of problems. Incorrect application and operation of motors account for the majority of failures, and these are preventable. Look for heat, noise, vibration, and abnormal motor behaviour, which are all indications that the motor is not being operated within its designed specifications.
On farms, there are often long cable runs that may be accidentally exposed to damage from harsh environmental conditions, and it’s important to maintain the entire electrical network to make sure that motors and other electrical equipment are always receiving the correct voltage. Voltage drops can cause motor performance to suffer and create heat in the motor windings, leading to the motor’s early demise.
Replacing a motor doesn’t have to be an overwhelming task, as long as you know the steps to order a new one and safely install it, as well as how to monitor your system to prevent premature failures from happening again any time soon.
If you’re looking for a high-quality replacement motor, here at eMotors Direct we carry a range of the most popular and reputable brands of farm-duty motors on the market, available in many different sizes and configurations.
Get in touch with us today to quickly find a new motor and get your farm up and running again as soon as possible! Our expert team will help you find the right fit for your farm.