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December 27, 2006 A Prism Business Media Publication Vol. II No. 24

Midwinter Boosts to Summer Maintenance

Electrical Troubleshooting Quiz

Planning for Repairs

NEC at the Facility

Combating OSHA Fines

It's Time to Hit the Beach

Answer to Electrical Troubleshooting Quiz


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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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    Midwinter Boosts to Summer Maintenance
    It may seem counterintuitive, but winter provides many opportunities to reduce summer maintenance costs and summer cooling bills. Some pointers to consider include:
    • Most facilities use less far electricity in the winter than they do in the summer, because the summer cooling load is absent. Power quality tends to improve, because the nonlinear compressor loads are also absent. If you had power anomalies last summer, take baseline power quality measurements now. Having this information during high demand periods will shorten troubleshooting and facilitate system optimization because you've isolated hot weather-related variables. Using the full ability of a power analyzer will provide you with a robust data set. If you don't have a power analyzer, this single use will probably justify the purchase.
    • Inspect electrical rooms and enclosures for winter animal nests. Animals evicted from other sites may have moved to yours. If nests are present, contact your local animal control office for instructions on how to safely and humanely relocate the animals.
    • Use infrared to look for air leakage around windows, doors, and other openings. With the higher temperature differential that winter provides between indoors and outdoors, these should stand out more clearly than in summer.
    • Cold weather reveals make-up air imbalances. Most systems today are automated and adjust the air mixture per programmable parameters. Visit various spaces at different times to see how well the system is maintaining control. The correct solution may be hardware, not a parameter change -- so investigate imbalances carefully before deciding on a course of action.
    • Plan ahead for spring and summer maintenance projects. Identify training deficiencies while there is time to correct them, order long-lead time parts, review maintenance procedures against maintenance reports, and generally tune up your maintenance processes. If you're a plant engineer, review lawn care contracts before spring demand hits.
    Be careful: winter testing can also work against you. For example, some firms offer "winter rates" for HVAC maintenance during the slow winter months. Some testing may severely damage some equipment. Check the specs on your HVAC equipment to determine the minimum recommended temperature of operation. If, for example, a compressor operates below its minimum operating temperature, the oil will not circulate -- and the unit will be irreversibly damaged. If it subsequently fails on the first hot day, you may not be able to replace it until well into the cooling season.

    Watch one to 30 minute video tutorials on a variety of industrial control topics covering product categories including PLCs, operator interfaces, software, sensors, motor control, drives and motors, and more. Updated periodically, this new learning site offers videos covering products and general information about automation and control.

    Electrical Troubleshooting Quiz
    Over the past several years, several 10-hp motors have failed on conveyor systems throughout the plant. The problem is almost always the same: bearing failure. The motors are sized correctly, and there are no jarring loads on the conveyor. Operators report that the motors seem to shake loose, even with the instruction in the PM procedure to check the mounting hardware. What is the most likely problem?

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

    Planning for Repairs
    Looking into next year, do you expect the number of repairs to increase, decrease, or be about the same? More specifically, do you expect to be doing the same repairs on the same equipment next year as you did this year?

    Here's a way to prevent "déjà vu all over again" for repairs:

    1. Identify the three most common repairs done on each of your three most repaired pieces of equipment.
    2. Contact the manufacturers of each piece of equipment, and discuss these repairs with them. Ask them for suggestions on how to reduce or eliminate these problems in the future.
    That reduces the volume of repairs. To reduce the cost of repairs (in terms of lost revenue), repeat this process for your three most critical pieces of equipment.

    Another important step in reducing repair repetition is to pay close attention to the people doing the repairs:

    • They often have insight. Ask them to share it. Sometimes, a seemingly minor change in parts, materials, or procedure can eliminate a persistent problem.
    • Their methods may be the problem. Have someone research the correct way to perform a given repair, and then compare that to the method(s) being used.

    A Better Way to Connect Electrical Equipment
    Decontactors are a UL rated plug, receptacle and disconnect switch in one device. With Decontactors installed electrical equipment quickly can be quickly connected or disconnected - up to 60hp, 200A. NFPA 70E and NEC code compliance is simplified because a safety shutter prevents unintentional access to live parts and 100 kA short circuit ratings protect users in fault conditions. Click below to learn more and to request literature or a free sample.

    NEC at the Facility
    If you install a gang receptacle with a deep receptacle box behind it, you can reduce installation costs by putting your splices for another switch in that box, right? Probably not. You can't use an enclosure for a switch or overcurrent protective device as a junction box that way unless conductors fill the wiring space at a maximum of 40% -- and the splices fill the wiring space at a maximum of 75% (at any cross-section) [312.8].

    Combating OSHA Fines
    One key to preventing OSHA fines is to know what OSHA inspectors look for. Like any federal agency, OSHA operates on the basis of rules -- and paperwork that shows compliance with those rules. A safety program that focuses on engaging managers in eliminating unsafe acts in an informal manner will dramatically reduce the likelihood of accidents. What it won't do is produce the necessary documentation trail. This is why one popular program developed by a major chemical company makes use of checklist cards (turned in on a regular schedule) for the managers. If you aren't documenting your safety actions, those actions will probably be invisible to OSHA inspectors.

    Show & Events
    It's Time to Hit the Beach
    If it's your job to make sure all systems are "go," you need to go to Electric West. This show and conference offers the right information and product mix to meet all of your information needs. Do you maintain and operate electrical systems in a facility? If so, you have to make plans to attend the Electric West conference program next year in Long Beach, Calif. Check out this event's 40+ seminars in the areas of power quality, safety, Code changes, and industrial applications, and make plans to meet 200+ leading suppliers. Or register now.

    Quiz Answers
    Answer to Electrical Troubleshooting Quiz
    People who aren't trained in fastener application and maintenance usually interpret "check the mounting hardware" as "turn the bolts tighter." This produces two results for motors:
    1. Bends the motor foot, throwing off the mounting geometry.
    2. Stretches the bolt beyond the length of maximum clamping power, thus reducing the applied force of the fastener.
    To fix this problem, revise the PM procedure. It's inexpensive to mark each nut/bolt connection with a marker fluid for the purpose, after it's tightened to the correct torque value when newly installed. Loctite is one manufacturer of this product. The fluid leaves a visible line across the connection. If the fastener moves, the line breaks. Consider installing vibration-monitoring equipment, so you get an alarm when there's a problem rather needing to do repairs between PM inspections.

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