A high-efficiency motor can save energy and money, but only if it’s working properly.

That’s why the Copper Development Association recommends that companies and facility managers have a program in place to monitor the health of electrical motors.

“The goal of a motor-management plan is to take advantage of opportunities for energy savings and increased productivity using energy-efficient, reliable motors such as premium efficiency motors,” said Richard DeFay, project manager for the CDA’s sustainable energy program. “This allows maintenance supervisors and facility managers to make easier replace-versus-repair decisions and see fewer motor failures in the field.”

There are three main electrical motor efficiency classes, with premium efficiency motors at the top. They best use the strength, sustainability and connections of copper, the CDA said.

The association has put together a three-part motor maintenance program, and offers training for companies, utilities and even the military, through a partnership with Washington State University.

“The object is to identify the energy-savings opportunities,” said Gilbert “Gil” McCoy, an energy systems engineer at the university. “The motor-management plan not only indicates savings in dollars but also gives the user a path that describes how those savings can be obtained.”

After undertaking inventory of its motors, a program participant can compare the cost of repairing versus replacing units through software programs.

“The key question from the start should be ‘Do you repair a motor when it fails or replace it with a new premium-efficiency model?’ ” DeFay said. “While the repair costs are typically lower than buying a new motor, you’ll pay for it later when a critical motor fails and the production line grinds to a halt.”