What’s a stationary engine?

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Stationary motors power equipment in a fixed location. Diesel versions are the most common, used for water pumping or electrical generation. They were used in manufacturing plants, assembly lines, and cable cars. Farms use them for irrigation pumps and power plants generate electricity.

A stationary motor is one that is mounted in a permanent location and is used to power equipment. While the first stationary engines were powered by steam, modern technology has helped make diesel versions the most common in the world. The most common use of the stationary engine today is for water pumping or focused electrical generator. Some very old manufacturing plants are still powered by a stationary motor that drives tools at different work stations throughout the plant via a system of belts and pulleys.

The stationary engine worked well for manufacturing plants due to the simplicity of the power plant. A single mechanic working on a single engine could maintain operations throughout the plant. The downside, of course, is that any engine failure would stop occurring throughout the manufacturing facility. Some of the larger plants used a system that included a backup engine to allow servicing of the prime mover without stopping production at the factory.

While companies like sawmills and grain mills used a stationary motor to power all saws, planers, drills, and augers, other well-known industry leaders used the stationary motor to power assembly lines. Henry Ford was one of the largest users of the system at his automobile assembly plants in Detroit, Michigan. Perhaps the best-known user of the stationary motor in the United States was the cable car system of San Francisco, California, which used a single power plant to operate the entire city’s cable car fleet.

Farms around the world use stationary power to run irrigation pumps. Power plants drive huge pumps that spray crops with the precious water they need to produce huge yields. Typically diesel powered, these pumps can run for long periods unattended with little concern. Large fuel tanks at the well site power the engines, while automatic timers tell the engines when to start and shut down.

Electric power is often generated with the help of a stationary motor. Many companies use this power generation system in case of power outages. Hospitals and other emergency-related operations typically use multiple backup power providers. This ensures that life saving capabilities are never interrupted. Oil wells and pipelines also use stationary power plants to operate the large pumps that maintain the flow of oil throughout the system, ensuring that the flow of oil is not interrupted.

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