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Knowledge Base Article

Proactive Motor Monitoring

Article ID: NK-1000-0675

Publish Date: 27 Dec 2010
Article Status: Approved
Article Type: General Product Technical Information
Required Action: Information Only

Article Revision History:

Revision/Publish Description of Revision
27 Dec 2010 Original release of article

Affected Products:
Product Line Category Device Version
Machinery Health AMS Machinery Manager Data Analysis
Management Software
Machinery Health Motor Motor


S.V. Bowers, W.A. Davis, and K.R. Piety Computational Systems, Incorporated

While vibration monitoring is the main method for predicting premature failure in motors, other proactive motor monitoring
methods can be employed to avoid premature failures as well as to provide additional sensitivity to electrically -generated
faults. Three proactive measurements which can be very beneficial are temperature, flux and shaft current. All of these
measurements are similar to vibration in that they are fast, simple, relatively safe and non-interruptive to acquire. The
measurements may be ordered as route points for quick data collection. Abnormal temperatures can point to several
potential problems such as: hot spots in the stator, overheating due to poor air flow or unbalanced voltage, and even
potential bearing failure. A flux coil is employed to capture flux signals which provide an electrical 'quality' signature
sensitive to conditions which alter the electrical characteristics of the motor, such as broken rotor bars, eccentricity, or
imbalance between phases. Shaft current measurements detect unwanted stray currents which are a root cause
associated with premature bearing failures.

Excessive and prolonged heat is the main factor responsible for shortening the life expectancy of motors. The two
components most affected by excessive heat are the insulation system and bearings. A general rule of thumb is that the
thermal life of an insulation system is halved for each 10C increase in exposure temperature [3, 6]. Higher temperatures
also reduce viscosity of oil or grease in bearings. Thus, bearings fail prematurely due to improper lubrication. Therefore,
detecting excessive heat within motors and preventing extended periods of operation under such conditions is highly

Temperature measurements are a simple, fast method for estimating motor overheating. Common causes of overheating
are overloading, bearing seizure and misalignment [9]. However, many other effects can contribute t o overheating. Such
effects are restricted ventilation, single phasing, high ambient temperatures, excessive duty cycles, and power supply
variations (high, low or unbalanced voltage) [9].

An electric motor by definition produces magnetic flux. Any small unbalance in the magnetic or electric circuit of motors
effectively magnifies axially transmitted fluxes [11]. A simple sensor for detecting these signals is a flux coil. A FFT
spectrum of a flux measurement contains a host of frequencies. Many of the frequencies are related to the speed of the
motor. It also appears that the flux measurement can provide a preliminary indication of rotor bar defects (provided data is
trended). As electrical faults appear, sideband frequencies increase. Additionally, there are many frequencies in the flux
spectrum whose source or diagnostic significance is not yet understood.

Through transformer action, stray magnetic forces caused by slight dissymmetry in the motor's iron circuit produce motor
shaft currents. Magnetically-induced currents circulating between the motor rotor and the stator frame are interfaced at the
motor's bearings. Such currents can cause the bearings to fail [12]. According to Costello [4], problems are associated
with the use of poorly insulated or non-insulated bearings or by inadvertently bypassing the insulation... By simply
measuring and trending the AC and DC current from shaft to ground, bearing faults due to shaft currents can be
predicted. This measurement is easily obtained with a 'shaft whisker".


Since motor temperatures are higher than the surrounding environment, motor-generated heat will transfer to the cooler
ambient air. How the heat is transferred affects the maximum operation of the motor. Factors that affect the rate of heat
transfer are frame material, frame surface area, airflow through and over the motor, ambient air density (altitude), and
motor enclosure [1].

While the frame material and surface area cannot be altered, anything that restricts the flow of air will have a direct effect
on the motor's ability to transfer heat away. The most common deterrent is grime and dirt. If inlets become clogged, less
air flows and heat is not transferred away from the motor. If debris is allowed to accumulate on the motor, the la yers of
filth tend to act as an insulator, therefore keeping heat in and not allowing sufficient transfer to the ambient air. As a re sult
of these impedances, the temperature of the motor shell (or skin temperature) and the outlet air will increase.

