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June 9, 2006 A Prism Business Media Publication Vol. II No. 11

Cast Your Vote!

Mississippi Rising

Power Monitoring

Electrical Troubleshooting Quiz

Tracing Power Events to Their Source

NEC at the Facility

The Practical Implications of OSHA 1926.406

Answer to Electrical Troubleshooting Quiz


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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    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!
    Do you want the opportunity to win $100? Then visit the EC&M Web site by June 30 to cast 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 in 2005.

    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 years.

    AutomationDirect's new
    C-more touch panel is available in 6-, 8-, 10-, 12- or 15-inch versions. Equipped with an 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.

    Project Watch
    Mississippi Rising
    We all know that post hurricane Katrina rebuilding efforts have pumped a lot of rebuilding dollars into the Gulf Coast market, but don't forget about the traditional planned expenditures in this area. There is currently more than $2.4 billion in greenfield plant construction, expansion, and maintenance-related projects on tap in Mississippi alone, according to marketing information resources company Industrial Information Resources (IIR).

    Mississippi is home to more than 650 operational industrial plants. Industrial-scale construction projects got off to a strong start this year with site work at SeverCorr's $700 million steel mini-mill. The plant is scheduled to come online in 2008. Construction kickoff on a $140 million engineered wood manufacturing plant will push spending in the pulp, paper and wood industry to $205 million. And IIR projects expenditures of $577 million in capital and maintenance from 41 projects in the industrial manufacturing industry.

    Power Monitoring
    A power monitor is more than just a great forensics tool. You get a huge return on investment if you use a power monitoring system as a predictive maintenance tool. A well-thought-out monitoring system, as opposed to a single-point-only monitor, looks at all of the important power points in your facility.

    The monitoring system can show trends, such as growing voltage imbalances or increasing levels of harmonics. It's particularly useful to set the monitor to alert you for specific events. Doing so can help prevent unscheduled downtime. For example, have the system alert you when there's been a voltage spike of X magnitude (X being determined via engineering review). A single such spike may not cause problems.

    But suppose you get an X magnitude or larger spike every time certain equipment starts. Over time, the cumulative conductor insulation damage will cause failure. It's a fundamental law of electricity that the failure will happen either the day before your vacation or just before your performance review.

    The monitor can make you aware of the spike and can track recurrences. Armed with that information, you can determine the source. Your next step is preventive repair.

    For Quick Motor

    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,

    Electrical Troubleshooting Quiz
    Reviewing your power monitoring logs for the past six months, you notice an odd trend that coincided with an uptick in equipment troubles. Voltage levels in some production areas are significantly lower in the morning than in the afternoon. But operations are identical during the two times, and there is no equipment start-up -- nor is this a facility-wide issue. Even more interesting, the problem seemed to clear up all on its own last month, after -- along with the equipment trouble rate -- steadily improving over the preceding two months. Yet, you've had no configuration changes.

    How can you determine what this was, so you can stop it from coming back?

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

    Tracing Power Events to Their Source
    Nothing is more frustrating than seeing a problem but being unable to do anything about it. For example, your power monitor reveals a consistent pattern of high-energy power spikes. You are looking forward to the Fourth of July, but you don't want to see fireworks in June -- and you certainly don't want to generate them via a cable fault. How can you find the power event source so you can repair it?

    Power quality experts use a methodical approach and standardized techniques that, while logical and effective, are fairly elaborate. For a thorough analysis and solution, you should apply those techniques. However, event correlation (one technique from their repertoire) may allow you to troubleshoot quickly.

    With event correlation, you note when each power anomaly occurred. Then, you compare the times to operations. You may find, for example, there's a shift change coincidental with each anomaly.

    But what if the anomalies occur seemingly at random? Things may not be random, after all. Talk to individual operators, reviewing when each anomaly occurred. Each anomaly may have coincided with some operational procedure such as a batch change or random operation of a large scrap grinder.

    Exclusive TightSight Display Helps Set a New Standard for Clamp Meters.
    They're packed with features and like nothing you've ever seen before. When we began designing the line, we certainly started at the bottom and worked our way up. The innovative TightSight display gives you a level of testing freedom and safety beyond any test tool on the market. In tight, dark or bright locations, it's invaluable. Other features like a high voltage indicator will ensure that you've never felt safer. Visit for a preview of the 600A and 1000A clamp meters from IDEAL.

    NEC at the Facility
    Art. 250 is (arguably) the most commonly misapplied Article of the NEC. A major reason for misapplication is the NEC's confusing use of "grounding" to mean "bonding." In Art. 100, we see that "grounding" means "connected to the earth". But "bonding" involves establishing a conductive path back to the source. NEC Figure 250.4 shows bonding (Part V) tied to six of the nine Parts of Article 250. This has serious implications for any facility.

    For example, suppose you are experiencing motor failure, and post-mortem examination shows severe pitting in the bearings. This is almost surely due to "grounding" used in place of bonding. If you drive a ground rod next to the motor instead of bonding the "ground" connection to the main bonding jumper, you have provided a high-impedance path back to the source.

    Electricity follows all paths before it. Current flows in inverse proportion to the resistances of those paths. Without the correct bonding, you create a preferred return path right through the motor bearings. Consequently, your "grounding" results in pitted bearings and premature motor failure. Providing a low-impedance path via bonding will dramatically reduce current flow through the bearings. To prove this, draw out the circuit (with possible return paths) and apply Kirchoff's Law.

    The Practical Implications
    of OSHA 1926.406

    This addresses safety issues for cranes, elevators, escalators, welders, and x-ray machines. The goals are basically to prevent personal contact with energized conductors and to prevent accidental operation of the equipment.

    At the core of achieving these goals is the disconnecting means. Look closely at each disconnect in your facility. Is it readily accessible? During the original installation, the definition of "readily" might have been stretched. For example, a disconnect mounted such that a person cannot stand to the right of it and operate it with the left hand is not readily accessible. Other requirements also apply to disconnects -- be sure your installation complies.

    Replacement Contacts for Motor Starters & Contactors
    Quality, low-cost electrical contacts for industrial motor starters & contactors. Repco replacements for Allen-Bradley, ABB, Clark, Cutler-Hammer, Furnas, GE, Hubbell, Siemens, Square D & Westinghouse.
    Square D series available: Current & Obsolete Devices, Class 7004

    Quiz Answers
    Answer to Electrical Troubleshooting Quiz
    Notice the timing. This is now June. Six months ago, you were in the dead of winter. Things began to improve as the weather began warming. The problem "cleared up on its own" in May. So, this is probably temperature-related. However, the low voltage is isolated to specific areas in the facility.

    Your next troubleshooting step is to ask individual production people if their work area was too cold in winter. If so, they probably were using personal space heaters. A clue here is the morning versus afternoon voltage levels. Personal space heater use tends to be heavier in the mornings. If company policy forbids personal heaters, that doesn't mean people weren't using them. Previous complaints about a comfort problem may have fallen on deaf ears.

    Try to solve the root problem by adjusting the make-up air. You may need to repair or upgrade your existing HVAC controls to do this. Also, examine your power distribution to ensure convenience receptacles don't (eventually) share the production equipment feeder.

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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.