For the Love of Food and Drink
Maintaining Batteries, Part Three
Electrical Troubleshooting Quiz
Replacing Battery Room Instrumentation
OSHA in a Nutshell
NEC at the Facility
Answer to Electrical Troubleshooting Quiz
Carolina Facilities Expo
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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
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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.
For the Love of Food and
Proposed capital expenditures in the U.S. Food and
Beverage industry that will begin construction in the fourth quarter of
2006 sit at $2.786 billion, according to marketing information
company Industrial Information Resources (IIR). Currently, IIR is
tracking 75 active projects, each with a total investment value ranging
from $1 million to $359 million. The expenditures are concentrated in
the Midwest and Great Lakes regions.
Projects in the Midwest region include a $260 million wet corn
milling plant in Iowa, expansion of a soybean oil mill in Missouri, and
a new canola oil refinery. Total expenditures for this region are
projected to be $764 million. Projects in the Great Lakes region
a $359 million Nestle USA beverage plant and distribution center.
Are You a Survivor?
AutomationDirect's popular mascot, Smiley, is shipwrecked on an
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Maintaining Batteries, Part
Thanks mostly to the efforts of the automotive industry
to sell "maintenance-free" batteries, bean counters and decision-makers
tend to think stationary batteries should be "maintenance-free." With
any stationary battery, proper maintenance costs money. But maintenance
money can appear to be a waste when "maintenance-free" valve-regulated
lead acid (VRLA) batteries are available.
These batteries are "no maintenance," in a sense -- but not in the
sense many people think. You do not get the same battery life and
performance, while "saving" the cost of maintaining the battery. You
less life and performance because the battery design reduces the amount
of maintenance you can do. Unfortunately, there's a tendency to
not do any maintenance for VRLA batteries -- and then blame
manufacturer when these batteries fail prematurely.
VRLA batteries have their place, but you don't save money by
selecting them over flooded cell batteries and then not maintaining
them. In fact, the added maintenance tasks possible with flooded cell
batteries usually make them more cost-effective. Base your
on the application, not on incorrect cost notions.
Another misconception is that VRLA batteries don't produce gas and,
therefore, don't require ventilation. All stationary batteries produce
gas. When VRLA batteries vent, they may exhaust considerable gas into
the room. With rack-mounted VRLA systems, the normal ventilation of the
server room is usually sufficient -- be sure to verify this. But
stick VRLAs in an unvented room and assume that's safe. It isn't.
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This case history was provided by Ed Rafter, president
of Tier IV Group, Lee's Summit, Mo.
In one particular facility, technicians must wear personal hazardous
gas detectors. During a shift walkthrough of the battery room, a
technician's gas detector went into alarm, registering high levels of
carbon monoxide (CO).
Following up on this, a senior technician used a handheld gas
detector to perform a cursory survey of the battery room. The handheld
device confirmed high levels of CO, with extremely high levels near the
Maintenance techs, alarmed by the high gas levels, refused to enter the
battery room. If they continued to stay out, the result would be a loss
of load due to lack of battery maintenance. So, the problem urgently
needed resolution. Where would you begin?
- The battery room has sufficient ventilation and the required room
- No other gas alarms were noted (e.g., hydrogen detector
The answer to this question appears at the end of this
Replacing Battery Room
Today's instruments and monitoring devices are
but they can still fail. When a device fails, don't rush into
replacement. Instead, step back and look at your entire MRO system.
at how you can use the information provided by the monitoring device or
For example, the existing fire detection system in your battery room
has several problems, and clearly needs replacement. But also, it
doesn't interface with your data network -- so now would be a good
time to upgrade to a system that does. Consider what follow-up action
would be most useful. Do you want the ability to send an alert via
e-mail, pager, and text messaging? Do you want any automated control
Implementing these things may require additional cabling or
(such as a PLC or managed switch). You may not be able to implement
every desired function now, but consider upgrading to replacement
equipment that will allow you to do so later.
Exclusive TightSight Display helps set a new standard for clamp
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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.
