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issue: October 2004 APPLIANCE Magazine Part 2: Motors & Air-Moving Devices

Part 2: Motors and Air-Moving Devices
'Smart' Motor Strategies

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by Jill Russell, Assistant Editor

In order to provide efficient, cost-effective product offerings to appliance producers, motor manufacturers are relying upon new software tools. Implementing the new technology ranges throughout the product-design phase, from the initial concept phase to the replacement of a motor.

Before the Build

Software company Blue Ridge Numerics (Charlottesville, VA, U.S.) recently released an updated version of its CFdesign program that, according to Len Whitehead, product manager, “is a way to simulate product performance digitally on a computer before a prototype of the device is ever built.”

Blue Ridge Numerics’ CFdesign software program allows motor engineers and product managers to create 3D simulation of the product or component before building a design prototype. The visual model calculates flow, heat, and depicts the results in color graphics.

Using design dimensions, algorithms, geometry, and fundamental physical data, the software program is said to simulate rotational, solid-body linear and curvilinear motion within an MCAD environment.

Before data is entered in the CAD system for the prototype design, the same geometry that is typically first entered into the CAD software is instead entered into CFdesign. This data includes the physical conditions of the motor or blower regarding heat, initial air rates, and material components.

“The user interacts with the software by giving it physical attributes and the physical conditions of the component,” Mr. Whitehead explains. “They create the geometry in their CAD tool and then bring that geometry into our tool, CFdesign. There is a set of mathematical governing equations that are known to represent the physical phenomena, which is coded in the software.”

After the physical data has been entered, the program creates a simulation of the motor or blower product, showing the flow rate in a graphical and color-coded form. Compatible with any CAD software, CFdesign v7.0 allows product managers and designers to see how their design would actually work before any materials, equipment, and work-power are ever used. According to the company, the software accurately depicts the interaction between the physical device and its air movement. “It’s a 3D design and [the software] makes it intelligent,” says Jim Spann, vice president of Marketing. “It goes from just being lines and curves into actually behaving like a product in a real-world operating environment.”

This, adds Mr. Whitehead, provides a direct benefit to motor manufacturers, as design problems can be identified immediately. Instead of creating a design and then building a prototype to test it, an engineer can simply enter the data into the program and see the product in action, without a physical model. “Once they see how the device is going to perform, that allows the engineer to understand the product and make changes or modifications to try it again,” Mr. Whitehead tells APPLIANCE.

The ability to see design changes immediately and the effects they have on the motor are most beneficial to companies, according to Mr. Whitehead. In fact, the software company claims a motor manufacturer can save an average of 65 percent in the design phase, while also increasing product development and time to market.

In addition, if design changes are needed, they can be made in the MCAD program where the CFdesign software will automatically implement those changes, simulating the adjustments almost instantly. This, Mr. Whitehead says, is especially advantageous to the design of motors and blowers. “Keeping the motor cool is really important,” he says. “What CFdesign will do is allow you to conduct that test through analysis, and it gives you the temperature distribution throughout the entire device.” This analysis, he adds, is also a benefit. Instead of only knowing the data associated to a few, discrete points usually found in a prototype, the software simulation analyzes and accesses the entire working device.

The latest version of the program can also tell engineers how their motor or blower will work in the final end product. The software’s System-Level Pump/Blower Object feature, for example, provides the capability to include a centrifugal pump or blower as a component within a system level analysis. While the program is depicting results graphically, a component thermal summary report is simultaneously being generated. The resulting report gives a detailed description of the thermal results for every component within the assembly. “You can see it, just by looking at the pictures, at the images, that a piece is really hot, or really cold, but beyond that you can see why,” Mr. Whitehead tells APPLIANCE.

“ It’s a great way for engineers to test an idea or if they have a design; it’s a way to allow the user to make design refinements before they actually create prototypes and build parts,” he continues. “CFdesign can have an economic impact on product development, and our customers are telling us ‘you saved us a lot of money.’”

Motor Management

Software programs are also being designed to effectively manage a motor’s failure. In fact, the technology is being used as part of the Motor Decisions Matter (MDM) campaign, which promotes effective motor management to help reduce plant downtime and save ultimate energy use.

Originally launched in the U.S. in June 2001, the program was funded for 3 years and then extended for an additional 3 years. With a goal to increase the demand for premium-efficiency motors and best-practice motor repair service, the campaign introduced a software tool—the 1-2-3 Approach to Motor Management.

“ Motor manufacturers and distributors use MDM resources like the 1-2-3 Approach to help their customers understand and implement sound motor management strategies,” says Emily Dahl, program associate for the MDM campaign. “The campaign sponsors represent a wide array of industry experts who also serve as a valuable resource.”

Using a simple Excel spreadsheet, the free software tool, downloadable from www.motorsmatter.org, calculates energy costs and compares the financial impact of repairing or replacing motors. Used primarily for commercial and industrial equipment powered by three-phase motors, the software tool determines payback periods for NEMA Premium™ motors, calculates return-on-investment, and generates a summary report in three steps.

First, input data is entered for each respective motor that is being considered, including nameplate data, hours of operation, and facility electric rates. Next, the results are calculated, which are then reviewed between the program’s sponsors and the customer. Annual energy costs, annual energy savings, payback periods, net present value, and ROI scenarios for immediately replacing a motor with a NEMA Premium motor. Possible scenarios include waiting for it to fail and rewinding it according to best-practice guides, waiting for it to fail and replacing it with an U.S. Energy Policy Act (EPAct) motor, or waiting for it to fail and replacing it with a NEMA Premium motor. Finally, a decision is made in collaboration with an MDM sponsor. Tags can then be printed from the program and affixed to the motors, so that in the case of failure, anyone can look at the motor and know exactly what to do to achieve the best possible cost and efficiency practices. All of this is done before motor maintenance is even necessary.

“ OEMs can use the MDM campaign as a value-added resource to get customers to think about repair replacement decisions before the motor fails,” explains Ted Jones, program manager for MDM. “OEMs could specify NEMA Premium motors in their products and promote the energy-saving benefits to their customers.”

Ms. Dahl agrees the software can dramatically help companies save on costs. “The 1-2-3 Approach is viewed as credible and non-biased in the marketplace,” she says. “Consideration of life-cycle costing in addition to initial cost when making repair or replacement decisions is a valuable concept that sponsors introduce to their customers.”

issue: October 2004 APPLIANCE Magazine
Part 2: Motors and Air-Moving Devices

Click for the online Part 2 Table of Contents.


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