Gearmotor Lead Time Guide- Work Arounds for PD Pump Long Lead Times
As we’ve mentioned a few times before, every Waukesha PD pump needs a few things- usually a base, a gearmotor, and possibly a VFD. A few weeks ago, we did a deep dive on bases. Today, as we continue to work through the supply chain challenges we’re all facing, we’ll give you some tips and tricks to help you manage what’s likely driving your PD pump delivery- gearmotors.
Whenever the going gets tough, I try to KISS- keep it simple stupid. For 95% of PD pump applications we see, a premium efficient, white washdown duty motor from most domestic manufacturers will work just fine. For manufacturers who deal in this space, this is largely a “standard” offering. Depending on the manufacturer, that should give you about 6:1 turndown on your VFD and is suitable for most environments we see in the food and pharmaceutical manufacturing space.
When we start getting away from a “standard” offering like this, that’s when the lead times go out the window. XP? Inverter rated? Special paint color? Forget about it- you’re talking 15-20 weeks before you can even start expediting. While we understand that each application is different and sometimes certain features or classifications are required, here are two examples of what can happen when a motor is “over classified”.
We were recently dealing with an engineering firm who requested a Class I Division 1 motor for a PD pump assembly. Class I Division 1 motors are for environments where explosive or flammable gases and liquids exist under normal, everyday operating conditions. Lead time for this particular motor was 20 weeks- which would knock the project completely offtrack. While we’re not electrical or safety engineers, we did know enough about the end user to have the confidence to ask if the motor really needed to be Class I Div 1. Turns out, the safety engineer advised that the environment was only Class I Div 2. A motor with that rating was in stock and able to keep the project on schedule.
A second recent project involved a gear motor specified with a space heater. Occasionally, motors will be specified with a space heater to prevent condensation from accumulating in the motor. Having supplied dozens of PD pump assemblies to this end user, we’d never supplied a gearmotor with a space heater before, so this seemed like an unusual request. Not only did this extend the time it took to issue a quote, but the motor lead time came back at 30 weeks. With that in hand, the engineering firm dug into it and it turns out the space heater was not required, but part of a boiler plate specification. We reverted back to the standard type motors we’d historically supplied this end user and kept the project on track.
As we talked about here, Waukesha’s Integral Speed Reducers (ISRs) eliminate the gear box entirely. While Waukesha PD pumps w/ ISR carry longer lead times than standard Waukesha PD pumps, because Waukesha PD pumps are built in Delavan and don’t float over on a ship, we’ve seen better lead times on pumps w/ ISRs than pumps that require traditional gear units. PD pumps with ISRs still require a motor, but lead times on stand alone motors seem to be improving and can generally be had off the shelf.
One other trick we’ve been using with a handful of customers, especially on existing installs, is to “slot” the pump base. By slotting the pump base, we can move the gearmotor back and forth on the base. This helps us avoid being locked in to a specific manufacturer or gearbox. With all of the supply chain challenges, flexibility is key.
We recently did this for 2 separate end users with pumps in service. The units these manufacturers were using were about 20 weeks out. Approximate replacements could be had in 3 and modifying the base only took an additional week, allowing them to eliminate risk being down for an extended period of time. In both cases, the end user left the existing replacements on order and will have them available as spares down the line.
Awareness & Active Management
More than anything, it’s important to know that on April 8th, 2022, gearmotors are often critical path item on a PD pump assembly. While we enjoyed pre-pandemic lead times of 7-10 days- those days are long gone. And if you were using a “Just In Time” Methodology for sourcing gearmotors, now probably just isn’t the time for that.
So instead of blaming vendors and pointing fingers, understand that delivery is a challenge and be as proactive as possible in planning for it. Weekly meetings are a simple project management tool Triplex uses to review larger projects to understand the critical path, keep eyes on long lead times, and hold everyone accountable.
While these tips and tricks may not help you for a project you currently in the thick of, we don’t see the supply chain issues resolving any time soon, so keep these tips and tricks in mind for upcoming projects. Make sure you aren’t over specifying your motor. Consider using an ISR- not only will you eliminate the gearbox, you’ll also save space. Slotted bases can also provide flexibility and open up additional manufacturers. And above all else, be aware of these lead times and plan for them. And finally, if you have any questions about your sanitary PD Pump assembly, contact a Triplex Sales Engineer today!