Factors other than diminished air flow will cause increase in motor temperature. One such factor is excessive internal heat
generation. Sources generating heat can be faults in the stator or rotor, excessive load and/or variations in supply voltage.
Faults in the stator or rotor are generally due to shorted laminations, shorted windings or broken rotor bars. Shorted
laminations and windings will appear as "hot spots' while broken bars will produce a dynamic heat source because bowed
rotor bars produce heat which rotate with the rotor. Increasing load produces increasing current. With excessive load, the
increased current will produce excessive heat. Prolonged exposure to excessive loads will reduce the life of the insulation
system due to the increased current. According to the National Electrical Manufacturers Association on motors and
generators (NEMA publication number MG1), standard 1-12.44.1, supply voltage should be +10% of rated voltage. Due to
2 2
the strongly magnetized motor designs of today, I R losses increase as the supply voltage varies from rated voltage. I R
losses equate to excess heat. A rule of thumb is that a voltage 90% of rated corresponds to a temperature rise of 6 -7?C
[7]. Besides improper voltage magnitudes, voltage unbalance will produce heat in a motor. Studies show that the percent
increase in winding temperature is about twice the square of the percent voltage unbalance [7]. For example, if the
voltage unbalance is 3%, the winding temperature will increase by 18% (2*(3%)2=18%). Regardless o f the source
producing internal heat, the skin and outlet air temperatures of the motor will rise. However, the increase in skin and outle t
air temperatures due to small, localized faults may be difficult to detect.

As discussed above, skin and outlet air temperatures will increase as a result of external impedances restricting proper
heat dissipation, extra internal heat generation, high ambient air temperatures (>40?C) and/or high altitudes (>3300 ft). By
monitoring temperature, one is able to trend basic conditions of the motor. When skin and outlet air temperatures increase
(provided load and ambient air temperature are constant), then action to determine the source of a potential problem is

Air Outlet versus Skin Temperature

Both the air outlet and skin temperatures provide valuable information. The question of importance is whether one
measurement provides more information than the other, or are both needed to effectively evaluate the motor condition? It
is important to keep in mind that the objective is to monitor (with a portable system) as few parameters as possible without
sacrificing needed information.

Both measurements are direct reflections of inner core temperatures. Measurements of skin temperature can be easily
and quickly taken with infrared thermometers (IR) or thermocouples since the temperature is taken off of a massive
structure which is at an equilibrium temperature. On the other hand, air outlet measurements are a slower measurement
because some metal object (whether it's a thermocouple or piece of aluminum foil) must be heated by the outlet air
temperature before accurate temperatures can be recorded. Therefore, if both measurements provide basically the same
information, only skin temperatures need be taken since it is the quickest and easiest measurement.

Temperature measurements were taken on eight pulverizer motors. Each machine was running at a slightly different load
(between 81% and 92%). Temperature measurements were acquired from the inlet air, outlet air and three skin positions.
A comparison of the results is plotted in figure 1. The results show that the skin temperature consistently tracked the outlet
air temperature measurements. While the temperature values were not the same, their relative changes from motor to
motor demonstrated the same patterns. Therefore, since skin temperature measurements are easier and faster to
acquire, air outlet temperatures do not need to be taken. The remainder of this paper will address only skin
temperatures, but many of the discussions will apply to outlet air temperature measurements as well.
Figure 1. Air inlet, air outlet and skin temperatures for eight 350 HP pulverizer motors.

Each motor is running at a slightly different load.

Motor Enclosure

There are two basic groups of motor enclosures: open and totally enclosed. An open type motor as defined by NEMA "is
one having ventilating openings which permit passage of external cooling air over and around the windings of the
machine" Totally enclosed motors are defined by NEMA as "so enclosed as to prevent the free exchange of air between
the inside and the outside... Therefore, air is not directly passed over the stator windings. Instead, air is directed to flow
over the motor housing in order to remove heat. Temperature measurements from both groups of motors can provide
valuable information for trending purposes. In practice, the type of motor enclosure must be known in order to determine
what kinds of temperatures to expect. However, there are certain motor sub-classes where skin temperature
measurements are not practical, although actual stator temperature measurements can be used. Examples of such
motors are Type I and II weather protected open type motors as well as pipe-ventilated, water-cooled, water-air-cooled
and air-to-air-cooled totally enclosed machines.

( 1 National Electrical M anufacturers Association (NEM A) Standard Publication No. M G 1 -1987, M G1-1.25, part 1, p. 7.

NEM A M G 1-1987, M G 1-1.26, part 1, p. 9.)

Motor Ventilation

Regardless of the enclosure, air-cooled motors must receive an adequate supply of ventilating air to prevent windings
from overheating. In general, 100 to 125 ft3/min of air per kilowatt of energy loss is necessary [7]. As previously stated,
dirt build-up on fans, vents and motor casings is a major deterrent to proper air flow. Tracking the "cleanliness" and
volume of air flow is beneficial. Keeping the ventilation system free of debris is essential for efficient motor cooling.

Skin Temperature: Influencing Factors

Even though monitoring skin temperature is simple, certain factors can influence the reading resulting in incorrect
interpretation. Factors to be considered are effects of (1) load, (2) ambient air, (3) heat generated by the sun and (4) the
location of measurements.

