Motor Management for Energy Efficiency: 3 Enablers to Reduce Costs and Boost Asset Uptime

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On average, electric motors consume approximately 60% of the electricity produced to support manufacturing industries, for heavy industries this number ramps to 90%. Yet, oftentimes modern energy management principles are not applied to help reduce consumption. Across manufacturing industries, electric motors play a crucial role in driving critical infrastructure assets such as conveyor belts, pumps, compressors, agitators, fans, and others. But despite their key operational role, traditional motor management approaches often fail to optimize performance. In some cases, piecemeal support approaches are used that only focus on the individual motors themselves, rather than taking a more integrated, holistic view. In other cases, motor maintenance is reactive. Only after instances of downtime occur are resources then marshaled to address the issue and the subsequent downstream delays are costly.

Today’s plant operators are challenged to better control motor energy costs while maintaining operational resilience. From plant stoppages, damage to equipment, and risk to people or even the environment, motor failure can be quite expensive.

Having one strategy that integrates motor control and protection solutions can help plants simultaneously reduce costs while increasing production. Robust connection and communication between the motor and the automation systems play an important role in minimizing instances of motor failure. In addition, overall energy costs are reduced when energy data from motors is monitored so that function can be better aligned to workload.

Key enablers for migrating to advanced motor management

Implementing a more holistic motor management strategy requires careful planning and the right combination of technologies. Traditionally, most companies have failed to pursue the integration of motor control, automation, and energy systems because of the perceived technical complexities. Fortunately, thanks to technology breakthroughs and new trends such as digitization and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), advanced connectivity makes the implementation of a comprehensive motor management strategy affordable and feasible. Key elements that impact a more advanced motor management strategy include:

  1. Easy application-oriented tools – For machine builders who source many of the motorized solutions, efficiencies increase when core machine components are easy to select, install, wire, commission, and can be remotely maintained. When designing and configuring a solution, rather than accessing several catalogs to identify products to build a motor management architecture (e.g., circuit breakers, contactors, overload relays, drives) and then writing down the proper part numbers for ordering, automated configuration tools now allow OEMs, panel builders and even end users to generate quick and comprehensive solutions. These tools have proven to reduce design and selection time by up to 40%. For heavy industry applications, the electrical design is impacted by large motors. The ability to evaluate the necessary transformer size, select a starting solution, or deal with power quality improvement is critical to making the right early design decisions, shaping the installation and its evolution with time. The proper engineering tools designed around these needs are the answer to such constraints.
  2. Ability to gather energy performance data – When devices, such as Altivar Process services-oriented drives, are connected to motors, they are equipped with the intelligence to operate the motor at the best efficiency point to help reduce electrical consumption by at least 30%. Further, intelligent motor starters, such as Tesys Island, and digital load management solutions make it much easier to optimize machine performance. Each load feeder can provide asset data to optimize the machine and the process, as well as provide actual line current data. These devices offer machine builders the option to both remotely monitor installed devices and to provide their clients with a cloud-based predictive maintenance service and ultimately monetize the newly accessible load asset data.
  3. Software analytics – With intelligent motor management solutions in place, maintenance personnel no longer need to be nearby asset components in order to troubleshoot. Abnormal situations can be addressed before they become critical and cause a production stop through pre-alarming that is based on pre-set behavioral parameters. The data gathered is combined and analyzed with dedicated software solutions, such as EcoStruxure Asset Advisor, so that the future performance of the customer’s assets can be predicted.  The total cost of ownership can be optimized with advanced analytics to identify potential failure modes via actionable web dashboards, timeline reports, and recommendations with operational support for people on-site.

For more information

Visit our Motor Management website to learn more about digitized motor management solution architectures that help improve motor performance and energy efficiency.

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