Motor Efficiency: Easy as 1-2-3

Motor decisions matter. At least that's what those in the know say. "Research shows that most facility managers don't properly understand motor management, so there's a tremendous business opportunity here," says Ilene Mason, program manager with the Consortium for Energy Efficiency (CEE). The organization, along with several motor manufacturers and utilities, is behind the Motor Decisions Matt...

03/01/2004


Motor decisions matter. At least that's what those in the know say. "Research shows that most facility managers don't properly understand motor management, so there's a tremendous business opportunity here," says Ilene Mason, program manager with the Consortium for Energy Efficiency (CEE). The organization, along with several motor manufacturers and utilities, is behind the Motor Decisions Matter campaign—an effort to promote the use of effective motor management. But in putting its money where its mouth is, the group, at National Manufacturing Week in Chicago last month, launched a free downloadable software tool that may help plant managers, commercial building operators and their consultants get the most out of their motors energy-wise, and more importantly, avoid downtime.

Dubbed the "1-2-3 Approach to Motor Management," the program, according to Mason, is a simple spreadsheet that allows the user to take a random sampling of motors in his or her facility and plug the data into the respective fields, with the program spitting out a number of options for acting proactively or upon motor failure.

For example, Mason says the user is entering data for a 100-hp, 1,800-rpm motor that runs 8,000 hours per year with an electricity rate of six cents per kWh. The motor's nameplate efficiency is 92.2%. Factoring in the purchase prices for higher caliber motors, the cost of a rewound motor and installation costs, the user can then get an across-the-board comparison demonstrating current energy cost; cost with a NEMA premium motor; cost (upon failure) to rewind a motor; cost (upon failure) to replace it with an EPACT motor; and finally, cost (upon failure) to replace it with a NEMA premium motor. The tool also calculates annual energy savings, return on investment (ROI) and simple payback period. Taking the data identified earlier, the calculator shows that replacing a functioning motor with a NEMA premium motor saves $1,303 with a 4.4% ROI and 4.14-year payback. In the scenarios involving failed motors, replacing one with an EPACT motor accrues a $945 annual energy savings, a 7.9% ROI and a payback of 3.6 years. Replacing the motor with a NEMA premium motor nets an annual energy savings of $1,303, a 16.4% ROI and a payback of 2.7 years.

In this case, the latter is the best option even though there's an initial investment of $5,388 for the motor. Rewinding it cost $1,851, but yielded no energy savings.

Mason emphasizes that the program, again, is only designed to check a random sample and not an entire facility's motor fleet.

"The idea, really, is to provide the ability to deliver hard money numbers to decision makers so they can make intelligent decisions for their facilities," says Mason.

Tracy Narel, program manager with the U.S. EPA and Energy Star program, endorsed the MDM tool and encouraged its use. "Planning ahead allows facility managers to consider opportunities to replace a failed motor with one of a more appropriate type, size or higher efficiency," says the Energy Star official.

To try the spreadsheet and get more information on the program and the MDM campaign (you'll need to register), visit www.motorsmatter.org .



Motor Facts

Less than 12% of plant managers understand the real cost of operating motors in their facilities.

Approximately 12.4 million electric motors of more than 1 hp are in service in U.S. plants.

Roughly 2.9 million of these motors fail every year.

Motors consume roughly 23% of all electricity sold in the United States.



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