Motor temperature rise is a function of bearing friction, windage, core loss, copper losses (referred to as I R losses) and
2 2
stray losses. Only stray and I R losses vary with motor load [3]. Since I R is basically dissipated power, the temperature
rise will change roughly proportional to the power dissipation. Therefore, because smaller loads require less current, less
heat is generated. Hence, larger loads result in higher temperature rises. Figure 2 displays a graph showing the change in
skin temperature for a motor at various loads. As long as the motor load required is constant, significant changes in skin
temperature would indicate a problem. However, if load were to increase, then temperature would increase even though
the motor is not experiencing problems. Therefore, when trending temperature data, the load of the motor must be
considered before inferring potential problems.
Figure 2. Effect of load on skin temperature.

Ambient air influences two aspects of motor cooling. Its major effect is on the inlet air temperature. If the inlet air is
warmer, it has less capacity for cooling the stator. As NEMA states, "abnormal deterioration of insulation may be expected
if the ambient temperature of 40C is exceeded in regular operation The ambient air temperature has a second aspect
which influences skin temperature measurements. In general, the temperature of a piece of metal will change until it
reaches ambient air temperature (provided no heat is added to the metal). If the piece of m etal is heated (i.e. motor skin),
the temperature of the metal will be warmer for higher ambient air temperatures and cooler for lower ambient air
temperatures. Therefore, when measuring skin temperature, one must be aware of the ambient air temperature. F or the
same internal heat source of a given temperature, the skin temperature will vary according to the ambient air. Thus, while
rising skin temperature generally points to potential faults, the increase temperature may be simply due to warmer
ambient air temperature.

NEM A M G 1-1987, M G 1-12.43, Note I, part 12, p. 12.)

Another influence on skin temperature is the effect of solar heating upon motors exposed to the sun's rays. For the same
ambient air temperature (temperature taken in shade) a piece of metal will be warmer in direct sun light than in the shade.
Therefore, the skin temperature for a measurement point in the shade would appear less than for a measurement point in
the sun, even though the motor itself is generating the same heat load. The color, thickness and metal properties will also
have an effect on the skin temperature measurement. This is illustrated in figure 3 which shows the temperature of
aluminum and steel for an assortment of physical states while subjected to various weather conditions. Therefore, to
avoid or reduce the affect of radiant heating by the sun for outside motors, temperature measurements should be
acquired below the horizontal center line and on the shaded side.

Figure 3. Effect of the sun's rays upon metal and aluminum plates painted different colors.

A final factor influencing skin temperature measurements is the location. In general, the warmest spots on a motor will be
where the mass is greatest and airflow is smallest. Therefore, the warmest section on motors with open enclosures is
generally in the middle; while the warmest section on totally enclosed motors is somewhere between the middle and the
end furthest from the fan (TEFC type motors). With the above generalities in mind, a 'horizontal" temperature gradient is
shaped like a bell curve where the warmest temperatures are in the middle with cooler temperatures towards the outer
ends. Temperatures will also vary about the circumference of the motor because of air flow patterns within the motor. In
addition, the distance between the stator and shell of a motor are not the same around the total circumference. The closer
the motor case is to the stator, the more reliable and repeatable the data. Because skin temperature will be different at
various locations of the motor, it is essential that measurement points be marked so trend data may be taken on
closely repeatable locations. The measurement points should also be placed where the distance between the
stator and motor case is smallest.
Measurement Practices

Many instruments are available for measuring temperature. Two measuring devices, infrared thermometers (IR) and
thermocouples are easy to use and relatively inexpensive. Temperatures can be taken with IR probes more rapidly.
However, the IR probe must acquire temperature on surfaces of known emissivity. Uncertainties regarding emissivity can
be overcome by using black tape or black spray paint (emissivity 1) on the objects to be measured.

When acquiring skin temperature measurements, many data points would be required to accurately map the entire
surface. However, in order to reduce data collection times, fewer measurements are preferred. As a compromise, three
skin temperature points are recommended. The points should be well marked, usually with paint, to eliminate error
associated with the repeatability of the location. The points should also, as discussed in the previous section, be
positioned where the motor housing is closest to the stator. For motors with box type housings, the air within th e motor will
heat the housing. Trendable data is possible since each measurement point will track the general heating and cooling
within the stator. Regardless of the shape of the motor housing, the three measurement points should be positioned over
the stator, making sure points are not outside of the stator area, over an open air space. One measurement point should
be placed in the middle with the other two on either side towards the edge of the stator area. For totally enclosed
motors, the measurement points should be placed on flat surfaces and not on the cooling fins.

A reference temperature is needed in order to calculate a relative temperature rise for the skin of the motor. Both the
ambient air and motor foot are recommended as reference temperatures. If using an IR probe, the ambient temperature
can be measured by suspending a strip of aluminum foil painted black in mid air and measuring the temperature of the
foil. If using a thermocouple, make sure enough time has elapsed so that the thermocouple junction reaches equilibrium
with the ambient air. The temperature at the motor foot or base can be measured identically to skin temperatures and
should not be influenced by the temperature of the motor body. In general, the temperature of a motor foot wi ll track the
ambient air and will often be the same as ambient air.

