Huge Drop Off in Planned Maintenance
Blamed on Auto Industry
Overall planned expenditures on maintenance work for
fourth quarter of 2006 were down 25% compared to 2005. In the same
quarter last year, approximately 80 maintenance projects worth $236
million were planned in the U.S. industrial manufacturing industry,
according to marketing information resources company Industrial
Information Resources (IIR). Although more maintenance projects are
planned for the fourth quarter of this year (almost 100), overall
spending has dropped to $175 million.
"This decline in maintenance spending for the winter of 2006 can be
laid squarely at the feet of the flailing American automotive
says IIR. "The American automakers and their suppliers ... are toning
down the spending associated with these maintenance programs by
performing only what is truly necessary to keep their respective plants
It's interesting to note that the foreign automotive assembly
companies and their suppliers are not showing this same restraint. This
group continues to spend whatever is needed as it has in the past.
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Maintaining Batteries, Part
Knowledge is power, but what happens if the power goes
out? For information systems and other critical processes, the answer
usually depends on the maintenance program for stationary batteries.
Maintenance for stationary batteries shares some requirements with
that of lift truck batteries (covered in the previous issue). For
example, electrolyte levels are critical, and technicians need proper
training on specific procedures.
But there are significant differences in purposes, operating
environments, and loads. But most importantly, the consequences of
maintenance failures are far greater for stationary batteries.
You may be able to schedule around losing an hour of lift truck use
due to a battery failure -- thus minimizing the economic impact to
nearly nothing. But lose the load in a credit card processing facility,
and you may be looking at millions of dollars in losses.
To ensure your stationary battery maintenance program doesn't set
up for failure, you must evaluate your program and fix the
To do it right, you must divide the job up into discrete areas of
concern. Then, focus on each area so you can address it thoroughly. A
haphazard approach will leave you vulnerable.
A consulting engineer who works in a given area of specialty can
you identify the weaknesses and how to fix them. Begin with these:
Battery monitoring. Understand what to do with the
information the monitor provides.
Battery inspections. If you don't know how to read jar
sediment, hire someone who does.
Post and connector maintenance. If your maintenance team
can't list five post and connector items to inspect regularly, consider
outsourcing your battery maintenance.
Venting equipment. Company executives like to talk about
"exploding sales." They don't like to talk about exploding battery
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You've discovered that some battery strings take much
longer to recharge than others after a discharge. All of the batteries
Why would this difference exist, and what are the implications?
- The same model, size, and age.
- Charged at the same rate.
- Equally maintained.
The answer to this question appears at the end of this
Replacing Weak Battery
Because stationary batteries are expensive, some owners
have a "replace upon failure" policy. This policy saves money at great
cost -- the labor cost of replacing individual jars is far greater
than that of replacing an entire weak string.
Yes, if you have a single jar that is cracked or is far weaker than
the other jars in the string, it makes sense to replace that one jar.
But normally, every jar in the string has undergone the same problems
and you save money (not to mention potential downtime) by replacing the
entire string. If you're unsure, have an expert look at the following
and then give you recommendations:
A safe and cost-effective battery string change requires good planning.
You're going to be disconnecting a great deal of hardware. As part of
your planning, note which hardware you should replace while the system
is down anyhow. Don't forget the support infrastructure, such as fire
protection systems and ventilation equipment.
- Internal resistance measurement history.
- Discharge history.
- Load test history.
- Plate color, deposits, and other items that reveal the health of
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In tight, dark or bright locations, it's invaluable. Other features
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NEC at the Facility
How can you navigate those seemingly confusing tables
310.16 through 210.20? This is much simpler than it looks at first
glance. You have only two conductor materials to consider: aluminum and
copper. Thus, the real differences are in the applied voltage,
installation, and insulation.
Find the 310.16-310.20 table(s) that:
Once you find the correct 310.16 -- 310.20 table, you must select the
correct column. Normally, this is the 90°F column (see 310.15 for
details). Find the ampacity for the size conductor you are using, then
apply the correction factors that appear in the bottom of the
- Match the voltage level of the application. The header text just
above the table gives the voltage.
- Match the number of conductors and description of installation.
information follows the voltage in the header text.
- Include the conductor insulation type that matches that of the
conductor you are using. This information is in the heading row of each
table, and normally you will use the information in the 90°F
of that heading row.
The Practical Implications of OSHA
If you've seen photos of stationary battery rooms after
an explosion, as shown in the photo (left), you have an idea of just
stationary battery storage is. OSHA also recognizes this,
- Good ventilation for the room, so gases don't accumulate.
- A means of preventing the escape of gases into other
Replacement Carbon Brushes
Repco supplies OEM and its own brand of replacement carbon brushes for
all industrial motors and generators. Common applications for these
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Show & Events
The EC&M E-Tradeshow
will feature three FREE webinars on September 20.
Please e-mail your webinar attendance notice to John DeDad.
- "Ten Trends That Will Shape the Electrical Market," presented by
Lucy, chief editor of Electrical Wholesaling magazine. Learn the
latest trends in the distribution market and how they can affect your
business and the bottom line.
- "Power Cable Basics," presented by John DeDad, senior director,
editorial and EC&M development. Learn why an MV power cable is a
complex and sophisticated product requiring careful testing and
handling. Find out how the current-carrying conductor, laminated
dielectric, MV insulation, semiconductive shield, metallic shield, and
outer jacket work together to control electrical stress and provide
mechanical protection. Also, learn about hi-potential and dissipation
- "Hioki 3196 Quickstart Training," a hands-on webinar by PowerCET,
will show you how to use the VIEW screen (waveform, vector and DMM
displays) to rapidly identify real-time power quality problems and the
AUTO SETUP for quick monitor installation. You'll also learn how to
create custom setups to capture more meaningful data, identify power
quality problems using the 3196's simultaneous capture of power quality
and energy data, and use Hioki PC-based software with a compact flash
card reader to transfer stored data and perform additional
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