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June 23, 2006 A Prism Business Media Publication Vol. II No. 12

Cast Your Vote!

Midwest Muscle

Maintaining the Motor Environment,
Part One

Electrical Troubleshooting Quiz

Prevent Replacement Motors
from Burning Up

NEC at the Facility

The Practical Implications
of OSHA 1926.407

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
    Midwest Muscle
    The Midwest region is showing signs of significant growth in project spending as compared to last year (+19%), according to marketing information resources company Industrial Information Resources (IIR). At the end of the first quarter, the company was tracking 436 projects valued at more than $11.2 billion that are scheduled to start this year. The majority of the investment ($3.4 billion) is scheduled to occur in Minnesota. Missouri follows at just more than $3.2 billion and the states of Iowa, Nebraska, and Kansas all have more than 50 projects planned to start this year.

    The industries leading this charge include industrial manufacturing, power, synthetic fuels, and oil and gas transmission. IIR reports the power industry is expected to lead all others for project activity with more than $5.3 billion scheduled this year.

    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,

    Maintaining the Motor Environment,
    Part One

    Today's motor is well designed, and it's manufactured to high standards. So motor failures are almost never due to motor deficiencies. The cause is often in the environment of the motor (another cause area is misapplication -- ambient temperature normally falls in that area).

    For maintenance purposes, we can divide the motor environment into distinct categories:

    • Power supply
    • Controls
    • Load
    • Mounting system
    To maintain the power supply, you obviously have to know what you're working with. But you don't have the resources to manually check voltages on every motor often enough. So, you must automate. For example:
    1. Use a motor monitor. You may want to watch all important variables, not just power. For example, monitor vibration and bearing temperatures.
    2. Make the motor monitor a power monitoring point, and tie it into your central power monitoring system.

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    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.

    Electrical Troubleshooting Quiz
    You have replaced half a dozen motors in the past few months. They're on different feeders, but they're on the same service panel. Your facility has multiple buildings, each with its own service. Just this building has high failure rates. How do you know if the failures are due to power supply problems, and not other issues (e.g., temperature) in that building? You may have abuses such as rapidly sequenced restarts or you may have the wrong motors for the application. Where do you start?

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

    Prevent Replacement Motors
    from Burning Up

    You want to make sure you aren't throwing another motor away due to the problem that toasted the previous one. It's smart to do this while the new motor is on its way, rather than waiting until after it's installed.

    You can check for power problems by reviewing the power monitor logs or by doing manual checks. Look for these problems:

    • Overvoltage or undervoltage. This is rarely the cause, but check it anyhow. If your nominal voltage is low at the feeder breaker (or fuse), you probably have system issues. If it's fine there but low at the load, you have power distribution issues.
    • Poor power quality. Use a power quality analyzer at the source and at the load. Repeat this with the new motor installed and not running, and then again with it running. If you have deficiencies, check your system against NEC Art. 250 Parts V, IV, VI, VII, I, and II -- in that order.
    • Voltage imbalance. This is your most likely power-related cause of premature failure. Measure each phase to ground. If the difference between the highest and lowest measurement is more than 2%, you must correct the voltage imbalance. This is what's making toast out of your motors. To locate the cause of an imbalance, start with a one-line and walk down individual circuits.

    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.
    Furnas series available: Old E Style, Vertical Lift, Innova 45, Innova Plus

    NEC at the Facility
    When a facility has heavy downtime due to electrical problems, it's a safe bet that Art. 250 violations abound. Here are some of the more common ones:
    • Lack of proper grounding [250.4(A)(1) and (2)]. If you have damaging voltage spikes, this may be why. If these spikes occur about the same time as storms in your area, schedule a test of your grounding system.
    • Lack of an effective ground-fault current path [250.4(A)(3)]. You establish this path through bonding, not through grounding. Without this path, electricity will find another way back to the source -- such as through equipment power supplies and motor bearings.
    • Load side neutral-ground bonds [250.24(A)(5)]. If you have weird waveforms, inspect every power distribution panel for a connection between neutral and ground. If it's there, remove it. Then check individual equipment -- if you measure 0V between the neutral and ground, suspect a problem.
    • Other systems not bonded [250.94]. If you are a typical homeowner, you live with this very situation. The main danger here is flashover, which is why you bond your gas pipe to your electrical service ground. In the plant, you may check the service entrances for each utility, find them correctly bonded, and assume all is well. But have you checked your communications network?
    • Enclosures not bonded [250.96]. If it's metal, bond it. Otherwise, you have differences of potential. Eliminating these differences is why you bond other systems. But you have to complete the job by bonding metallic bodies such as electrical enclosures and metallic raceways. You'll find related bonding issues addressed in 250.102 (equipment bonding jumpers) and 250.104 (bonding piping systems and structural steel).

    The Practical Implications
    of OSHA 1926.407

    This part of the OSHA regulations takes up about half a page. The corresponding part of the NEC stretches across Articles 500 through 516. Both address hazardous locations. Why the difference? Rather than spell out the details, OSHA directs you to comply with the NEC.

    The word "hazardous" has a specific meaning, here: the possibility of fire or explosion due to combustible materials. Obviously, fuels are combustible. But you may have other hazardous materials on site -- and not be aware of 1926.407 violations. This can be due to process changes or material substitutions on the one hand, and building or equipment changes on the other.

    To ensure compliance with 1926.407, obtain the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for every chemical bought for your facility. Your purchasing department may assist you.

    You'll find fire and explosion information in Section IV of each MSDS. Section VII will detail safe handling and storage. Review the applicable NEC Chapters (500 -- 517) against what you learn from the MSDS.

    Quiz Answers
    Answer to Electrical Troubleshooting Quiz
    Shorten the troubleshooting time by addressing power supply problems first. These tend to be root causes, and you may not be able to look at other problems correctly until these are out of the way. Conduct the same power supply inspection as noted above for replacement motors.

    After you fix your power supply problems, you will probably still have premature motor failure. That's because problems seldom happen in isolation. Where you have one, you usually have many. After you address power, address the other issues methodically.

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