Alarm Limits

Since the motor skin temperature is a function of the stator temperature, ambient air temperature and load, a new thermal
parameter is desired in order to negate the effects of ambient air and load. Because the skin temperature is influenced by
the ambient air, a relative temperature can be obtain by subtracting the ambient air temperature from the measured skin
temperature. To account for changes in load, remember that t emperature rise is proportional to the power dissipated.
Therefore, to "normalize" the relative skin temperature for a load range, the new thermal parameter is defined as:

Tn = normalized thermal parameter (normalized temperature rise)

Tskin = measured motor skin temperature

Tamb = measured ambient air temperature

%load = percent full load of motor at measurement time

Now that a thermal parameter has been developed, alarm limits must be set. There are two basic alarm values to be
defined via statistics and the motor's insulation rating, respectively.

Statistical thresholds may be set for trended parameters. These alarms are set at 3 standard deviations from the mean
value. Defining an absolute alarm criteria based on insulation ratings is somewhat more difficult. Thresholds will vary
depending on the type insulation and frame. To determine a precise alarm value is impossible as the heat transfer from
stator to skin varies due to motor construction. However, a general threshold has been produced by R.A. Reed Electric
Co. [10]. Figure 4 provides alarm limit values for both totally enclosed and open motors relative to insulation type. In
general, skin temperatures greater than these thresholds indicate that the insulation temperatures exceed design values.
Based on the information in figure 4, maximum alarm limits can be produced for the normalized thermal parameter using
these skin temperature thresholds. The normalized thermal parameter threshold must be calculated based on the
ambient temperature at measurement time and assuming 100% load.
Figure 4. Maximum skin temperature threshold values.

Development of graph based on a maximum ambient air temperature of 40?C.

To illustrate how the normalized thermal parameter should be calculated and used, consider an open drip proof motor with
a "B" class insulation operating at 80% load in an ambient temperature of 30?C. The skin temperature at the center of the
motor is measured to be 80C. From figure 4, the approximated skin temperature for an open drip proof motor of class 'B"
insulation (rated winding temperature limit of 130C) is --82?C. Based on a skin temperature of 82?C, 100% load (as
defined in the previous paragraph), and ambient air at 30?C, the normalized temperature parameter threshold is 52?C n
where Cn = normalized temperature. The calculation of the normalized temperature threshold is (((82-30)/100) x100) =
52Cn. For the actual skin measurement of 80C at 80% load, the normalized thermal parameter value is 62.5Cn (calculated
as (((80-30)/80) x 100) = 62.5C,). This exceeds the alarm limit. Therefore, the winding temperature is probably above its
rated limit. Note, even though the measured skin temperature was not greater than the temperature limit displayed in
figure 4, the motor is operating too hot for the present ambient temperature and load.

Bearing Temperature

When lubrication quality changes, increased friction usually results. This produces thermal energy which increases in a
non-linear fashion. In addition, any heat generated from the motor will warm the lubrication [2]. If the heat is too great, the
thermal properties of the bearing lubrication can be exceeded and bearing degradation occurs. Therefore, not only do
bearings produce heat, but they are also affected by heat.

Obviously, the best method of measuring bearing temperature is to measure the bearing directly. However, temperature
probes are often not mounted on bearings. Therefore, the alternative is to measure bearing temperature on the bearing
housing. Provided the transmission between the housing and the bearing is satisfactory, trending bearing 'skin"
temperature is beneficial. While this method should not replace vibration analysis, it can assist in the prediction of bearin g
life and lend support for the vibration study. In addition, it may point to some faults that are missed by other methods.
When collecting temperature data on the bearing housing, the same procedural care discussed for skin temperature
measurements applies. The only difference is that known alarm limits are not as well defined. Therefore, bearing
temperature data must be trended. Data that varies 3 standard deviations from the mean is most likely showing signs of
deterioration [2].

Skin Temperature of Motor Termination Box

The motor termination box is located at the motor and houses the junction at which conductors from power lines are
connected to the supply lines of the motor. The heat generated from this junction can change due to high resistance
joints, corrosion, improper make-up of metals, water or other intrusive substances. Regardless of the cause, the skin
temperature of the termination box will ''track" the changes in temperature due to conductor junction faults.

While thermography is the best method to determine precisely where a fault occurs, trending skin temperature changes
on the termination box can indicate possible problems. The procedures for acquiring this measurement are as before:
make sure data is always taken from the same location. Take caution when termination boxes are located directly in the
sun. The sun's rays can produce high skin temperatures at the measurement point that are not indicative of internal
heating. For trended data, a threshold for the normalized thermal parameter can be alarmed for variations of 3 standard
deviations from the mean.

