Thomas Marks, Secretary at the AEMT, looks at one way to keep large-scale industrial sites equipped with reliable and efficient electric motors.
Leasing has become an increasingly popular choice when it comes to funding a new car. Small regular payments enable the ongoing use of a brand-new vehicle and includes warranties and maintenance support. With large electric motors requiring similar capital expenditure for a complete purchase, could manufacturers or suppliers offer similar benefits through a leasing agreement?
Personal contract plans (PCPs) provide many people with an affordable way to drive new vehicles that come with increased efficiencies, technologies and reliability. The package brings dealer support for maintenance, offering drivers stress-free motoring, safe in the knowledge that if any issues arise, the dealer will sort them out without any additional charges.
The scale of modern industry is such that many applications now require large electric motors to power machinery. The capital investment required means that few can afford a spare component or failure, so for the prime mover, reliability is an important characteristic.
Is it beyond the realms of possibilities that the same blueprint for PCP finance could be used to ease the financial burden involved with large electric motors?
This concept could see the motor supplier lease the unit to the end-user with certain conditions of use as well as a service plan included in the monthly charge. The manufacturer would cover routine servicing, maintenance and any repairs through local, authorised service centres. The customer could choose a contract that includes removal and fitting of the equipment as well as expected response times and maximum periods of downtime.
Optimising maintenance downtime
With predictive maintenance included, this idea has the potential to reduce capital expenditure. Planned downtime, dictated by the data being fed back to the service provider, will minimise disruptions to production, and eliminate risk. The level of service required from the motor supplier can be equated to the expenditure on the contract, which will be dictated by the importance and costs associated with downtime. Depending on the importance of the process being powered by the motor, operators can demand different levels of support from the supplier. Where downtime is measured in tens of thousands of pounds per hour, an immediate response will be required. If an alternative motor can be used or downtime is less costly, a repair within 24 hours may be more appropriate.
The speed of response in the event of any problem with the motor could have been an issue in the past. Today software can eliminate delays, by combining Industry 4.0, remote monitoring and predictive maintenance. As more assets are integrated into the online infrastructure of a production process, sensor data and trend analysis can be used to predict the most opportune time for maintenance.
Furthermore, as motor designs improve and new technologies increase efficiency, there is an opportunity for those leasing motors to take advantage of these improvements without having to increase capital expenditure. Just as a motorist would trade in their three-year-old car for the latest model, production managers can maintain the efficiency and reliability of their electric motors in the same way.
An exchange for more modern equipment does present a potential issue with the efficient motors that are being replaced as part of the deal. The redundant motor could be refurbished or upgraded to better specifications and returned to a pool of assets for lease or resale.
Older motors that may be taken in part exchange can be dismantled and the components either reused or recycled. Raw material costs can fluctuate irregularly as geo-politics control them. Not only that, but they cost a great deal in carbon emissions to extract the raw material, process and ship across the globe. When manufacturing large machines, it is a better economy to use reused or recycled components wherever possible. This last point is a very important consideration as the world focuses on becoming more sustainable.
It’s essential that manufacturers and end-users alike take responsibility for their role in reducing waste and making the most of the resources they consume. Optimising electrical efficiency not only reduces operating costs but can also help cut fossil fuel usage and the related carbon dioxide emissions. To that end, surely innovative schemes that encourage improved efficiency and reduced expenditure, can only be a good thing?