February 24, 2006 A Prism Business Media Publication Vol. II No. 4



CONTENTS
Industrial Project Spending in the Great Lakes Region

Emergency Lighting

Plant Air

Electrical Troubleshooting Quiz

Plant Air Motor Replacement

NEC on the Production Floor

The Practical Implications of OSHA 1926.301

Answer to Electrical Troubleshooting Quiz



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About This Newsletter
This twice-a-month
e-newsletter is brought to you from the publisher of EC&M magazine.

MRO Insider addresses topics such as:

  • Working with management and supervision
  • National Electrical Code® on the production floor
  • Safety procedures and programs
  • Troubleshooting techniques
  • Equipment maintenance and testing tips
  • Managing motors and generators
  • Trends in training and education
  • Managing energy use


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    Project Watch
    Industrial Project Spending
    in the Great Lakes Region

    Capital and maintenance spending in America's manufacturing heartland should meet, or exceed, 2005 expenditure levels, according to marketing information resources company Industrial Information Resources (IIR). Ohio and Illinois are considered the big money states in this region. IIR is currently tracking more than 190 active projects worth in excess of $9.6 billion in Illinois and more than 200 active projects worth in excess of $8.5 billion in Ohio. On the other hand, Michigan and Kentucky are showing slight spending decreases -- mainly due to project cancellations in the power industry sector. IIR reports that since 2001, there have been 17 power-related projects, ranging from proposed grass root plants to expansions and modifications at existing plants, worth more than $4.4 billion, that were scheduled to begin construction this year that have either been put on hold or cancelled.


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    Maintenance
    Emergency Lighting
    Your insurer probably requires your facility to have emergency lighting that complies with NFPA 101 (Life Safety Code). This standard requires emergency lights to activate if you lose power (which would presumably shut down normal lighting).

    With a distributed emergency lighting scheme, the individual units are battery operated. If you have such units, you must regularly test them. Look at the manufacturer's recommendations, and adjust your PM system accordingly.

    With a centrally power emergency lighting scheme, you don't have the hassle of all that battery testing and maintenance. Such a system typically powers the lights from a transfer switch -- the other source of power is typically a UPS or generator. This brings design issues into question (for example, will the generator kick in on a feeder failure?), but our focus here is maintenance.

    You must ensure your emergency lights work upon loss of main power. Rodents, corrosion, and other factors can defeat these lights, even when the alternate power source (e.g., generator, batteries) is intact. Follow the manufacturer's recommendations, but adjust for the environment. In the friendly environment of an office (emergency lighting is typically integrated into the regular ceiling lighting system), maintenance is minimal. But where the lights are "standalone" or are in a harsh environment, maintenance needs increase.

    Plant Air
    Plant air systems are critical in many facilities. Maintenance involves far more than replacing worn hoses and fixing reported air leaks. Commonly overlooked areas for improvement include:

    • Actively inspecting for air leaks, using leak detection fluids and/or sonic leak detectors. The benefit of this practice is reduced air consumption, which, in turn, reduces load on the compressor motor and moisture in the system.
    • Vibration inspection of motor and compressor (the compressor is the motor load), using vibration analyzers and vibration monitoring. The benefit is extended motor life and reduced energy costs.
    • Power monitoring for voltage imbalance and low voltage at the motor. The benefit is reduced energy costs and avoidance of premature motor failure.
    • Automatic lubricators. If your pneumatic tools operate from your plant air, they likely have automatic lubricators that run on the same supply. Ensure these are clean and have the correct lubricant for the application. Following this practice eliminates a common cause of failure.


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    Repair
    Electrical Troubleshooting Quiz
    You have an emergency lighting system that runs from generator power. The generator kicked in, but the lights failed to operate during a recent power outage. What are the initial steps you should take to fix this problem?

    The answer to this question appears at the end of this newsletter.

    Plant Air Motor Replacement
    These motors are typically 200 hp or greater, so they are expensive, heavy, and difficult to remove and replace. They are also part of a critical system. So the last thing you want is to finish the repair and replacement work, only to find the new motor is defective. To prevent that, have the motor balanced before it's shipped.

    When the motor arrives:

    • Test the rotor for shipping damage by manually rotating the shaft.
    • Perform an insulation resistance test. This provides baseline data for PM, but also provides a quick pre-installation check.
    Be sure to align the motor to its load and mounting pad before energizing it. Failure to do so may result in damage to the motor and other equipment upon energization. For a motor this large, use laser alignment. Take care not to overtighten the mounting bolts, or you'll warp the motor feet and induce vibration.



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    Operation
    NEC on the Production Floor
    A common misperception on the factory floor is that NEC Article 220 calculations are neither necessary nor binding. This misperception arises for a number of reasons -- none of which account for the basic physics of electricity.

    When you calculate conductor sizes per Article 220, you satisfy the minimums for safety. But those sizes may prove insufficient for reliability or efficiency, and they restrict your ability to expand or upgrade. You may exceed Article 220 requirements to optimize performance and flexibility, but you must meet Article 220 requirements to prevent disaster.

    The Practical Implications
    of OSHA 1926.301

    Worn tools just aren't safe. In fact, OSHA regulations prohibit a company from allowing employees to use them. Employees who won't tolerate flawed company tools often fail to see the flaws in their personally owned tools.

    Good tradespeople tend to treat their tools with near reverence. How can you part with that electrician's knife your dad gave you when you got your journeyman's license, just because the handle is "a bit worn?" And you simply don't notice that the knurls on your ratchet handle are now worn nearly smooth. Sure, you'll replace a broken tool. But replacing "old trusty" just because it's a bit worn seems somehow disloyal.

    Compounding the problem, supervisors are often hesitant to enforce 1926.301 for personal tools.

    How can you get past these mental barriers, so you can do your job safely and efficiently? One way is to form a buddy system. You and a coworker agree to inspect each other's hand tools on -- for example -- the third Friday of each month. Agree ahead of time that whatever one buddy says about the other's tools is binding, and you'll replace worn tools without argument.


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    Quiz Answers
    Answer to Electrical Troubleshooting Quiz First, determine if this system ever worked. If so, determine when it last worked and what has changed since then. If the answer is no (or if you're unsure), use the "divide and conquer" strategy to isolate the cause. Be sure to make lockouts/tagouts where needed.
    1. Start by inspecting and testing the transfer switch -- while these switches are extraordinarily reliable, a failure is possible. Most likely, though, you will find the problem by checking the connections and wiring interconnections.
    2. Next, disconnect the load (lights) from the transfer switch and provide temporary power to the lights from that location. If the lights work, the problem is on the transfer switch supply side. If the generator puts out, the problem is between the generator and the transfer switch. If the lights don't work, the problem is between the transfer switch and the load -- look for a cause common to all the lights, such as a circuit breaker.
    3. Continue the process of "divide and conquer" until you isolate the problem.


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    Copyright 2006, Prism Business Media. All rights reserved. This article is protected by United States copyright and other intellectual property laws and may not be reproduced, rewritten, distributed, re-disseminated, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast, directly or indirectly, in any medium without the prior written permission of Prism Business Media.