Magnetic Flux

AC induction motors produce magnetic flux because of small unbalances in their magnetic and/or electric circuits.
Samples of the magnetic flux can best be acquired from the axial ends of motors using a flux coil. The method of
measurement is an important issue to consider in order to obtain reliable and trendable data. A FFT taken of the flux coil
signal can be performed and the resulting spectrum analyzed for running speed, relative rotor condition, and various other
electrically-related characteristics.

The flux coil is a simple sensor made of magnetic wire wound into a coil. Normally, wire size ranges from 20 to 30 AWG.
The more turns, the larger the signal. Generally, 100 to 200 turns is sufficient. Magnet wire is used so that each turn in th e
coil is isolated from the other. The output from the sensor is a very small current signal (relative amplitude depends on the
number of turns used to make coil). A voltage signal is acquired with the input impedance of the meter functioning as a
shunt resistor.

When magnet wire is wrapped to form a coil, the resulting flux coil is fairly flexible. Therefore, the coil can be shaped to fit
in and around many odd shaped spaces. However, in order to collect repeatable and reliable flux data, consistency is a
major concern. Even though a measurement may be taken at the same place on motor, if the coil shape is significantly
different from one measurement to the next, absolute frequency amplitudes can vary. This limits the reliability of trend
data. Therefore, a formed flux coil is most desired.

Consistent placement of the flux coil on the axial outboard end of the motor is critical for obtaining reliable and trendable
data. It is important that the measurement be taken at the same location, with the same spacing between the sensor and
motor, and without swinging or twisting movement of the flux coil.

Figure 5 displays a comparison of flux coil measurements taken at three different locations on the motor. Measurement
point FRC was taken axially at the center of the bearing shield, while FOC was acquired off-center at approximately 10
o'clock. The other point, FSB, was positioned on one side of the motor and vertically centered at the outboard end. A
quick visual inspection of figure 5 reveals that all spectra have the same general frequencies but are not of the same
magnitude. One of the most notable magnitude differences occurs at 60 Hz. The associated amplitudes for measurement
points FRC, FOC AND FSB are -7.6 dB, -19.7 dB and -24.8 dB, respectively. Obviously, the position of the sensor is
important. To collect reliable and trendable data, the measurement position should be marked and data acquired
at this spot for each evaluation.

Figure 5. Comparison of flux coil data taken at different locations on a motor.

Evaluation of an experiment to determine recommended sensor placement provided the results shown in Table I. The test
was accomplished by acquiring outboard axial flux measurements from a 5 Hp motor running at various loads. Two axial
measurements were taken: one centered over the outboard bearing and the other positioned to an area off-centered from
the bearing at 3 o'clock. No measurements were taken from the side of the motor since experience has shown that the
flux signal from the side is sometimes weak (especially for totally enclosed motors).

In Table I, both the amplitude of the line frequency peak (60 Hz) and number of poles times slip frequency sideband peak
(NPxSF) for the centered flux coil measurement remain constant regardless of the load. Therefore, the difference between
line frequency and NPxSF remains constant. The amplitude of the NPxSF sidebands for the off-centered measurements
has magnitudes similar to those acquired in the centered position. Again, the magnitude is constant, regardless of lo ad.
However, the amplitude of the line frequency peaks increase with load when the flux coil measurement was taken off-
centered. Therefore, the amplitude difference between the line frequency peak and the NPxSF peak increase with load.

Table I

Flux Coil Readings Acquired at Two Locations

with the Motor Running at Various Loads

It would be desirable to know the load at which a motor is running. The load is necessary for using the normalized thermal
parameter previously discussed. To determine the load based on the line frequency amplitude of a flux measurement, the
line frequency amplitude must be known for a given load. In general, this will not be known. No generalized amplitude can
be used since different motors will produce different amounts of magnetic flux and hence different amplitudes at line
frequency. However, for trended data, a relatively good estimate of load can be calculated if the line frequency amplitude
relative to the speed of the motor is known. Therefore, based on this one experiment, it is recommended that flux
measurements be acquired axially at an off-centered position (flux coil positioned over the end-windings).

The effects of sensor proximity to the motor shell and movement are displayed in figure 6. All measurements were taken
axially and off-center at about a 2 o'clock position on the motor end shield face. The bottom spectrum taken at 13:14 was
acquired with the sensor placed properly against the motor end shield (call this the 'normal" configuration). The next
spectrum (at time 13:20) results from a measurement where the flux coil was placed on a hook which extended about 2
inches away from the motor end shield (call this the "spaced" configuration). The sensor was not allowed to move so that
the only difference between this measurement and the prior one is the distance (proximity) between the sensor and motor
end shield. The third spectrum, of the measurement taken at 13:26, reflects the effects of the flux coil resting on the hook
and twisting in a vertical axis about the hook (call this the 'twisting" configuration). Notice that this spectrum is particularly
different than the others in that large sideband 'mounds' are present. The last spectrum (time of 13:28) reflects the
frequencies produced from the flux coil swinging in a vertical plan with the pivot point at the hook (call this the 'swinging"
configuration). Notice this spectrum also displays sideband 'mounds', however, they are not as large as those produced
from the 'twisting' configuration.

