Cast Your Vote Now!
Maintaining to Contain Energy
NEC at the Facility
Confined Entry Permits
EC&M Code Change
Answer to Electrical
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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
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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.
Product of the Year Competition
Cast Your Vote Now!
Do you want the opportunity to win $100? Then visit the
EC&M Web site by June 22 to
your vote in EC&M's Product of the Year competition, and help us
identify the best new product introduced to the electrical industry in
When you visit the EC&M Web
site, 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. For additional information
on each category winner, click on the product name in the pop-up poll
window, and it will bring you to a page that features product summaries
for all 24 category winners.
A panel of seven judges initially narrowed the field from 108
entrants down to 24 category winners. Now we need your help to
determine the Platinum, Gold, and Silver Award winners. The competition
has honored innovation and excellence in product development in the
electrical industry for the past seven years.
Contain Energy Costs
Did your facility's winter utility bills leave you a
frosted? Now that spring is here, those bills have probably dropped
significantly. But with summer on the way, they're about to rise again.
Now is the time to work on reducing energy waste.
It's tempting to approach energy savings with big ideas, but those
require big capital investments. Getting ideas through the capital
approval process will take time and may lead to frustration rather than
An often untapped resource for energy savings is energy-specific
maintenance. Here's an overview to get you thinking along these
- Existing maintenance procedures. Where possible, update your
existing procedures to include steps related to energy savings. For
example, you have procedures that call for recording current and
levels at distribution panels. Add lines for recording portable power
analyzer data, so you can quickly spot energy eaters such as harmonics
and low power factor.
- New maintenance procedures. When did you last measure the
temperature drops around windows, doors, and other openings that are
potential energy leaks? Any window, for example, can develop leaks
around the frame or around the panes. A quick check with a heat gun
during extreme temperatures will show you where such leaks are.
- PM schedules. You may need to schedule new procedures. Also,
may need to change the dates of existing ones so you're doing
temperature differential checks when the outside temperatures are more
- Boilers. These are typically undermaintained. Normally, the
focus is on doing the minimum to meet the insurance company's
requirements. Find energy savings by hiring a boiler expert to review
your maintenance practices for optimum boiler operation and efficiency.
- Filters. How often do you change air filters? The dirtier a
filter becomes, the more energy a fan motor must use to blow air
it. Ask a filter specialist to walk through your filter locations with
you and propose energy-saving measures. Note: Air-handling systems
aren't the only systems with air filters.
- Process heating. Thermal insulation systems eventually break
down, even if the actual material does not. Problems include joints
coming apart or heat-conducting contaminants causing infiltration
through the insulating medium. When you have large temperature
differentials between process heating pipes (or vessels) and the
surrounding air, the potential energy loss is huge. Set up an
During a review of power monitoring logs, you've found
that the current draw on your HVAC feeders has been creeping upward
the past two years. Now it's about 20% higher than it was two years
ago -- and almost to the breaker trip points. What are some possible
and where should you start troubleshooting?
The answer to this question appears at the end of this
When replacing windows, hire a qualified window
contractor to do the work. A window that isn't installed correctly will
leak around the frame. The money saved by having an untrained in-house
person do it or by hiring a cheap contractor can easily be lost each
heating or cooling season until that window is replaced.
NEC at the
Open any 120V distribution panel in your facility. On
the panel door, you'll find the circuit directory (normally, on the
inside). From what's written there, can you clearly tell what each
breaker is for? If not, that installation violates 408.4. A similar
requirement applies to switchboards.
Never think that what you're doing or how long you'll
in a confined space has any bearing on whether you should follow the
requirements of a confined entry permit. The permit addresses the gas
conditions inside that space, not why you're in there.
Suppose you just exited a tight confined space, removed the
extraction gear, and said goodbye to the attendant. Then, you realize
you left your DMM inside. It may seem silly to call the attendant to
come back and go through the whole permit again just so you can
the DMM. But the same dangers that were there a minute ago won't
disappear just because you're retrieving a DMM rather than doing
Show & Events
Where do you turn when you need accurate information on
changes to the National Electrical Code? Acknowledged as the leaders in
providing information on the NEC, EC&M magazine and EC&M
Seminars have been the preferred sources of this information for more
than 60 years. Seven Code change conferences have been scheduled in the
fall of 2007. Host cities include: Atlanta, Boston, Dallas, Orlando,
Philadelphia, St. Louis, and Seattle.
As an approved provider with the National Council of Examiners for
Engineering and Surveying (NCEES), through its Registered Continuing
Education provider Program (RCEPP), professional engineers attending
of our 2008 Code change conferences will receive Professional
Development Hours (PDHs), a requirement for re-licensing in many
The conferences are also approved by every state that has a continuing
education requirement for contractors and electricians.
For additional information on the dates and locations of these
Electrical Troubleshooting Quiz
Let's address the second part of the question first.
Begin by looking at the corresponding voltage trend so you can perform
triage on this situation. If the voltage has:
Now schedule an in-depth power quality survey so you can methodically
inspect the entire system. If the triage steps didn't identify any
problems, make the survey a high priority. In parallel with this
look at sources of energy loss such as:
- Stayed the same while current has been rising, see if any loads
been added over the past couple of years. If added loads explain the
increase in current, your system is probably OK. But since you're near
the breaker trip points, move these loads off these breakers.
- Decreased proportionately to the rise in current, conduct cable
leakage tests on the affected feeders.
- Decreased in greater proportion than the rise in current, conduct a
thorough thermographic survey to identify overheated
- Filters. Changing filters based on the calendar means you
be running with clogged filters. However, so does changing them based
how they look. They can be clogged by process dust or fine particles
from humidification systems; discoloration may not occur, and fine
particles can embed into the medium rather than build up on its
Consider installing pressure differential instrumentation across filter
inlets and outlets.
- Bonding errors. These cause all kinds of strange things to
happen in electrical systems.
- Cables. Review cable insulation test trends. If you see a
sudden change in resistance, that cable has a high risk of failure.
- Grime. Remove dirt from fan blades, belt pulleys, and heat
- Lubrication. Contaminated oil increases current draw. Low
- Mechanical wear. Vibration monitoring and scheduled
thermography are two powerful tools for spotting excess mechanical
It's usually cost-effective to set up a mechanical inspection program
with an HVAC contractor.
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