What does a good electric motor testing program look like?

While some facilities might adopt a "use it until it breaks" mentality about electric motors, implementing a good electric motor testing (EMT) program can be a massive positive investment in the reliability of a facility's equipment. This is doubly true when we consider the sheer amount of equipment running on electric motors.

Preparation and planning
The first step (as with many maintenance implementations) is to plan out the program.

While it may seem straightforward (acquire testing equipment -> test motors), it's important to plan out every detail to make sure the program runs as efficiently as possible. Otherwise, the money spent on testing equipment can be wasted by poor implementation.

Create plans for:

  • What kind of testing equipment is required
  • What is the priority for testing (in terms of asset criticality...most critical first, least critical last)
  • What kinds of checklists must be created for maintaining the testing equipment (batteries, cleanliness, operation)
  • What type of training will your technicians need to undergo

Leaving these things out means going into an EMT program blind, which is an easy way to create a sinkhole of funds and equipment.

It's important to train technicians on proper testing procedures - you can hand them the equipment, but without the requisite skill, they won't be able to test anything (except their patience).

Testing should generally be conducted as such:

  1. Perform a small initial test to check the operation status of testing equipment
  2. Perform de-energized tests downstream from the contactor (also de-energized)
  3. Perform energized tests on the starter cabinet
  4. Make sure to test maximum circuit and load
  5. When potential problems are found, make sure the problem is actually an issue and not an anomaly (check against other forms of technology)

Testing things properly is the best way to both obtain verified, useful data and to keep your technicians safe in the midst of testing.

Create actionable reports
Once problems are found (or not found), it's important to document results.

Some people might say documenting unproblematic motors is a waste of time, but it's useful to think about motor testing reports as verification of work. Even when everything goes right, we need to know for sure that that's the case. If we just assume that everything went well without a report, we don't have any way to track the work being done. These reports should then be communicated to the proper people, especially when issues are found.

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