Electric motors are used in a wide variety of industrial and transportation applications. Reliability of their operation in most of these applications is of very high importance and failures can incur significant costs and downtime or even lead to disastrous consequences. Traditionally, the problem of ensuring motor reliability is dealt with using fixed interval maintenance, whereby personal at a certain time interval check the machines and their state of operation. This practice however has serious drawbacks: it can incur high costs, require a large amount of maintenance person's direct time, and additional downtime regardless of the health state of a motor.
An attractive alternative is condition-based maintenance, whereby instrumentation is located on the motor that allows diagnosis of potential problems before they actually occur. The main idea of this technology is continuous monitoring of the motor health and scheduling motor maintenance or replacement depending on its current and projected condition. This approach allows one to have always up-to-date information about the state of the critically important equipment, plan maintenance, reduce maintenance costs, minimize undesirable downtime, and prevent unexpected and possibly disastrous equipment failures. However, the absence of this type of equipment that is, accurate, robust, and low cost has not allowed this option to exist. However, current state-of-the-art controllers, along with Equalis software solutions, make a package available today that is easy-to-deploy, easy-to-operate, and scalable for automated remote monitoring of motor health. This type of solution is particularly beneficial to the transportation industry where the Equalis solution can include a cellular up-link to a server.
In this series of blog posts we will describe the process of development of a solution to the mentioned problem of condition-based maintenance for the railroads sector called Equalis Predictive Motor Maintenance Solution by Equalis (www.equalis.com), a division of the Institute for Human Factors Engineering, an engineering and scientific software and solutions provider.
The aim of the solution is providing a railroad with the up-to-date information about the health state of critical electric motors on railroad vehicles and recommendations on the plans of motor maintenance.