Lack of maintenance on electric motors in the industrial sector of South Africa has resulted in excessive failures, which ultimately leads to unnecessary downtime costs and production stoppages being incurred by operations nationwide.
According to Craig FitzGerald, COO at wear control specialist Filter Focus, the majority of smaller scale electric motors operating locally are never greased or lubricated. “In my experience, most maintenance engineers are not even aware that there are bearings on electric motors. As a result, no lubrication is done, and costly and easily-avoidable failure occurs,” he explains.
FitzGerald indicates that an electric motor is typically lubricated once at the manufacturing facility. “Generally it is a medium to low quality lubricant that is applied once only, and this is simply not sufficient for the operational lifespan of the motor.Due to the fact that these motors are often found in confined and hard-to-reach places that are located at-height or under moving conveyor belts, they are unwittingly neglected by site supervisors too.”
The importance of selecting quality lubricants
Lubrication softens the harsh metal-to-metal contact between gears. During this contact, air bubbles are formed when cheap, low-quality lubricants are applied. FitzGerald highlights the fact that this is one of the countless forms of destructive contamination. “There is often the belief that using cheaper lubrications will save the operation money, however, the expenses associated with the long-term maintenance and wear problems will prove to be exceptionally costly and disruptive.”
Due to the harsh operating conditions in Africa, motors and gearboxes become particularly susceptible to rust, corrosion or deterioration. “These threats arise from the climate, dirty operational environments, as well as low level artisans and cleaners that spray the equipment with water during cleaning, inadvertently damaging the equipment , due to a lack of training and knowledge.”
An easy-to-apply and environmentally-friendly RustPrufe corrosion protection solution for non-porous surfaces eliminates the need to repair damage to these surfaces. FitzGerald notes that RustPrufe – available locally through Filter Focus – is a painted or sprayed-on acrylic polymer emulsion that dries to form a seamless, skin-tight weather and UV-resistant protective barrier.
“RustPrufe is the most convenient, cost-effective and user-friendly option to ensure that these costly components are not damaged. What’s more, the components do not have to be sanded down or rust treated.
Unlike traditional tape, wax and oil coatings that must be scraped off and cleaned with solvents, RustPrufe does not leave behind a residue. It is also highly-durable and, should tears or perforations appear, they can be closed by applying the coating to the exposed area with a paintbrush.
RustPrufe is also acid-resistant, and has been successfully used to protect electric motors in acid plants on numerous South African mines. In addition, it is also environmentally-friendly and with zero toxicity leftover, it can be disposed of safely in landfills.
With no harmful chemicals, PPE is not required, and an absence of harmful vapours and fumes means that RustPrufe can be applied in confined spaces too.FitzGerald believes that by continuing to raise awareness on the importance of effective maintenance and corrosion control, Filter Focus can assist local operations in achieving long-term savings.
“Education is key to raising awareness, and we are committed to providing our clients with training and back-up support on all products, to ensure that they achieve optimal performance,” he concludes.