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Motoring on

Keeping electric motors in top condition

Electric motors and generators are key components of propulsion for vessels—generating the power they need to function and driving important rotating machinery. However, if they need replacing or repairing—especially unexpectedly—this can cause huge issues and disruptions to service. Having a clear picture of machine health enables operators to avoid unnecessary downtime.

As ships become larger and more complex, so too do the electric motors and generators that they require. As key components of the propulsion system of a ship, it is unsurprising that they wear and are prone to damage. Bearing failure is the most common failure within motors, however, vibration analysis is widely used to detect these developing issues prior to failure.   From an electrical point of view, potential failures can be caused by: deterioration of insulation, moisture and contamination, connections becoming loose, and corrosion.

Failure of components leads to service disruption

If these issues are not dealt with in good time, it is likely that this will lead to failure of these components—thus causing a disruption to service and incurring large costs. And even if a complete standstill in operation is avoided for a time, the functionality of the vessel suffers and performance is impaired. However, these factors will eventually lead to downtime and maintenance. Simply put, without anything powering the propulsion system, ships are out of action.

Modern technology offers insurance to operators

While this may sound like service and reliability are constantly at risk, modern advances in technology give ship operators the capacity to ensure that they are as prepared as possible. Condition-based monitoring of electric motors and generators benefit operators by helping them keep their vessels in the best condition possible.

A clear picture of machine health

By using condition monitoring for generators and motors, ship operators and engineers are able to get a clear and concise picture of the health of vital machinery on a ship. An issue needing a repair can be detected prior to failure, allowing maintenance to be planned. It is, in effect, an insurance policy for maritime professionals, particularly if their ship is greatly expensive.

Plan maintenance to suit your needs

Static monitoring (insulation testing) is performed periodically, while dynamic monitoring (motor and driven load performance) can be performed either periodically or continuously. When maintenance to a component is required, it is done in the docks. This is organized at a time when a ship would already be in the docks, therefore not leading to unwanted or unexpected downtime.

And it is not just downtime that is avoided. These systems can analyze condition and performance. This offers improvement to maintenance programs and helps to extend the motor life, all of which reduce costs.

Avoid unexpected downtime and service disruption

Products such as the SKF Static Motor Analyzer Baker AWA-IV provide ship operators with all the information required to keep ship maintenance and machine health under control. Always knowing the condition of a vessel enables maintenance to be planned at convenient times and avoids unexpected downtime and service disruption—ensuring that maritime professionals can focus on their core activities.