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February 19, 2008 A Penton Media Publication Vol. IV No. 4

Reporting Tips

Motor Maintenance Tip, Part 7

Electrical Troubleshooting Quiz

Complex Repairs

NEC in the Facility


Answer to Electrical Troubleshooting Quiz

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This twice-a-month
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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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    Reporting Tips
    Maintenance reports can produce many benefits, but there's often a huge gulf between "can" and "does." A report that doesn't focus on business purposes is rarely effective outside of the maintenance department. For example, production managers don't care that you have reduced the third harmonic by 90% on feeders X, Y, and Z, but they do care when they see the effect stated in terms of increased uptime or reduced scrap on lines A, B, and C.

    Show the value of the maintenance department by reporting on the following, preferably for each production line:

    • Hours of uptime gained.
    • Units of output gained.
    • Revenue gained.
    • Scrap reduced (in units and percentages).
    • WIP reduced. WIP is often a buffer that masks other problems.
    Review this list with key stakeholders and ask them if there's something else they might find helpful. Don't promise you can provide it -- just ask who needs what. In our next issue, we'll look at ways to obtain the data so you can provide that information.

    Motor Maintenance Tip, Part 7
    Short-duration high voltages can puncture motor insulation. At one time, lightning was the No. 1 cause of such spikes. Now, that distinction has (arguably) gone to solid-state switching devices (e.g., computer power supplies or motor drives). This means your motors are exposed to significant threats from inside your building.

    Protect against voltage spikes with:

    • Bonding. Ensure that all metallic objects are properly bonded (Article 250, Part V) so they are at the same potential. This prevents high-voltage flashovers.
    • Surge protection. Don't rely on just MOVs across the motor drive inputs. Develop a coordinated system. Start with your service entrance and work your way toward the individual loads, applying protection as needed to keep voltage spikes within tolerable limits at each point.
    • Preventive wiring. Route motor supply conductors away from conductors of other circuits. Where this is possible or practical, you prevent induced spikes.

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    Electrical Troubleshooting Quiz
    During a scheduled shutdown for circuit breaker maintenance, you do some minor repairs on a breaker and now need to lubricate it. You don't have any information on what the lubrication points are or what lubricant to use. You have an hour left in this shutdown, and there's not another one scheduled for 6 months. Your boss says it's obvious what the lubrication points are -- those are the points that already have lubricant. Your boss also recommends a specific lubricant based on the fact it's on hand and suitable for the application. What should you do?

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

    Complex Repairs
    Some equipment is complex to repair. If you have had much experience with circuit breakers, you know they are prime examples of complex repair work. The crew doing the repair (outsourced or not) is involved in an information-intensive task. Each model of breaker is different, and one mistake can be disastrous.

    For that reason, it's inadvisable to proceed with the work until certain information is available and on hand. When a critical breaker fails, you don't have time to go off hunting for the information needed to repair or replace it.

    Take the time now to assemble information packages for all of your critical breakers. Include the following for each specific model:

    • Technical bulletins and service bulletins. Create a quarterly "PM" to look on the manufacturer's Website for new releases relevant to your critical breakers. Review these bulletins specifically for obsolescence and replacement information.
    • Procedures for rackout and lockout. Keep these procedures in your CMMS or other repository, after you do a "dry run" of each one to ensure it's correct. Note what PPE is required.
    • Maintenance manual. If you can't obtain this as a PDF from the manufacturer, scan a paper version into your information system. This way, nobody has to figure out who last misplaced that paper manual or where it disappeared to (apparently under its own power!).
    The maintenance manual might not be complete. Assess and fill any holes. You need to know:
    • Recommended tests and procedures. Consider having a qualified electrical testing firm develop a test plan for you, based on its extensive experience.
    • Expected values (e.g., contact resistance). To know if something's wrong, you must compare your test data to expected values.
    • Adjustment procedures. How do you correct a delta between measured and expected test values?
    • Lubrication points and lubricant specifications. A mistake here can prove catastrophic.

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    NEC in the Facility
    A good surge protection plan consists of multiple stages of protection. The first stages are lightning protection (NFPA 780) and then surge arrestors (Article 280), typically applied outdoors. Inside the facility, install surge protective devices (SPDs) per Article 285. A good SPD strategy involves applying sequential stages at successively lower levels of voltage clamping, an issue not addressed in Article 285.

    The updated NFPA 70E has received some excellent coverage in the trade press. Unfortunately, many people are still not hearing the message. They are focusing on minimal legalistic compliance and looking for loopholes. NFPA 70E isn't about how to slow down your work. It's about how to keep you safe while you're doing it. Don't look for ways to defeat the new rules. Instead, look for ways to protect yourself from the dangers those rules address.

    Quiz Answer
    Answer to Electrical Troubleshooting Quiz
    If you can't identify the lubrication points, you risk missing one that's critical or putting lubricant where it doesn't belong. Mixing incompatible lubricants can produce an abrasive compound that will destroy, rather than lubricate. Thoroughly cleaning the breaker first may prevent incompatibility complications this time, but what about the next time?

    If you can't find lubrication information quickly, you could extend the shutdown until you get the necessary information. Or, you could do the best you can with what you have, first getting an agreement from production to shut down again two days hence so you can redo the cleaning and lubrication. If you have any doubts, don't risk improper breaker operation (which could result in the loss of the facility).

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