Drive Maintenance: Essential yet Overlooked

It’s a commonly held belief that industrial products such as drives and motors equipped with electronic components do not require any specific maintenance

  • Drive Maintenance: Essential yet Overlooked
    Drive Maintenance: Essential yet Overlooked
  • Drive Maintenance: Essential yet Overlooked
    Drive Maintenance: Essential yet Overlooked
  • Drive Maintenance: Essential yet Overlooked
    Drive Maintenance: Essential yet Overlooked

Both OEMs and end users could benefit from a better understanding of the need for maintenance. Yet many end users may not even be aware that their machines contain components such as drives, let alone that these drives require maintenance or that maintenance services are available on the market. The article outlines how this situation can be rectified through measures such as correctly scheduled preventive maintenance that can transform a drive’s operational capabilities and its life cycle.

The need for maintenance

The main reason for system failures is aging components, and the aging rate depends on operational conditions. High temperatures and heavy cyclical loads may shorten a component’s lifetime substantially. High temperatures may not necessarily be the root cause of a failure, but reduced cooling power due to dirty air filters may well be. This is because it can cause a domino effect where increased temperature accelerates semiconductor aging. Hence, an aging component may cause consequential damage to other parts of the drive, including power semiconductors. A demanding environment, such as high ambient temperature, humidity, dirt, dust and cyclic heavy loads, can shorten component lifetime as well as maintenance and component replacement intervals.

To function properly over the specified lifetime, drives require systematic regular preventive maintenance. The only ways to keep drives and OEM machinery functioning properly over years or even decades are systematic preventive maintenance and replacing aging components before they fail.

The best way to learn more

ABB believes that training is the best way to develop a real-life understanding of the role maintenance should play in order to make systems less prone to failure and remain in better working order for longer. We encourage all OEMs who work with us to have at least one senior service engineer attend our maintenance training. Maintenance is an elemental part of system lifetime performance, and engineers’ hands-on experience of this will have positive ramifications for each player in the value chain, finally resulting in increased end-user satisfaction and improved customer service.

Life cycle management model

ABB’s life cycle management model helps ensure the availability of drive services across the machine’s life cycle and can provide a smooth transition to new drive technology as the machine lifetime reaches its final stages.

ABB follows a four-phase model for managing the life cycles of its drives. The life cycle phases are Active, Classic, Limited and Obsolete. The service offering is defined for every drive separately. The availability of individual services depends on the drive’s current life cycle phase. This model provides customers with a transparent method for managing their investment in drives, with clear visibility over which services are available in each phase.

Life Cycle Assessment service

In Life Cycle Assessment, data from the drives at a particular facility are combined and analyzed with their criticality to the process or application. This assessment provides a clear understanding of the drive installed base, sets clear priorities for maintenance, and defines clearly when to upgrade, retrofit or replace listed drives. This means improved service budget management as all plant maintenance actions can be planned and budgeted for years to come.

Preventive Maintenance program

To increase drive reliability and cut operational costs, ABB has developed the Preventive Maintenance program. This consists of annual inspections and component replacements according to drive-specific maintenance schedules.

OEM applications sometimes need customized maintenance schedules and documentation. For example, components such as a drive’s cooling fan may require yearly inspection, with replacement necessary after six years if in operation under demanding conditions, and every three years thereafter. On the other hand, various component connections and cables may only require inspection, without regularly scheduled replacement.

Reconditioning service

Authorized ABB drive service workshops worldwide can restore ABB drives to their original condition. Reconditioning of a drive includes full inspection, thorough cleaning and individual component analysis and replacement. The reconditioned drive undergoes complete full-load testing and comes with a one-year warranty. 

The workshop reconditioning service is an attractive preventive maintenance option for drives between nine and 12 years old. Changing and maintaining aging electrolytic capacitors on circuit boards and DC link capacitors require skills and facilities that an OEM doesn’t necessarily have. 

Drive mobile apps

ABB offers two smartphone apps – Drivetune and Drivebase – that provide a user-friendly and easy-to-use approach to the commissioning, servicing and use of ABB drives. Drivetune is capable of connecting wirelessly to ABB drives. By using a user-friendly interface, it is possible to more quickly and efficiently start up and tune a drive and the application it controls. Drivebase is an app that allows easy access to product manuals and a search function for ABB contacts. The app also facilitates reporting service actions and provides users with service recommendations for their drives installed base.

Energy Appraisal service

Given that power consumption savings of 50 percent can be made by reducing the motor speed by just 20 percent, and with payback times being as short as six months, it is worthwhile considering an ABB energy appraisal service. Free tools to calculate energy savings, known collectively as EnergySave, can be used to quickly calculate the energy-saving potential.

Planned maintenance enables drives to deliver their true potential

It is clear that aging components that are poorly, infrequently or never maintained may result in other parts of the drive being damaged, leading to increased risk of failure and a decrease in its functional lifetime. Regular predefined preventive maintenance schedules circumvent these tendencies and facilitate service budgeting on a basis optimal to the product’s true potential. Guaranteeing the maximum machine uptime and delaying the cost of machine replacement are clear business priorities for end users. Maintenance schedules are the only means through which this additional layer of good customer service can be achieved.