Figure 6. Comparison of flux coil measurements subjected to different mounting situations.

To compare the four spectrums quantitatively, the line frequency and important left sideband frequency peaks will be
evaluated. The large sideband seen to the left of 60 Hz occurs at number of poles times slip frequency divided by 2

Table II shows a comparison between the line frequency peaks and pertinent sideband frequencies.

Table II

Comparison of Flux Coil Measurements Taken

Under Four Different Situations

To compare spectral values between the 'normal" and "spaced' configurations, see table II. Notice that the amplitude of
line frequency is more than 2 dB smaller for the normal configuration. Also, the difference between sideband and line
frequency amplitudes varies (by as much as 13.7 dB for NPxSF) for each configuration. Even though relative sideband
amplitude differences for a given configuration may not change, the sideband amplitudes will vary between configurations.
Therefore, the flux coil should be placed at the same position for every measurement.
Table II also displays the effects of poor flux coil mounting. Amplitude differences between the line frequency and
sideband peaks for the "twisting' and "swinging' configurations disagree with those of the "normal" configuration. These
results indicate that not only should measurements be acquired at a repeatable place (preferably at an off-
centered axial point) but the flux coil should be held so that sensor movement is inhibited.

The spectrum of a flux coil measurement will look similar to that shown in figure 7. One of the family of peaks occurs
generally at running speed and harmonics. In figure 7, the cursor highlights this harmonic family. These peaks may also
be accompanied by sidebands spaced by slip frequency and/or one of its multiples. Other peaks arise at running speed
sidebands (Figure 8) and slip frequency sidebands (along with associated multiples) about line frequency. Even though
peaks associated with running speed (figures 7 and 8) may not be the largest peaks within their group of peaks, they can
be utilized to arrive at the running speed. By knowing the running speed, an estimate of the load can be derived and
entered into the normalized thermal parameter as discussed previously.

Figure 7. Flux coil spectrum showing running speed sidebands about line frequency.
Figure 8. Flux coil spectrum showing running speed and harmonics.

Since the running speed can be difficult to find if the spectrum is collected with insufficient resolution or frequency range,
Table III has been constructed to summarize recommendations for frequency range and resolution for analyzing flux
signals. Note that the recommendations differ according to the number of poles in the motor.

Table III

Recommended Setup for Acquiring Magnetic Flux Data

The flux coil spectrum has been shown to provide information on rotor bar condition. While the amplitude differences may
not be the same as found from current measurements, the relative difference between line frequency and the appropriate
sideband will decrease as the rotor degrades. Figures 9 and 10 display a spectrum before and after broken rotor bars
were repaired. It should be noted at this point that an electric current measurement of this motor al so indicated broken
rotor bars. In figure 9, the line frequency amplitude is -53.94 dB and the marked sideband is down by 34.98 dB. The motor
was found to have 4 broken rotor bars. After repair, a new flux measurement was acquired as displayed in the spect rum
of figure 10. The line frequency amplitude is -55.71 dB and the marked sideband is down by 54.1 dB. This variation in
sideband difference demonstrates the ability to detect rotor problems. However, a trend of the data is necessary since no
absolute threshold values are known for flux coil measurements. It is still recommended that an electric current
measurement be made to verify broken rotor bars.
Figure 9. Flux coil spectrum showing NPSF sideband for a motor with broken rotor bars.

Figure 10. Flux coil spectrum showing sidebands, from the same motor of figure 5,

After broken rotor bars were repaired.

There are many other peaks in the flux coil spectrum yet to be explained. In fact, harmonics of line frequency and their
surrounding peaks can probably provide information for diagnostic purposes. Research must be performed to explain the
reason for all the unknowns. One thing does seem to be apparent, as electrically -related faults increase in a motor,
additional sidebands appear about running speed and line frequency peaks (provided correct measurement techniques
are employed). An example of this phenomenon is displayed in figure 11. The two spectra are the same spectra shown in
figures 9 and 10. As can be seen, the bottom spectrum has many more peaks at larger amplitudes compared to the upper
spectrum. Data for the bottom spectrum was acquired when the motor had broken rotor bars. The top spectrum was
produced from data taken after the rotor had been repaired. The overall energy for the bottom spectrum is -52.07 dB while
overall energy for the top spectra is -53.55 dB. Even though the overall spectral energy does not change significantly,
additional sidebands are very evident for the motor before the rotor bar problem was corrected.
Figure 11. Comparison of magnetic flux energy for a motor before and after a rotor repair.

