It’s an all-too-familiar scenario: your facility is humming along, when suddenly, some ominous sounds or untimely shutdowns herald a problem that’s going to take more than a moment of your time. You find that one of your electric motors has failed. Industrial machinery works hard, and just as human bodies often gave out under the burdens of hard labor, the machines we’ve designed to assist and replace us can fail as well. Even high-quality electric motors are prone to breakdown. Magnets can lose their charges, brushes can wear down, and other moving parts can simply stop moving as well as they need to. Whatever the reason, the upshot is the same—a critical piece of machinery is not able to do its job, and that means lost time, lost revenue, and high stress.

Though it’s always an unwanted occurrence, a motor breakdown isn’t always a catastrophe. In plenty of instances, a broken motor is nothing the experts can’t fix. Some fixes are quick, easy, and relatively inexpensive ones, at that. On other occasions, a motor has done all the work it can do, further repairs are simply band-aid solutions to deeper problems, and it’s simply time to cut your losses. After repeated incidents, the costs of immediate and future repairs combine to make starting fresh with a new model the better investment in the long run. When it comes to making these investments, whether repairs or replacements, you always want to allocate your funds sensibly and without waste. When is it ideal to fix an existing motor and when is it best to replace it? In this guide, we’ll help you to distinguish between when to repair and when to replace your industrial electric motor—and how you should go about addressing each situation.

Considering Repairs

The field of electric motors is a broad one. The motors that power CNC spindles practically fit in the palm of your hand, while others are imposing pieces of equipment. Elevator motors, one such larger variant, are built to last. The lifespan of the average elevator motor is about twenty years. That’s a lot of rides—15,000 of them at the most conservative estimate. Over the course of those twenty years, one can’t expect it to be nothing but smooth trips up and down the shaft. In addition to excessive wear on the sheaves leading to stuttering movements and erratic side-to-side motion, wear and tear on the additional moving parts necessary in AC-to-DC conversion often leads to motor breakdown. Other components, such as DC motors’ fragile carbon brushes or the gearboxes that give these motors the torque they need, can break or fail as well, leading to an elevator that is out of service and more than an inconvenience for employees and residents who rely on an alternative to stairs. Fortunately, a repair within the twenty-year lifespan of an elevator motor is usually the best bet.

For your industrial motor repair needs, remember that Moley Magnetics offers repair services for AC and DC electric motors. Whether your motor can make it to our shop or you need us to make a house call, as it were, the service professionals at Moley are trained and equipped to literally get your motor running. Our pros can tackle repairs for DC motors themselves, as well as the gearboxes that supply the necessary torque for high-level industrial operations.

When Replacement Is the Right Option

Smaller electric motors are usually apt for replacement with no significant expenses. Stepper motors typically find use at the hobbyist level, but even well-built industrial stepper motors can degrade over time. Due to steppers’ small size and affordability, you’ll find that it’s usually best to simply switch them out. Servo motors, the more advanced and gearbox-powered alternative to stepper motors, represent greater investments and may not be worth immediately replacing at the first sign of failure. If your servo has been in service for several years, however, replacement may be the better option.

Sometimes repairs aren’t worth the money. Consider the parable of the $10 boots. A man in need of boots but unwilling to spend a lot of money buys a pair for $10. Unfortunately for him, the boots quickly wear out, and he must buy another pair, repeating this process as each pair wears out. Soon, the man has spent hundreds of dollars on his footwear without keeping his feet from getting wet. Constant repairs can be a lot like cheap replacements. In avoiding larger upfront costs, you spend money time after time but never seem to have anything to show for it. A long history of motor repairs can eventually far outstrip the expenses of simply buying an altogether new one.

Look at it this way: if you have to keep repairing and repairing an industrial motor, maybe the motor was never well-built to begin with. If you begin to see that the trajectory of your electric motor’s lifespan is one of constant repairs, it’s time to swap it out. Moley Magnetics offers a full complement of electric motors, with brushed and brushless offerings, AC and DC models, and products from the most trusted brands.

Replacing a Motor: What’s Next?

When weighing when to repair and when to replace your industrial electric motor leads you to commit to a replacement electric motor, you have a decision to make with its predecessor. What do you do with an electric motor at the end of its useful lifespan? It would be easy to consign it directly to the dumpster. It would also be tremendously wasteful. The materials that go into an electric motor are recyclable, and in the case of metals such as copper or zinc, decidedly lucrative. Keeping those materials in circulation not only takes steps toward reducing waste but allows you to recoup some of your costs. Industrial recycling equipment from Moley Magnetics will aid you in recovering disused metals from across your facility. Moley’s line of hammer mills will allow you to make short work of a spent electric motor with minimal to no prior disassembly—simply let the machinery do the job. For larger jobs, you may turn to an electric motor chopper to break down a tough piece of equipment and allow you to harvest the valuable copper within. In addition to hammer mills, Moley Magnetics features the wire granulators, separators, and shredders that turn metals into money and keep them from heading to the landfill.

When To Repair and When To Replace Your Industrial Electric Motor