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issue: October 2006 APPLIANCE Magazine - Part 2: Motors & Air-Moving Devices

Motors and Air-Moving Devices
Quick Test

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by Erin Biesen, Associate Editor

Motor testing methods are evolving for greater levels of safety, quality and manufacturing efficiency.

Nippon Pulse released the Motion Checker 5 that allows engineers to test stepper motors at various speeds and torques.

More OEMs are looking to brushless DC permanent magnet motors to help solve problems and optimize the efficiency of appliances. As they specify more efficient motors they want to make their testing methods equally optimized.
One way is by combining multiple tests into fewer test devices. “So what would normally take two test stations, we incorporate into one piece of equipment,” says Shari Richardson, electrical safety test and cable test product manager for Quadtech, Inc. (Maynard, Massachusetts, U.S.). The company created the Hybrid 2000 to allow for a dielectric withstand test as well as a resistance test without requiring the down time that comes with disconnecting and reconnecting the motor.
Richardson notes that some users now want to add other tests to the machine in order to better automate their manufacturing. “It’s a lot easier to automate one piece of equipment than multiple pieces of equipment,” she points out.
Hansen Corporation, located in Princeton, Indiana, U.S., also took a giant step forward in motor manufacturing efficiency by combining several tests into one machine. “We now have an automatic 12-station tester. We load the motors and it performs all of our standard tests and gives us feedback on the computer screen,” says Lincoln Dreher, design engineer manager. “It can tell us exactly what failed, how much it failed by and helps us figure out what we need to do to fix that unit.” The company integrated the system in May 2006 to increase manufacturing efficiency.
Whether it is performing one test or several, on one motor or many, the testing must be done correctly. Companies want to see “That the tests have met the required testing specifications, that the testing equipment used to perform the tests meets specifications, that it’s been calibrated properly, and its operation has been verified,” says Sean Snyder sales manager at Slaughter Test Systems (Ardmore, Oklahoma, U.S.). “There also needs to be a data trail so that at the end of the day everyone, whether it is the manufacturer or the manufacturer’s customers, can feel confident not just that the components were tested, but that they were tested properly and there is a data trail showing traceability for the qualifications of that test.”
Nippon Pulse America, Inc., located in Radford, Virginia, U.S., recently released Motion Checker 5, or MCH-5, which lets engineers test stepper motors at various speeds and torques in order to refine motion profiles. This allows engineers to test profile variations and refine programming requirements before programmers begin coding. “It makes it easier to test and run prototype designs,” says Dana German, sales engineer for the company. “The motion checker can take the place of a bench full of other electronics and helps speed up motor life cycle testing and design testing.”

Quadtech is answering customer demand by combining several tests into one piece of equipment to increase efficiency. Pictured is the Guardian 6100+.

A Lab of Their Own
A.O. Smith Electrical Products Company has a motor testing lab located in Tipp City, Ohio, U.S. “This is a state of the art motor test center for the advanced development of products to meet agency standards, both local and international, such as NVLAP, CSA, UL, and CE. We are one of only about 13 or 14 labs in the world that have the NVLAP certification,” says Jim Kinninger, manager of engineering laboratories for A.O. Smith.
The motor maker mostly tests its own products, however, the lab will also test competitors’ products. A.O. Smith can also test products as a third party; for example, to verify the performance of a product that needs to be certified for federal and international standards, or simply to help an end user verify motor performance.
The lab has 11,000 kVA of power and at any given time it has about 500 motors under test. “We have an in-house, custom-built dynamometer test system, which allows us to run either automatic or manual testing and collect data at high speed through digital data acquisition,” says Kinninger. “We have 22 dynamometers in this facility, and we can test from about
1/2 of an ounce-inch to 5,000 foot-pounds of range.” The lab is equipped to provide up to 1,200 A of continuous power for the motor test. It has four torque tables and can capture speed and torque data at 10,000 points per second. A complete speed torque profile can be generated in
6 to 8 seconds.
M.E.A. Test Systems Ltd., located in Netanya, Israel, has a test for the production control of electrical drives that allows companies to assess, in a matter of seconds, the static and dynamic characteristics of an electric motors.
The static characteristics include power input and output, speed efficiency, torque speed, friction torque speed, stator temperature, and determination of load curves. The dynamic characteristics include speed-time during acceleration, torque-time during acceleration, unbalance at rotational frequency, spectrum analysis of the speed and torque oscillations, spectrum analysis of the friction torque, and cogging level.
This method of testing can be used in research and development and also for production quality control of motors, gearmotors and electrical brakes. The speed is measured by a speed sensor or by an internal motor encoder that supplies the speed signal. Software calculates from the measured values the data for static and dynamic characteristics.
Dipl.-Ing Alfred K. Wunsch EC Energoconsult says that M.E.A. testing procedures for quality assurance differ from methods commonly used. “Conventionally, some parameters like winding resistance, quality of insulation at elevated voltage, reaching of maximum speed, and similar criteria will be checked. If those parameters are found satisfactory it is assumed that the motor will reach its design characteristic. With the M.E.A. system a different top-down approach is followed.”
If deviations from design values are discovered, they will indicate faults. Every fault type has a fingerprint that can be identified. Wunsch says, “This way more faults—be they electrical or mechanical—are detected than with conventional test methods.”
At the end of the day, motor manufacturers and appliance OEMs all want to be sure that the end product and all the components have passed their quality and safety tests and that they have the evidence to prove it. Companies will continue to look at more ways to automate and combine tests in order to create more efficient motor manufacturing. Richardson notes, “Across the board, we see manufacturers trying to eliminate the manual operations, to automate and combine motor testing.”

Suppliers mentioned in this article:
A. O. Smith
QuadTech Inc.
Hansen Corp.
Slaughter Co.
Nippon Pulse America Inc.

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