April 10, 2006 A Prism Business Media Publication Vol. II No. 7



CONTENTS
Heavy Hitters in Industrial
Project Spending


HVAC Spring Maintenance

Electrical Troubleshooting Quiz

HVAC Replacement

NEC at the Facility

The Practical Implications of OSHA 1926.403, Part 2

Answer to Electrical Troubleshooting Quiz



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This twice-a-month
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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
    Heavy Hitters in Industrial
    Project Spending

    A recent analysis of active capital and maintenance projects scheduled to begin construction this year in the United States reveals more than 4,590 industrial projects totaling approximately $177 billion, according to marketing information resources company Industrial Information Resources (IIR). Last year, the region saw 53 plants start up operation. Planned project spending is up 2% as compared to 2005. A closer look at a few of the heavy hitter states uncovered the following trends:
    • Texas -- With 427 projects under development, totaling $18 billion, Texas retains its position as the top state for planned industrial project spending. Although the expenditure level in 2006 remains relatively flat, as compared with 2005, there are some large shifts within industries. The power and terminals industries will see an increase in spending from fewer projects, while the chemical processing and petroleum refining industries will experience significant reductions from 2005.
    • California -- California is home to more than 2,100 major industrial plants and ranks second behind Texas among the top 20 states in industrial spending. However, analysis of planned capital and maintenance projects scheduled to begin construction this year (232 projects worth $12 billion) reveals a 20% decline from its 2005 level. This decrease is mainly attributed to a large drop in project spending and activity in the industrial manufacturing and power industries. The large drop in spending in these industries outweighs the increases in the oil & gas transmission, food & beverage, and metals & minerals industries.
    • Ohio -- Ohio has been a big spender the last few years. Projections for this year point to another solid year, with more than 200 capital and maintenance projects on the books worth more than $8.5 billion. The power industry leads the pack (35 active projects), followed by chemical processing (34 projects), metals & minerals (32 projects), and pharmaceutical-biotech (8 projects).

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    Maintenance
    HVAC Spring Maintenance
    Summer will be here soon -- and so will the push for air conditioning. But don't wait until HVAC units break down in sweltering heat to work on them. It's much better -- and cheaper -- to maintain them now than to repair them later. At a minimum, you should:
    • Conduct visual inspections. Check the electrical contacts, wiring, connections, raceways, controllers, switches, and mounting hardware. Now is the time to address winter corrosion, rodent damage, and failure causes.
    • Clean and inspect the condenser coils. If you don't have a condenser fin comb, buy one. This handy tool allows you to straighten bent-over fins that block airflow.
    • Test the motors. Perform insulation resistance testing on all HVAC motors. Beat the lead time crunch for replacement motors by doing this now. Consider having a motor repair shop inspect motors for critical units -- and perform needed repairs.
    • Perform refrigerant maintenance. Have a certified HVAC tech examine the refrigerant levels and add as needed. This is a good time to look for, and repair, leaks. You may even find it necessary to replace the entire unit. Waiting until July is a bad idea.
    • Inspect and repair ductwork. Check everything from the roof curbings to the minor distribution points, wherever accessible. Fixing leaks in the distribution system can have the same effect as adding another entire unit -- but at a fraction of the cost.

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    Repair
    Electrical Troubleshooting Quiz
    In the middle of summer, at least one HVAC motor drops out on overload every afternoon. Suspecting damaged winding insulation, you have pulled and inspected the motors. But there's nothing wrong with them. What could be causing these mysterious dropouts?

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

    HVAC Replacement
    Properly replacing HVAC units is not as straightforward as many people think. Non-technical managers may demand additional units or upsizing existing units. Not so fast...

    Adding units raises these concerns:

    • Adequate roof structure to support the weight. Requires architectural analysis.
    • Adequate electrical infrastructure to support the load. Requires electrical analysis.
    • Design and installation of new ductwork, and engineered modification of existing ductwork to properly distribute the additional capacity. Requires a specialist.
    Upsizing is a losing proposition that will probably result in less cooling capacity than if you stayed with the original-sized unit. Here are some of the factors that come into play:
    • Mismatch of unit footprint to existing roof curbing. When you replace same-size units, you may need to reconfigure the roof curbing due to shape changes. But when you upsize a unit, you funnel a larger volume into a smaller volume. This damages airflow dynamics, creates system backpressure, and increases the load on the motor.
    • Violation of weight limits. A larger unit weighs more. A correct architectural analysis might nix the upsizing.
    • Inadequate electrical infrastructure. Larger units have larger motors. Where will you get the supply power from? How much it will cost? If you need a larger service, this could be a very expensive upgrade.
    In our next issue, we'll look at how to improve cooling without upsizing your units.



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    Operation
    NEC at the Facility
    Article 230 addresses electrical services. This is obviously not a daily topic for maintenance or repair teams. But any problem here will affect the entire service area. The consequences of service issues can include facility-wide shutdowns, fire, and personal injury. Flagrant violations can result in destruction of the entire facility and any nearby buildings.

    Article 230 consists of seven parts, each addressing a specific subtopic. Part I supplies the general requirements. One of the major concerns here is conductor clearances. While these clearances may have been correct when your facility was built, subsequent modification could mean you are out of compliance. Take some time to review Article 230, Part I, and correct any violations. Contact the electric utility about how to best proceed in measuring those clearances and making any needed repairs -- only qualified personnel should do this work.

    The Practical Implications of OSHA 1926.403, Part 2
    When it comes time to settle a personal injury suit, you don't want to be guilty of not following OSHA and NEC requirements in the selection and use of equipment. Violations also give insurers a defense against paying on claims. And, of course, you don't want someone injured to begin with. What are some common mistakes?

    • Permanent portable cords. It may be convenient to string cords overhead to supply power to equipment, but when you start affixing those cords to surfaces and making them permanent, you are violating both OSHA rules and NEC requirements.
    • Questionable mounting. OSHA is weak on the details here, but manufacturers' instructions and standard industry practices are clear on how to mount transformers, lights, panels, and other equipment. Mount equipment so it's secure. In an earthquake zone, more stringent requirements apply.
    • Poor cooling. Stacking things in front of a transformer vent might seem like a smart way to maximize revenue per square foot, but it creates a fire hazard. It may also reduce the efficiency and lifespan of the transformer.
    • Poor identification. This is more of a problem than most people realize. First responders have difficulty identifying the power source for a given room, area, or piece of equipment -- thereby frustrating their efforts. This same situation also increases downtime by frustrating maintenance and repair operations on a daily basis.


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    Quiz Answers
    Answer to Electrical Troubleshooting Quiz
    The problem is not electrical at all. It's in the controls -- specifically relating to thermostats accessible to occupants. Most people don't understand that a thermostat is a switch. Moving the setting to maximum doesn't bring more cooling. Instead, it causes the unit to run constantly. When this happens, the condenser coils ice up, and the unit can no longer "breathe." The motor keeps drawing more current, until it trips its overloads. You have to wait for the condenser ice to melt before the unit can again provide cooling capacity.

    Note: You get a similar effect when you upsize a unit and try to mate the new unit to the smaller ductwork provided for the original unit.


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