Over the last several years, building owners and industrial operators have quietly revolutionized their operations through the digitization of their facilities. “Smart” buildings and factories are becoming a reality, helping to boost efficiency and productivity. However, the increasingly integrated nature of these facilities has placed an even higher premium on operational resilience and modern service plans. If one critical component goes down, such as a motor control center or HVAC system, losses in productivity or facility uptime can cascade and have a dramatic impact on profitability. For example, Forbes reports that unplanned downtime costs industrial manufacturers as much as $50 billion a year.
In many cases, these facilities are highly dependent upon the uptime of electric motors that drive motion-driven infrastructure applications (like pumps, HVAC systems, fans, etc.). According to the market research firm Technavio, more than 300 million electric motors are used in infrastructure, large buildings, and industries across the globe.
Throughout key sites such as plants, hospitals, and data centers, operators are now thinking of ways to make sure they can head off unanticipated downtime before it happens. Such resilience-based strategies require the right combination of smart technology and comprehensive maintenance service plans in order to be effective.
VSD service plans emphasize predictability and uptime
One key technology that can simultaneously address the need for both higher motor uptime and services that provide operational resilience is the new generation of intelligent variable speed drives (VSDs). While the primary purpose of a VSD is to run a motor by controlling its speed, these drives provide much more than this one functionality.
Most VSDs are installed within a “chain” of other electromechanical devices (such as transformers, circuit breakers, and motors) or mechanical devices (gearbox, mechanical transmission) that together, form a “driveline.” VSDs minimize their own downtime, while also acting as smart “sensors” for the entire driveline (monitoring motor torque temperature, main voltage, and load energy consumption).
How it works:
- Application models embedded within the drive issue warnings when parts are likely to wear out and when warranties are about to expire
- The VSD collects data on all the key parameters affecting the driveline’s lifetime
- The drives can anticipate future outcomes for the chain elements that are predictable
Service partners that can automate maintenance support procedures are key
If left unattended, drives can run beyond the pre-defined load limits, which can drastically shorten the life of the drive and the connected motor. Some industries, such as Mining, Minerals and Metals even make it a standard practice to run drives beyond their recommended limits. In such environments, the ability to predict potential breakdown events becomes even more critical. In order to maximize the benefit of installed VSDs, many clients are requesting a professional level of technical support and maintenance services from drive manufacturers.
Companies like Schneider Electric are stepping forward to offer comprehensive maintenance and support packages that include remote technical support, inventory of spare parts, and on-site experts available within four hours if needed. Coverages can even include digital services that use tools such as EcoStruxure™ Asset Advisor, which enables Schneider Electric experts to remotely monitor key equipment performance.
Benefits of such packages include the availability of remote monitoring services that generate dashboards highlighting the behaviors of the various VSD -connected devices. (Alarms automatically get generated should a voltage level exceed a particular pre-determined threshold, for example.) This Integrated intelligence can:
- Improve asset performance and reliability
- Increase energy savings (according to US Department of Energy reports, VSDs can save up to 40% in energy consumption based on the application)
- Reduce maintenance costs
Additional benefits of VSD maintenance services
Organizations that choose to integrate maintenance services as part of their VSD solution also experience higher levels of customer satisfaction. In fact, Schneider Electric field studies have indicated that clients with VSD service contracts in place experience customer satisfaction ratings that are, on average, 20 points higher than those with no maintenance support plan. For many clients, the benefits of a VSD service plan include:
- Superior convenience
- Reliable identification of and response to potential equipment breakdown
- Overall peace of mind
Modern support agreements also now factor in an emphasis on increased circularity. When clients upgrade to a new VSD technology, reuse of the existing in-place technology is also an important factor. Part of the service plan can include the repurposing of older drives to lower-level applications while the new, modern drives are dedicated to the more critical applications.
Learn more about service plans and how they can benefit your organization.