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Commissioning motors safely

12 March, 2019

Rob Wood, ABB’s UK sales manager for LV motors, looks at how to install and commission motors properly to boost their reliability, minimise breakdowns, and cut operating costs.

Transport.  Moving a motor safely, using the correct procedures for loading and securing recommended by the manufacturer, will ensure that it arrives undamaged and fully functional. Transport damages are not covered by warranty, so care must be taken not to damage delicate surfaces or equipment.


Storage.  If a motor is going to be stored, make sure it is in conditions appropriate to both the type of machine and the local environment. Particular care must be taken to ensure ventilation and to prevent moisture, rain and vermin from entering the machine. 


Safety.  Before disconnecting an old motor and installing a new one:

1: Clearly identify the work location and complete a risk assessment

2: Disconnect and secure against reconnection

3: Protect yourself from contact with other live parts

4: Take special precautions when close to bare conductors

5: Check the installation is electrically dead

6: Carry out earthing and short-circuit testing

7: Issue a permit-to-work


Installation and erection.  This is a critical step, because complications introduced here will affect the reliability of the motor in the future. Installation and erection procedures vary depending on foundation type and machine, so it is essential that work is carried out by qualified personnel.


Alignment.  It is important to align the motor with the driven equipment, because misalignment puts stress on both, causing maintenance difficulties such as vibrations and bearing and coupling damage. 


Mechanical connections.  Make sure that mechanical connections such as pipework do not put stress on the motor’s side flanges. Also ensure that pipes and accessories don’t get in the way of future maintenance actions. The longer it takes to perform maintenance, the longer equipment is out of action, which costs money. 


Electrical connections.  Electrical work should always be carried out by qualified personnel and should follow safety regulations. Special care must be taken when making high-voltage connections. A typical connection mistake is to exclude the pressure washer, causing the spring washer to work its way gradually into the copper and to loosen the connection. Loose or poor electrical connections can cause overheating and flashovers.


Commissioning.  Proper commissioning is also essential. The installation, including alignment and electrical connections, will be verified. Possible issues will be spotted and rectified before they can cause damage.


Test run.  The final test run will help confirm that all is according to specification and that the machine is ready to go into service without risking expensive materials or causing disruption to the main processes.


For more information, you can view this video:

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