OSHA in a Nutshell
OSHA regulations are highly prescriptive. If you go to
the OSHA Website, you'll see the body
regulations (29CFR) consists of more than four dozen Parts -- some of
which are huge. How can you possibly remember all of this? And what if
an OSHA regulation doesn't exist to address a particular danger?
The intent of OSHA is to provide the answer to two questions:
1. What are the hazards?
2. What must I do to protect myself and others?
If you will ask those two questions and follow up with good answers
before starting any task, you will fulfill the intent of OSHA. Don't
expect rules, guides, and procedures to anticipate every possible
and tell you exactly how to work safely.
NEC at the Facility
Sometimes, strictly following the NEC can work against
you. An example of this is the NEC doesn't require you to count the
neutral conductors as current-carrying conductors when applying the
ampacity tables [310.15(B)(4)(a)]. Someone fixated on installation
can read "shall not be required" to mean "get by with not doing." But
from an engineering standpoint, it may be prudent to count those
conductors as current-carrying conductors if there is substantial
So, is the NEC wrong not to require this? No. The NEC is not a
specification [90.1(C)]. It provides the minimum standards for a safe
design. Making that design efficient -- and therefore, cost-effective
over its life -- is up to the design engineer.
Replacement Carbon Brushes
Repco supplies OEM and its own brand of replacement carbon brushes for
all industrial motors and generators. Common applications for these
integral and fractional horsepower brushes are process mills, power
plants and general industrial. Large inventory and application help. www.repcoinc.com
Answer to Electrical
The gas detectors were incorrectly reporting high
of CO. This is more common than most people assume. We've seen many
cases where a CO detector registered an alarm and reported erroneous
high levels. The problem is the detector may detect hydrogen but "see"
it as CO.
There is a cross-sensitivity between these gas detection meters. For
example, consider a hydrogen sensor that has a 0.1 carbon monoxide
cross-sensitivity. On this device, 100 parts-per-million (ppm) CO would
register a 10 ppm reading on the H2 sensor. On the flip side, if you
a CO sensor installed in the unit, 100 ppm H2 would register as 10 ppm
Of course, you can avoid such problems by not buying cheap gas
meters, right? Well, that helps -- but it doesn't prevent problems.
That senior technician was using a $1,600 piece of equipment.
You can expect much greater cross-sensitivity in handheld equipment.
So, yes, spend the money for good equipment. But don't assume that
solves cross-sensitivity problems and other measurement issues.
The only way to validate the levels of gases accurately is to use a
precision piece of analysis equipment such as a gas chromatography
instrument. This is impractical for the typical facility. A better
approach is to understand the cross-sensitivity issues involved with a
particular detector and apply the correct measurement techniques. Then,
look for equipment problems that may account for high amounts of any of
the gases the detector may register.
Don't abandon battery maintenance due to these kinds of errors.
down and resolve the actual problems, understanding that what appears
be a high concentration of a suffocating gas might actually be a high
concentration of an explosive gas. The safety practices for each gas
Show & Events
Held October 3-4 at the Palmetto Expo Center in
Greenville, S.C., the Carolina Facilities Expo is a free two-day trade
show, offering an exhibition of products and services along with
educational seminars for facilities personnel working in all types of
industries, including commercial, industrial, educational, government,
health care, hotel and resort, distribution, and warehousing.
A few sessions in the conference track that may be of particular
interest to EC&M readers include: "Critical Success Factors for
Maintenance Improvement Projects," presented by John Barker, director
client assessments, Operations and Maintenance, Fluor Corp.; "Saving
Lighting Energy Using Digital Lighting Control," by Chris Stork,
Lighting Controls and Design; "Understanding the NFPA 70E Electrical
Safety in the Workplace' Standard," by Mike Bivens, president, Best
Infrared Services, Inc.; "Energy Savings Performance Contracting --
Benefits for Your Facility," by Bob Starling, Bob Starling and
Associates, Inc.; and "Increasing the Performance Levels of Electrical
Power Distribution Systems through PM and Power Audits," by Hemant
Manglorkar, Nationwide Electrical Testing, Inc.
For more information on this show, visit the event's Web
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