In our previous issue, we raised the issue of knowing
what’s normal for the batteries of your backup or emergency power
system. You begin that process by taking baseline data. By “baseline
data,” we mean a set of measurements that shows the initial condition
each battery and battery string. These measurements become the basis
condition trending and alarming.
At the very least, take initial measurements of any quantity your
battery monitor is capable of monitoring. These include “as
installed” (e.g., internal resistance) and “post startup” (e.g.,
jar temperature). Go beyond electrical measurements by recording visual
inspection information and taking “as-installed” photos.
To read more on this story, visit EC&M's website.
Fluke 62 Mini digital thermometer is the perfect introduction to
infrared (IR) thermometers. It’s compact and portable for technicians
to diagnose HVAC problems and monitor the temperature of electrical
motors and panels without contact. Rugged enough for industrial
environments with its protective rubber “boot” and handy nylon belt
holster to take quick temperature reads.
You just left a meeting with the plant manager and the
controller. They reviewed year-over-year costs with you, using bar
graphs generated by the accounting software. For 2010, the category
"Replacement Purchases, Admin Areas” is six times larger than it was
in 2008. A breakout materials list shows most of this went to new
electronic ballasts. The plant manager remarked that this was puzzling,
because a contractor had been hired in 2009 to do extensive electrical
PM work in the administrative areas precisely to lower these
kinds of costs.
This project had been commissioned and overseen by the corporate
You had no hand in it, but now your boss wants you to figure out
what’s wrong. Where should you start?
to see the answer.
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If electronic loads have been failing frequently, you can
probably find the root cause at the distribution panel(s) supplying
First, trace the problems to their common point of supply — the last
(electrically closest to the load) panel common to the affected
equipment. You should look for:
Check the bonding against NEC Art. 250, Part V requirements after
reviewing the definitions of grounding and bonding in Art. 100. Don’t
“retorque” connections, as this actually degrades connections.
Instead, use a thermal imaging camera to look for hot spots. Don’t
tighten the connection and call that a repair. Ask yourself why that
connection is loose in the first place. Probably, the fasteners do not
clamp properly and thus need replacement.
- Power issues: Voltage,
current, and harmonics.
- Physical issues: Connection integrity and bonding
In our next issue, we'll focus on power issues.
Is the dreaded “Code violation” really that bad? Many
people seem not to think so. You’ve probably heard stories like the
one about the frustrated electrical engineer who compiled a list of
dozens of Code violations but couldn’t get the funds to fix
Managers who believe NEC compliance is merely “a nice goal”
may be in for a rude awakening when they arrive at the facility to
their workday, only to find it’s been shut down by the sheriff or
other authority. The AHJ is required to issue a written warning [80.23]
but isn’t required to allow you sufficient time to fix the problems
a cost-effective manner. If the problems are egregious, the insurer may
suspend coverage (effectively forcing a shutdown) until its inspector
reports the violations have been fixed.
Letting Code violations stew until you get written notice from the AHJ
is bad, simply because the facility isn’t safe. If management
doesn’t find this sufficiently motivating, the law provides other
incentives. For example, the AHJ’s notice will likely include a
compliance deadline. Each day that the deadline is missed counts as a
new violation [80.23(B)(1), with each carrying separate and additional
In our previous issue, we provided tips to help you safely
perform tasks that involve chemicals. Here are a few more to take note
- Always read the material safety data sheet (MSDS) before
using opening a new supply or
container of a chemical, even if you’ve used that chemical before.
MSDS may have been updated to provide new safety information based on
changes to the chemical, changes to the container, or new user data
since the last MSDS was produced.
- If the MSDS has an inhalation warning, check for adequate
ventilation before commencing work. An open door isn’t necessarily
adequate. You may need fans to establish a minimum required airflow.
- The MSDS may require or recommend specific PPE. Note that this
doesn’t mean “if readily available.”
- Where the MSDS provides ventilation and PPE requirements,
are meant to work in conjunction. The recommended PPE is inadequate if
you don’t also meet the ventilation requirements.