Fire Detection Systems
Whether you have just a few individually mounted smoke
alarms or a networked fire detection system, you don't have reliable
fire detection without routine testing and maintenance.
If your facility uses the same individual units found in residential
applications, you already know to regularly replace the battery and
the "test" button. But what if you have a more sophisticated system?
Maybe it's one that initiates area-specific fire suppression,
specific zones on a central display, automatically notifies the fire
department and first responders at their personal phone numbers. You
need to do more than replace a battery and push a "test" button. You
must perform a detailed maintenance procedure coordinated with your
first responders and your fire department.
Consider outsourcing this to a firm that specializes in such
maintenance. These firms conduct the tests more efficiently than the
typical in-house maintenance staff can.
Fire Protection Systems
Every commercial and industrial facility has portable
fire extinguishers. These extinguishers have inspection frequencies,
each inspection has an expiration date. If you don't have a process in
place to ensure your extinguishers are current, they probably aren't.
But few facilities rely on just portable extinguishers. Most
facilities rely on a sprinkler system for automated fire suppression.
Not only could a sprinkler fail to operate when needed, but it could
also fail such that it operates in the absence of fire. Neither outcome
is acceptable. While it's a good idea to operationally test fire
it should go without saying that it's generally a bad idea to
operationally test sprinkler systems. What to do: Perform regular
inspection and maintenance. Unless your staff is knowledgeable on
sprinkler systems and fire water supply systems, outsource this task.
You may also have a fire suppression system. The typical system is
fed by bottles containing an extinguishing agent. Maintenance requires
more than just checking the pressure gauges on the bottles. These
systems have both active and passive components that require timely
inspection and testing.
AutomationDirect's new C-more touch
panel is available in 6, 8, 10, 12 or 15-inch versions. Equipped with
analog touch screen that eliminates defined touch cell boundaries,
C-more's configuration software allows objects to be placed, scaled and
overlapped without limitation. Advanced capabilities include built-in
e-mail client, FTP and web servers. www.automationdirect.com/photoelectric
Electrical Troubleshooting Quiz
In the administrative offices, all of the desktop
computers occasionally reboot at the same time. This has been going on
for several weeks. What are the initial steps you should take to fix
this annoying problem?
The answer to this question appears at the end of this
Production equipment without a data connection is
unthinkable -- today just about everything is networked. The typical
response when there's a network failure is to locate the responsible
hardware and replace it. Yes, if a surge zaps a router or a lift truck
operator snags a load on those overhead data cables, replacing the
damaged parts gets you up and running again.
But increasingly, firmware is an issue -- mostly due to
compatibility issues with other upgrades (some of which you do not
control, such as those performed by your telco or other provider). Pay
special attention to routers, firewalls, and data switches. If your
network is down anyhow due to a hardware issue, see if the firmware is
current on all devices. There's typically an IP-based interface for
doing this. Sometimes an update requires resetting the device, so take
advantage of the downtime window to accomplish that. If you've been
trying to track down an intermittent problem, you may find the firmware
update eliminates it.
Decontactors are a combination plug & receptacle and disconnect
switch. They allow electrical equipment to be safely and easily
disconnected and connected - up to 60 hp or 200A. Since there is no
access to live parts workers can change out a motor without having to
'suit-up'. Inquire about our free trial program.
Meltric Corporation, call 800-433-7642, www.Meltric.com
Practical Implications of OSHA
This standard provides specific requirements for
guarding and securing equipment so it's safe to operate. But what do
these requirements really mean?
When someone loses a finger to production equipment, the cause is
nearly always a missing guard or defeated guarding device. In a typical
scenario, the contacts of a particular switch must be closed for the
machine to operate. But suppose the switch goes out of alignment or
fails, or the wiring breaks (simulating an open switch). The employee
has almost met quota for the day, so decides to "jimmy" the switch and
continue making parts. The immediate problem is gone, so there's no
report or repair of the malfunction -- or the bypass.
Months later, an employee pulls that hand back a bit too slowly, and
watches a finger disappear. Post-incident inspection reveals an
undocumented bypass of a safety switch.
Another employee gets dragged into gears after a pant leg snags on a
drive chain. The chain cover had fallen off, but nobody wanted to shut
the line down to re-attach it.
If equipment isn't safe, take it out of service until you can make
safe. Besides the obvious human empathy issues, the legal implications
can be daunting for the company and for individuals who ignored the
NEC on the Production Floor
Feeder circuits bring power to distribution
transformers, which then supply power to branch circuit panels. They
also may supply power to large equipment, such as plant air
At the feeder level, you have higher fault current than at the branch
level. Consequently, the cost and downtime of a feeder problem is
potentially much greater than that of a branch circuit problem. Thus,
meeting the requirements of Article 215 is an important part of
continued production. In some cases, exceeding some of those
requirements may be advisable.
Example 1. Per 215.4, you could run a common neutral between
separate feeder circuits. But if those circuits supply high harmonic
loads, the common neutral may be inadequate for the current that could
be imposed on it.
Example 2. Per 215.6, you must supply a grounding (here, the
NEC means bonding rather than earthing) means and connect the grounding
(bonding) conductors of the branch circuits to it. In critical
facilities, there is at least one additional bonding means for every
SureTest® Circuit Tracer Takes
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levels of precision and performance. The innovative, super-bright
SwivelDisplay®; rotates the reading for the user. In
addition, the exclusive displayed numeric value (0-99) and variable
tone/pitch audible maximizes the ease-of-use when identifying breakers,
tracing wires and finding opens/shorts. For more information on our
circuit tracer kits, visit www.testersandmeters.com.
Business Confidence Index
Pointing to Expansion, But...
The National Electrical Manufacturers Association
Electroindustry Business Confidence Index for current North American
conditions continued to signal expansion in January. Registering a
reading of 55.2 points, the index topped the 50-point threshold for the
33rd month in a row. However, the index has declined in each of the
four months, which suggests that conditions have moderated since
reaching a near-term peak in the late summer of 2005.
The index is considered a barometer of business confidence in the
electroindustry and is based on the results of a monthly survey of
senior managers at NEMA member companies.
For a complete summary of the January 2006 index, including charts
and a list of participating companies, visit www.nema.org.
for Motor Starters & Contactors
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Answer to Electrical Troubleshooting
Look for the causes that are common to that office. One
common issue that jumps out immediately is time. Because this has been
going on for several weeks, think about what's different now compared
several weeks ago? Here are some possibilities:
A power analyzer is a great tool to help you troubleshoot this
situation. But you'll also have to do some detective work. Talk to
people, and try to pin down what is going on when these reboots occur.
You should also ask neighboring facility managers about any changes
have made in the past several weeks -- or if they are experiencing
similar problems with the same timing factor.
- New copying machine or laser printer
- Copying machine or laser printer now on UPS
- Uncoordinated application of point of use UPS units
- Additional loads on central UPS
- Recabling that has introduced "two grounds" though failure to bond
network cabling grounding system to electrical supply grounding
- Nearby facility on the same substation transformer changed its load
characteristics, severely affecting your power quality
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