Shaft Current

"Shaft current can flow in rotating machinery as a consequence of electromagnetically developed voltages in the shaft or
frame' [5]. These shaft currents are produced by circulating currents which transfer through the motor bearings in order to
complete a shaft-to-frame loop.

According to Costello [4], the four potential sources of shaft current in motors are (1) electromagnetic, (2) electrostatic, (3)
external voltages supplied to the rotor windings, and (4) magnetic dissymmetry in electrical windings. Electromagnetic
shaft voltages are produced by a rotating residual magnetic source (such as a rotor) in a magnetic housing or vice versa.
Two means of generating shaft potential from a residual magnetic source are by an axial shaft flux or axial shaft current.
Electrostatic shaft voltages are commonly generated in steam turbines. Due to wet steam sweeping the blading, the
blades acquire electrons which produce a charge resulting in a voltage. Wet gas compressors and belt driven machines
can also exhibit electrostatic voltages. External voltages supplied to the rotor windings are primarily produced by
excitation systems of DC motors. The resulting shaft voltage is usually DC and often contains rectifier pulses. Two
conditions result from voltages being generated by magnetic dissymmetry in electrical windings. The first condition is
a voltage from shaft end-to-end while the second is a flux from shaft end-to-end. The voltage situation is of the most
concern as it is more common and easily measured. In fact, all electrical machines exhibit some shaft voltage as a result
of the voltage generated from end-to-end.

Regardless of the source, shaft current can be easily measured. A measurement is made by connecting a shaft brush
between the shaft near a bearing and the frame with a short piece of low resistance conductor [5]. To measure the
current, a I ohm resistor should be placed in series with the brush and conduc tor cable.
No specific guidelines as to thresholds levels are available. IEEE standard 112-1991 [5] recommends measuring peak
voltage which is equivalent to the dc offset plus the peak amplitude of line frequency. However, the standard does not
suggest any maximum values. In the article by Costello [4], spectrum and waveform data are shown to correlate with each
of the four sources of shaft voltage. Table IV summarizes these results. In general, typical frequency values occur at dc,
running speed, line frequency and harmonics of running speed and line frequency. However, no maximum tolerances are

Because shaft currents are undesirable, allowable shaft current amplitudes should be minimal. Some experts recommend
that both the dc component and the line frequency component be below 3-5 mA. In addition, collecting trend data in

Table IV

Spectrum and Waveform Characteristics

Typical of Shaft Current Problems

Any current amplitude that deviates from the mean value by 3 or more standard deviations should be considered
excessive. Whenever, shaft currents are present, the source of circulating currents should be determined and condition of
the bearing insulation (if any) investigated.

It is important that the shaft probe make direct electrical contact along the entire circumference of the shaft.
Therefore, before acquiring shaft current measurements, it is essential to clean the shaft with a wire brush. Spots of
debris on the shaft can produce frequencies at the fundamental and harmonics of running speed which are false signals.
This occurrence can be confused with the true running speed frequencies that can result from shaft currents.


All the information discussed in this paper has been utilized by CSI to develop a proactive motor monitoring package
which includes an IR temperature probe, a formed flux coil, a shaft voltage probe and software. Data from each sensor
may be collected with a 2110/2115 via a single coiled cable. Routes can be setup in MasterTrend s o calculations and
trending can be performed with the new software. Other accessories such as a wire brush for cleaning shafts, flashlight,
scrapper, and carrying case are also available.
Temperature measurements are quick and easy to acquire. CSI recomm ends, when possible, taking temperature
measurements (see figure 12) on each bearing, at three skin locations, on the motor termination box, and at the motor
foot and/or ambient air. Note, for motors having inlets at the inboard and outboard ends, ambient temperatures need to be
taken at each end if the air is typically different by more than a few degrees.

As previously stated in this paper, measurements must be taken at the same location for trending purposes. Spray
painting a flat black spot at each measurement point location is preferred. When using CSI's 505 IR temperature probe,
made by Exergen, emissivity is not a problem. This probe adjusts so that the emissivity of the measured surface will not
affect temperature readings. Taking measurements on a black painted surface doubly insures accurate and repeatable

CSI has designed a formed flux coil. It is manufactured in two sizes with diameters of 6" and 12'. The portable coil can be
mounted to a motor via magnets or permanently mounted holding pads. A specially designed bracket for holding the flux
coil steady will attach to both the magnet and holding pad. This will insure repeatable and reliable flux data for trending
purposes. As stated in the section on flux coils, measurements should be acquired in an axial direction and off-center from
the motor bearing at a point where the coil is closest to the motor end shield. See figure 12 for a diagram illustrating the
mounting position. A measurement point should be established to acquire a spect rum according to the setups defined in
Table III.
Figure 12. Drawing of a typical motor showing the placement

and description of temperature and flux coil measurements.

