Cast Your Vote Now!
Vacancy Rates Rise for Industrial Buildings
Electrical Troubleshooting Quiz
NEC at the Facility
The Practical Implications of OSHA 1926.405
Answer to Electrical Troubleshooting Quiz
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MRO Insider addresses topics such
Working with management and supervision
National Electrical Code® on the production floor
Safety procedures and programs
Equipment maintenance and testing tips
Managing motors and generators
Trends in training and education
Managing energy use
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The designations "National Electrical Code” and “NEC” refer to the
National Electrical Code®, which is a registered
trademark of the
National Fire Protection Association.
Product of the Year Competition
Cast Your Vote Now!
Do you want the opportunity to win $100? Then visit the
EC&M Web site by June 30 to
your vote in EC&M's Product of the Year competition and help us
to identify the best new product introduced for the electrical industry
When you visit the EC&M Product of the Year
page, an automatic poll will pop up. (Note: If you have a pop-up
blocker program, it may prevent you from seeing the poll. Temporarily
disable the program to allow the poll to appear on your computer.) You
then need to type in your contact information, choose your favorite
product, and click submit. It's that simple.
A panel of nine judges narrowed the field from 114 entrants to 24
category finalists, and now we need your help to determine the Platinum
Award winner. The competition has honored innovation and excellence in
product development in the electrical industry for the past six
Vacancy Rates Rise for Industrial
According to a Market Insight note on the Grubb & Ellis
Web site, robust construction has produced an increase in the vacancy
rate for larger industrial buildings. The report notes at the end of
first quarter there was 110 million square feet of industrial space
under construction. New construction accounted for 1.1% of this
inventory. This ratio is the highest it's been in four years. However,
vacancy rates in this sector (5.6%) remain below the national average
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A single cable failure can bring down an entire
facility. Determining the cause of a shutdown was actually a cable
fault, but locating the fault may take hours. Then while operators
helplessly wait, maintenance rushes to obtain and install new cable. If
that cable is not stocked locally, things get even dicier.
Now, imagine a different scenario. You administer a well-planned
cable testing program, and you trend test results. During the last
test, three cables showed a sharp change in the normally gentle
slope of the trend line. Using normal purchasing channels, you find the
best price on replacement cables and schedule replacement over the
holidays when production isn't running anyhow.
But don't think just in terms of downtime and costs. Cable faults
result in catastrophic destruction of an entire facility. To prevent
downtime, costs, and destruction, you must plan and execute a
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It's another one of those days when it looks like your
facility is going to set a new record for the most trouble calls in one
day. You hope the problems will magically fix themselves as they did on
previous days like this. Meanwhile, production is screaming about the
You have low voltage and a host of other problems. A critical
lost power, and the operators are telling you they can't reset the
breaker. You make a note to train operators not to touch breakers,
after this latest breakdown nightmare passes. You make that note on
paper, because your network is down.
You meet with your top guns, and everyone agrees there is obviously
root cause, or this many failures wouldn't happen on the same
One of your people says, "Well, we can rule out rain. It hasn't rained
for several days." What is the likely problem, and how should you hunt
With a cable-testing program, you will very rarely --
if ever -- see cable failure. Instead, you will see cable
deterioration -- and you repair or replace cables before they fail.
Here are some tips on replacing cables effectively:
- Determine the cause(s) of deterioration. A qualified testing
firm is an excellent resource for assistance with this. Cables do
deteriorate due to age, but don't assume that's the cause. Many things
can accelerate insulation degradation.
- Evaluate the cable for the application. Before replacing a
cable, consult your supplier with the details of the application and
a recommendation for the type of cable to use. Your application may
changed since the original installation, or a better cable may now be
- Review routing and mechanical protection. Because you'll
disturb raceways and physical cable bundling to replace an existing
cable, think carefully about how you want to put things back. For
example, you might relocate motor drive cables away from the general
feeder cable tray.
- Prepare for proper installation. When production is down,
don't have time for installation tutorials. The crew must know the
correct methods in advance. The wrong methods can cause premature
failure. Exceeding a bend radius or maximum pulling tension, for
example, reduces the life of the cable. Following the specific
installation procedure for a specialty cable may greatly extend the
of the cable.
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When we began designing the line, we certainly started at the bottom
worked our way up. The innovative TightSight display gives you a
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In tight, dark or bright locations, it's invaluable. Other features
a high voltage indicator will ensure that you've never felt safer.
a preview of the 600A and 1000A clamp meters from IDEAL.
NEC at the Facility
An overcurrent protection device (OCPD) must have an
enclosure to protect it. Article 240, Part III addresses OCPD enclosure
requirements. But these are for protecting the OCPD, not for protecting
people operating it. You must go beyond Article 240, Part III to have a
safe enclosure installation.
A common problem is an enclosure installed without adequate room on
the right-hand side. For example, the panel is too close to a corner.
This forces you to stand in front of the enclosure to operate the OCPD
(which, presumably, you do with the left hand). When are breakers most
likely to explode? When they're being operated. Where do you want to be
when that happens? Not in front of the breaker, that's for sure.
Install OCPD enclosures so people can operate the OCPDs without
standing directly in the blast path. Manufacturers are excellent
of advice, anytime you add OCPDs or an enclosure.
The Practical Implications of OSHA
You may have heard, "We aren't required to follow the
NEC inside our facility." This may be somewhat true if the Authority
Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) granted exceptions for the installation of
conductors and equipment [90.2(C)]. However, OSHA puts those
requirements right back in place. The reason is very simple. NEC
requirements -- based on the laws of physics -- attempt to answer
the question, "How do we protect people and property?" OSHA attempts to
Thus, OSHA 1926.405 poses requirements you also find in NEC Chapter
3. Consequently, violations of Chapter 3 wiring methods can result in
far more than a fine from the local AHJ. OSHA fines are possible. But
is personal criminal liability, in the event of a tragedy.
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Answer to Electrical
The fact this is occurring on such a wide scale in so
many systems indicates there is a root cause. The most likely cause is
cable insulation deterioration. The observation that "it hasn't rained
for several days" is a good clue -- you had rain just a few days ago.
This means rainwater had time to make its way into raceways and form a
conductive path between the cable insulation and ground.
Under dry conditions, the leakage from the cable goes unnoticed. But
when water enters the raceway, that leakage increases dramatically --
you get low voltage and other symptoms. The leaking electricity boils
off the water, causing these problems to "magically" disappear until
next incursion of water.
To fix this, you start with a one-line diagram of your facility and
thoroughly test all of the cables in each drill-down from your
If you test just "major" cables, you may not increase uptime because
another cable failure will still shut you down. However, you'll need to
weigh that consideration against the possibility of a catastrophic
fault at the service or feeder level. A qualified testing firm can help
you develop the best approach for your situation.
See our tips for cable replacement, above. As you replace bad
carefully examine the installation for ways to reduce water incursion.
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