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Repair, replace or refurbish?

01 May, 2024

If your drives or motors are in need of a service, there are three main options: repair, replace, or refurbish. Liam Blackshaw, ABB’s UK product manager for LV drives, discusses some of the pros and cons of each of these options.

In January’s Back to Basics column we talked about the importance of carrying out a “winter health check” on your drives to make sure they are fighting fit for the colder months. If you’ve carried out such an inspection, then you may well have uncovered some hidden issues lurking that could potentially contribute to future failures to your drive and/or motor assets. If that’s the case, then it’s now decision time. 

For both drives and motors, there are typically three options: repair, replace, or recondition (for drives) and refurbish (for motors). Repairing, by its nature, is always going to be a reactive undertaking, often carried out after a failure has occurred. For critical equipment, merely having a plan in place for what to do in the event of a failure is already a good start, and better than having no plan at all. This will entail considering the likely impact of any failure, what the route to repairing the device is, how long it will take, and the location and condition of any on-site spare inventory. If you’ve got a manufacturer-approved service provider on the doorstep, then simply knowing who to call and how long they’ll take to get there can save valuable time in the event of an unexpected failure.

Proactive servicing is also an option for drives or motors that are still operating normally, but run the risk of developing issues in the near future, based on their age, condition or operating environment. This can be carried out by any accredited service provider, and can be thought of as similar to a car’s MOT.

Getting a clearer idea of how many parts need to be replaced, what they are, and when, can inform the discussion when it comes to deciding whether to repair or replace.

Replacing a motor or drive is the best option to make it as up-to-date, efficient and reliable as it can be, but it will come at a cost. In addition, there’s also a circularity argument – as a general rule, upgrading to higher efficiency levels is a good thing, and can pay for itself rapidly in lower energy costs. However, the manufacture of a new asset, and disposal of an old one, can have implications for carbon and sustainability targets – particularly if there is no established disposal and/or recycling procedure.

For motors, there’s an additional option in the form of refurbishment – including rewinding. In terms of cost, this option generally occupies the middle ground between repairing and replacing, extending a motor’s useful lifespan. On the upside, this can return your motor back to its original condition or better. However, even a refurbished IE2 motor is still an IE2 motor, and so the equation may change based on its condition, age, criticality, and expected remaining lifetime.


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