CSI has also designed and now manufactures a shaft voltage probe. It has a butt on which is equivalent to the "enter" key
on the 2110/2115 vibration analyzer as well as internal electronics for boosting low level shaft current signals. Before
taking a measurement, the shaft should be wiped clean with a wire brush. To obtain a measurem ent, the shaft probe
brush should be placed on the motor shaft, making sure the rotation of the shaft is away from the person acquiring data.
Caution should also be taken not to take measurements over the shaft key -way. The measurement point for this test
should be setup to acquire a spectrum with a maximum frequency of the larger of either 5xRPM or 80 Hz at 400 lines of
resolution. A trend parameter should be established for running speed, line frequency and DC gap.

The program developed by CSI automates the evaluation of the temperature, flux and shaft current measurements. It will
take the flux measurement, determine the motor speed and calculate the normalized thermal parameters. The program
will utilize answers to two quantitative questions if so provided by the user. The questions request the person collecting
data to evaluate the relative cleanliness of and air flow through the motor. Table V summarizes the questions and
provides 4 answers for each question. The program then evaluates the parameter values from all measurements and
provides a recommendation of possible problems and necessary actions if warranted.

Table V

Qualitative Evaluation of Motor Cleanliness and Ventilation

As an example of how the program utilizes the normalized thermal parameter, consider the trend of the thermal parameter
displayed in figures 13 and 14. The data was taken on two identical boiler feedwater pump motors. Parameter values for
motor 2a are larger than those for motor 1c. Air flow into the inlets of motor 2a is much less than that of 1c. Because of
the diminished air flow, motor 2a runs hotter. The end bells of motor 2a should be checked for debris or a mechanical
problem related to the reduced air flow. Continuous operation at this temperature will degrade motor 2a faster than 1c.


By trending temperature, magnetic flux and shaft current measurements, the general condition of a motor can be
predicted. Excessive heat is the main factor responsible for shortening the life of motors. Heat mostly affects the life of the
insulation system and bearings. Therefore, trending temperature can provide early indication of premature degradation.
The magnetic flux for a given motor varies with changes in the electrical characteristics. Not only will measuring magnetic
flux indicate electrically related faults but motor speed, which can be used to calculate a relative value for load, can be
obtained from a spectrum. Ideally, electric currents in a motor shaft should be minimal. Presence of such curren ts will
cause bearings to prematurely fail. Therefore, measuring shaft currents is valuable.

The ability to measure and evaluate all of these motor condition indicators has been combined into a single proactive
motor monitoring package by CSI. The package includes an IR thermometer, a formed flux coil, a shaft current probe, and
software. The program trends parameters as well as calculates a normalized thermal parameter formulated by CSI. Based
on acquired information, the program will provide recommendations to potential problems.
Figure 13. Trend of the normalized thermal parameter

relative to the motor foot temperature (TAF). Good air flow is observed through the motor.

Figure 14. Trend of the normalized thermal parameter

relative the temperature of the motor foot. Air flow is noted to be minimal.


1. AC Motor Selection and Application Guide, General Electric Company, Fort Wayne, Indiana 46801.

2. Berry, L.D., 'How to Link Thermal and Vibration Data to Diagnose Mechanical Power Transmission
Problems', P/PM Technology, April, 1993, pp. 12-14.

3. Brancato, E.L., 'Estimation of Lifetime Expectancies of Motors', IEEE Electrical Insulation Magazine, Vol. 8, No.
3, May/June 1992.

4. Costello, M.J., "Shaft Voltages and Rotating Machinery', IEEE, Paper No. PCLC-91-13, 1991.

5. IEEE standard 112-1991, IEEE Standard Test Procedure for Polyphase Induction Motors and Generators.

6. Montsinger, V.M., 'Loading Transformers by Temperature", AIEE Trans. Vol. 32, 1913.

7. Nailen, R.L., Motors, EPRI Power Plant Electrical Reference Series, Vol. 6, 1987.

8. NEMA Standards Publication No. MG1, National Electrical Manufactures Association, NEMA MG 1-1987.

9. Obenhaus, R.E., 'Motor thermal protection minimizes downtime", in Electric Motor Manual, McGraw-Hill,
Inc. 1987, pp. 99-102.

10. R.A. Reed Electric Company, 5503 South Boyle Ave., Los Angeles, Calif. 90058.
11. Thomson, W.T., R.A. Leonard, A.J. Maine, and J. Penman, "Failure Identification of Offshore Induction
Motor Systems Using On-condition Monitoring", Proceedings of 4th National Reliability Conference, Birmingham,
UK, 1983.

12. Walker, P., "Preventing Motor Shaft-Current Bearing Failures", Plant Engineering, Oct. 4, 1990.

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