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Powering up your operations & maintenance efforts


January 10, 2012
Work Smarter, Not Faster
Electrical Troubleshooting Quiz
Replacing Cables, Part 3
NEC in the Facility
Safety

Maintenance


Work Smarter, Not Faster

The economy has put pressure on maintenance departments to be more efficient. Unfortunately, increased efficiency can easily result in decreased effectiveness, increased costs, and decreased uptime. Why is this, and what can you do about it?

At the root of this problem is the idea that maintenance efficiency means getting more done in less time. Applying the mathematical formula for efficiency to maintenance results in "leaning out" maintenance procedures so that more procedures can be completed for the same labor input. But this doesn't support the reason you have a maintenance department in the first place. It's not about getting activity done. It's about keeping equipment operating at or near its design condition so it will deliver the expected performance.

You can make maintenance more effective for the same labor input by revamping all of your procedures to emphasize predictive measurements. For best results, you may need to acquire specialized test equipment.

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Repair


Electrical Troubleshooting Quiz

One of your buildings is called "the cable morgue" because there's a cable failure every few months. You don't normally work in that building, but your boss is impressed with your troubleshooting acumen and wants you to identify potential causes and make recommendations.

You’ve already looked at the one-lines and a few other drawings. There's nothing especially troubling about the building. It's got a 4-wire 480V system and 6,000A service. In fact, it's much like the building where you work, and you don't have cable failures. Even the loads are similar, and harmonic content is moderate. What are some things you should be looking at?

Visit EC&M's website to see the answer.

Replacing Cables, Part 3

A cable failed, and you've run temporary cabling to bypass it. You want to replace this cable as soon as possible, right? Wrong. Suppose you shut down to replace that cable and an adjacent cable fails the next day. Ouch.

There is a solution. But first, what should you do if you must replace a cable that you couldn't jumper around? Typically, production is down until you replace the cable, so you get the crew mobilized and start right away.

To read more on this story, visit EC&M's website.

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Operation


NEC in the Facility

Requirements for electrical installations are noted in Art. 110. Unfortunately, many of these are overlooked or misunderstood in the typical facility.

While your electrical distributor is no doubt a valuable asset, it's not true that everything they sell is "Code-compliant" under all conditions of use. It's up to you to understand the application and judge whether the equipment is suitable. Section 110.3 lists eight factors to consider.

Sometimes, it's tempting to save money and get "creative" with the components you have on hand. However, custom modifications of an electrical component will typically void its listing and labeling for any use. A certified testing lab hasn't tested it with that particular modification. This kind of "cost savings" is prohibited by 110.3(B). If you count the labor costs, it's also likely that simply purchasing the correct component costs less than doing the modification work.

To read more on this story, visit EC&M's website.

Safety

A flammable material will burn only when the air contains a sufficient concentration of it. Not only is this an underlying principle of the Chapter 5 requirements for hazardous locations, it's a key principle to apply when working near, or with, flammable materials.

Here are some tips to follow when working around flammables:

  • If you're the one using a flammable material, read the label and the MSDS. Understand the heat limits, ventilation requirements, and PPE requirements. If the correct PPE isn't available, don't use the flammable material.
  • Don't mix flammable chemicals with other chemicals. Doing so can increase the fire hazard and/or create toxic vapors.
  • Before bringing flammables into an area, find and remove all ignition sources. This may require lockout/tagout. There's no such thing, for example, as "just a little" hexane when you bring a container of it near an ignition source.
  • If you must use a flammable solvent in a battery room, do the cleaning immediately and remove the container when done.
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