Reliability and Drive Lifespan for Manufacturing

Machine shopWhen choosing a drive or other motion control for manufacturing, many of our clients are understandably concerned with reliability; after all, drive failure can cause significant problems for businesses. Not only will manufacturers have to bear the burden of repair costs, but they will also suffer the costs of any downtime.

Chiefly, customers enquire about the lifetime of a drive. However, we recommend that our customers look beyond this quite ‘one-dimensional’ measure of reliability and take into account the relative conditions of their operation.

What affects drive service life

Environmental conditions can have significant impact on the lifespan or service life of a drive. Manufacturers tend to base the lifespan calculation on the ‘average’ or standard conditions that their customers apply to a drive. This can cause confusion for some manufacturers – operating under ‘abnormal’ or nonstandard conditions.

Environmental conditions that might affect service life are things like the ambient temperature or voltage and load applied to a drive. It may also be affected by how long or frequently a drive is run continuously.

In short, ‘Lifetime’ as reported by a manufacturer may not be what you have in mind as the longevity of a product. To illustrate, a manufacturer may advertise a 10-year lifetime – but this conclusion may have been reached by calculating the chance of failure when the drive is running 12 hours a day. If you plan to have a drive running 24 hours a day, then a 10-year lifetime can easily drop to 5 years or perhaps even further.

What’s more, some manufacturers seem to have trouble calculating the cumulative failure rate of drives. Motion controls are complex devices, made up of lots of different components – each of which can cause the device as a whole to fail. A manufacturer may predict a device’s 5-year life span based on all of the individual components having a 5-year lifespan. However, if there are 20 components then the chance of failure becomes a lot higher; this is something consumers should bear in mind when choosing a drive supplier.

The final thing to consider – and question with the drive supplier – is whether the lifespan is conditional on any repairs. A 10-year lifespan may for instance be conditional on replacing a component every three years. If this component is not replaced then the lifespan becomes void.

Manufacturers should also pay attention to the type of repairs that are needed. Some repairs can be carried out with little hassle while others require more significant repair work and usually some downtime.

Motion control specification to suit your manufacturing

When choosing a drive it is important that you request the specification for a reported lifetime. Ask the supplier what environmental conditions their lifespan calculation is based on and what repairs may need to be carried out during the period.

To get a lifespan based on your manufacturing specification, or for more information about the lifecycle of drives, call one of our experts on 01457 837 145.