Aug 28, 2017

Tips and Tricks to Prevent Electric Motor Headaches

Avoid mistakes like using improper lubricants or the wrong voltage

In all aspects of business, having dependable equipment is crucial to ensuring optimal performance and profitability. This couldn’t be truer in the feed and grain industry where time and productivity is of the essence. However, the conditions to which electric motors are exposed to in this environment are very different from typical electric motor applications like warehouses or manufacturing facilities.

The most common electric motor failure in the industry is by far bearing failures. In feed and grain facility applications, these failures can be attributed to a number of factors. The most common is exposure to weather and the elements. For instance, the auger motors found on the legs of grain bins is one example of an outdoor application where shelter is typically not provided. In order for these motors to provide a respectable service life, it is imperative that they feature proper shaft sealing and moisture protection.

Troubleshooting lubrication problems

Not always is weather or moisture to blame for bearing failures. Correct lubrication and maintenance is key to ensuring long service life for any electric motor. Some common questions fielded over the years surrounding lubrication include:

  • Why do some motors have grease fittings and some do not?
  • How often should I add grease to my motor?
  • What kind of grease should I use?
  • Why is there a puddle of oil coming out of the grease relief?

Motors with grease fittings feature regreasable bearings, while motors without grease fittings feature double sealed, lubricated for life bearings. Do regreasable bearings last longer than sealed bearings? The answer to this question all depends on the greasing frequency, and if the correct, or compatible, grease is being applied.

For an electric motor that is running 24/7/365, itmay only need to have grease reapplied once or twice a year. The standard grease for most all electric motor manufacturers is Polyrex EM. If incompatible grease is applied, the physical and chemical structure will be altered and one of two things will happen:

  1. A reaction will occur preventing the base oil from being released, so the grease hardens like clay.
  2. A reaction will occur causing the base oil to be released from the chemical structure producing an oil puddle.

Overcoming voltage sag

Another set of common problems found in feed and grain industry applications is low supply voltage at the motor and voltage sag. Voltage sag is usually the result of starting multiple motors at one time. Performing a staggered starting sequence will help to prevent a voltage sag situation from occurring. Low voltage situations, on the other hand, are common largely because of the rural nature of this industry and being far from the power source on the grid. It is a good idea to meter the voltage before connecting a motor or piece of equipment to ensure that adequate line voltage is available.

In rural areas it is not uncommon to see 230-volt service actually meter closer to 200 to 208 volts. Trying to operate a motor outside of its allowable voltage limits can cause welded switch contacts, failed start capacitors, and even premature winding failures.

To prevent these types of problems, it is a good idea to meter the voltage before connecting a motor or piece of equipment. If a low voltage situation is discovered, there are electric motors designed to accept 200 to 208 volts. The best practice is to always contact a local motor shop or the equipment supplier for advice on how to proceed if the voltage is lower than the specified requirements.

Sponsored Items

Recently Added to Buyer's Guide

AgraStrip Pro GMO Rapid Test Kits

  • Independent, simultaneous testing of up to four samples
  • Limits of detection as low as 0.1%

Granulex 5

  • Up to 30% reduction in energy consumption per ton
  • Connects to Bühler Insights to enable 24/7/365 data-based decision making

Automated Extrusion Control Systems

  • Designed for increased efficiency, higher production rates, reduced waste
  • Consistent results and quality across production lines, shifts and plants

Catwalks & Towers

  • Includes handrail trusses, outrigger trusses, and walk-thru truss style catwalks with standard spans over 200 feet
  • Welded sections and panels allow for easy field assembly while maximizing freight

Market+ Merchandise

  • Bid Management to upload or enter bids, easily adjust basis and other details, and publish to originators and farmers
  • Competitive insights to see how bids compare to other nearby bids

Hydro-Mix XT-FS Sensor

  • Designed to measure moisture in flowing material where there is a food safety requirement
  • Installed in ducting, conveying and mixing systems in process control environments


Marketwatch: Dec, 06

US Corn Price Idx: ZCPAUS.CM

open: 6.5328
high: 6.55
low: 6.4408
close: 6.4673

US Soybean Price Idx: ZSPAUS.CM

open: 14.2059
high: 14.2809
low: 14.1255
close: 14.1516

US Hard Red Winter Wheat Price Idx: KEPAUS.CM

open: 8.3708
high: 8.3933
low: 8.0459
close: 8.0561

US Soft Red Winter Wheat Price Idx: ZWPAUS.CM

open: 6.9245
high: 6.947
low: 6.6307
close: 6.6779