Expert Advice July/August 2014

By staff

One of the most important components found in many lab production machines is the spindle motor. These are found in generators, polishing machines, and edging machines, and they come in various sizes and rpm ratings but there are some very basic rules for care and maintenance that apply to most, if not all of them. Follow these rules when handling your spindle motors and you   will maximize their effective lifetime.

First, it is important to be aware of the temperature of the unit as it relates to ambient temperature. If you are replacing a unit that has been shipped to you during cold weather, be sure to allow the unit to reach room temperature prior to installing it or powering it up. A motor that is too cold can cause encoder errors (giving   the impression the unit is faulty) as well as significant bearing damage. Once at room temperature, a “run up” is recommended: run the spindle at 25 percent of its rated rpm for 20 to 30 minutes, to allow it to settle in. This is also recommended as a daily start-up procedure for labs in cold weather climates.

A secondary challenge with temperatures that are too low, and one that may not be immediately recognized, is the formation of internal rust due to condensation. This can be caused by running a spindle motor that has not been properly acclimated but it can also come from the system itself. If the motor is cooled by an external chilling system, it is important to keep the cooling liquid at or near room temperature. Once again, over-cooling the motor will cause condensation, which encourages the formation of rust on internal parts.

Obviously, allowing the unit to reach excessive internal temperatures is harmful as well. If the system is cooled by an external system, make sure it is in proper working order and that regular maintenance   is performed on that unit as well. Regularly clean air intake filters and condenser coils and ensure the coolant liquid is maintained per manufacturer’s specifications. If the system does not come with a temperature read out and flow meter, install them where they can be easily monitored by maintenance personnel. It is also a good practice to check the external temperature of the unit at least once per shift by simply placing your hand on the nose of the spindle—it should be warm to the touch but never hot.

Last but not least, if the spindle requires compressed air to protect bearings or maintain positive air pressure, make sure the supply meets the recommended specification for cleanliness and presence of moisture. Dirty shop air is the enemy of most machines in the lab, but none more so than those that employ a spindle motor. Ian Gregg, Satisloh


There could not be two words more closely aligned and synergistic as to the outcome of a surfaced and finished lens than “maintenance and calibration”. Today’s lab environment is overlaid with the daily pressures of getting the work out quickly, correctly, and with as minimal interruption as   possible. There is nothing that can throw off the daily regimen of lab work than a down or out   of sync performing machine.

Most equipment manufacturers have maintenance practices for their offerings. When adhered to in a regimented manner with either manual or automated calibration techniques, these practices will give any lab a high 90’s percentile of “on the mark” Rx eyewear. That’s the practical reality. But when you introduce the daily floor dynamics of a typical medium-to-high volume lab, it becomes easy to overlook the service manuals and onsite training which stress equipment “production health and wellness” for long term production.   Rather than 8+ hours of seamless operation, the infrequent to semi-frequent red light of a signal tower can beckon to maintenance or operating personnel to “come get me back online and running.”

In recent years, equipment manufacturers and their customers have engaged in much more serious dialogue as to peak operational performance programs. These include preventative maintenance visits, advanced training, and leveraging continuously updated “video FAQ’s” in Website-based libraries (such as the one Santinelli International offers) for best practices of maintenance and calibration. Embracing all elements of technology, such as smart-phone   and online tutorials, has made general maintenance and   calibration a more worthy and streamlined process for vendor and customer alike. Steve Swalgen, Santinelli International

15 minutes a day – that’s all it takes to keep your machines properly maintained and calibrated. Think about it; you   know that your employee’s have the time needed to   make sure that you are keeping those expensive machines   in tip top shape.   Just like going to the gym or other items on the old to do list, maintenance is one of those things   that always seems to get pushed to the side in favor   of other more pressing tasks. I   bet if we were having a discussion about the replacement cost of your spindle motor being   several thousand dollars and I shared that it’s a preventable   expense by spending 15 minutes (combined!) at the start   and end of each shift cleaning and wiping the machine down along with a light manual and visual inspection, you would   agree to putting such a program in place. So, why not now—before you have to spend thousands on costly repairs and down time—establish a daily, weekly and monthly process   with checklists and accountability to ensure your equipment is   properly maintained. Schneider offers extensive maintenance training both on-site and at our training center in our Dallas area HQ to ensure that we help you keep your equipment in tip top shape. On average, labs that execute 100 percent of the recommended standard wear parts replacement will spend   less than half on yearly repairs than those doing 50 percent of the PMs. For those without a maintenance staff, Schneider can provide our technicians to perform these services   on a quarterly and annual basis helping make certain   that your machines are properly maintained. Kevin Cross, Schneider Optical


Labtalk June 2020