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The Hidden Costs of Intermittent Servo Motor Failures

The Hidden Costs of Intermittent Servo Motor Failures

Servo motor downtime


It happens to all of us.  We take our automobile in for a repair and that rattle or engine problem magically disappears. We may not look forward to spending our hard earned money on the repair, but the assurance of a repaired vehicle certainly beats leaving the shop without knowing when or where the problem is going to reoccur and leave us stranded. 

The same holds true for equipment on the manufacturing floor. While servo motor failures are a problem whenever they occur, a consistently non-functional servo motor is easier to identify compared to issues that seem to come and go.

Intermittent failures are a source of frustration and financial strain for industries relying on precision and reliability in their operations. While the initial impact of a servo motor failure is evident in downtime and repair costs, less obvious costs can be more detrimental and far-reaching. 

Read: Servo Motors and Factory Downtime: What’s the Connection?

Some of the most common hidden costs of intermittent servo motor failures include: 

  • Decreased productivity
  • Reduced quality
  • Higher labor costs for maintenance
  • Excessive energy consumption
  • Accelerated wear and tear of equipment
  • Increased safety risks 

So, what should manufacturers know about these hidden costs, and what steps can they take to help mitigate these issues? Keep reading on!

Servo Failure and Productivity

One of the primary costs of intermittent servo motor failures is the impact on overall productivity. Unlike a complete system shutdown resulting from a catastrophic failure, intermittent failures can cause sporadic disruptions. 

While these disruptions may seem minor initially, the cumulative effect on productivity is undeniable and can be significant over time. Unplanned downtime, even in short bursts, disrupts production schedules, leads to missed deadlines, and affects the overall efficiency of operations.

The Effect of Intermittent Servo Motor Failure on Quality

Product quality is another often overlooked area where hidden costs can accumulate. Erratic servo motor performance may result in manufacturing process variations leading to defective products. Even slight disparities can result in rejects and rework in industries where precision is crucial, such as aerospace or medical device manufacturing. 

The costs associated with scrapping defective products, product recalls, and excessive warranty claims not only impact the bottom line but also damage the reputation of the company which can lead to dissatisfied customers and lost contracts.

Intermittent Servo Motor Failure and Maintenance

Maintenance costs are often underestimated when dealing with intermittent servo motor failures. Identifying the root cause of sporadic issues can be a time-consuming and labor-intensive process. 

Maintenance personnel may spend hours troubleshooting and diagnosing problems, leading to increased labor costs. 

Moreover, the need for frequent maintenance interventions to address intermittent failures can contribute to a higher frequency of scheduled maintenance, reducing the overall availability of the equipment. We covered this more in our blog post, 12 Steps to Reduce Servo Motor Repair Costs.

Intermittent Servo Motor Failure and Energy Consumption

Excessive energy consumption is another hidden cost associated with intermittent servo motor failures. An inefficiently operating servo motor may draw more power than necessary during active periods. This increased energy consumption not only leads to higher utility bills but also contributes to the carbon footprint of the operation. In an era where sustainability is a growing concern, the environmental impact of energy inefficiencies cannot be ignored.

Intermittent Servo Motor Failure and Capital Equipment

The impact of servo motor failures extends beyond the servo itself to affect the performance and lifespan of the entire system. Repeated stress and strain resulting from intermittent failures can accelerate wear and tear on components, leading to a shortened lifespan of not only the servo motors but the machinery it powers.

The premature failure of equipment due to intermittent issues necessitates more frequent replacements, adding to capital expenditure and lifecycle costs.

Intermittent Servo Motor Failure and Safety

Servo motor failures pose risks to worker safety. Sudden disruptions or malfunctions can create hazardous conditions, potentially leading to accidents and injuries. The costs associated with workplace injuries, including medical expenses, legal liabilities, higher insurance rates, and potential regulatory fines, add to the hidden costs of intermittent failures.

How to Mitigate the Costs of Intermittent Servo Failure

Following the manufacturer’s regular maintenance schedule is a proven way to prevent intermittent servo motor failure.  Preventive maintenance is vital for optimal performance and longevity. It prevents costly breakdowns, reduces unscheduled downtime, and ensures consistent production output.  Proper maintenance also enhances safety by identifying and addressing potential hazards. Ultimately, it maximizes efficiency, minimizes operational disruptions, and safeguards the longevity of the motor.

We recommend taking advantage of planned downtime to inspect the servo motor for a build up of dirt, grease, or any obstructions that may inhibit airflow around the system.

Read: 8 Tips for Troubleshooting Servo Motor Problems

Similarly, proper training, along with the right tools to test and diagnose the servo motor, will allow maintenance personnel to recognize if they are capable of making any needed repairs, or if repairs should be outsourced. Training relative these tools will also allow your staff to test servo motors returning from the repair shop. Validating that all issues were resolved satisfactorly prior to putting the servo back into service is an important step.


Implementation of advanced testing equipment for Servo motor test systems from Mitchell Electronics, Inc. allows manufacturers and repair shops to diagnose servo motor performance issues.  In this way, problems can be detected and corrected before being allowed to propagate.

Be Prepared with Proper Servo Motor Maintenance

Reliability is critical for manufacturers and other industries that rely on the performance of their equipment. From productivity losses and quality issues to increased maintenance, energy consumption, and safety risks, the impact of intermittent failures extends across various facets of industrial operations. 

Taking proactive steps to implement preventive measures and investing in reliable, high-quality equipment can help businesses mitigate these hidden costs and ensure the long-term efficiency and sustainability of their operations. Similarly, servo motor test systems from Mitchell Electronics, Inc. provide the technology to identify and correct even intermittent performance issues.