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May 11, 2007 A Penton Media Publication Vol. III No. 9

Cast Your Vote Now!

Maintaining to Contain Energy Costs

Electrical Troubleshooting Quiz

Energy Repairs

NEC at the Facility

Confined Entry Permits

EC&M Code Change Conferences

Answer to Electrical Troubleshooting Quiz

About This Newsletter
This twice-a-month
e-newsletter is brought to you from the publisher of EC&M magazine.

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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    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 cast 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 2006.

    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.

    Maintaining to Contain Energy Costs
    Did your facility's winter utility bills leave you a bit 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 results.

    An often untapped resource for energy savings is energy-specific maintenance. Here's an overview to get you thinking along these lines:

    • 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 voltage 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, you may need to change the dates of existing ones so you're doing temperature differential checks when the outside temperatures are more extreme.
    • Boilers. These are typically undermaintained. Normally, the focus is on doing the minimum to meet the insurance company's inspection 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 through 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 insulation inspection program.

    Electrical Troubleshooting Quiz
    During a review of power monitoring logs, you've found that the current draw on your HVAC feeders has been creeping upward over 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 causes, and where should you start troubleshooting?

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

    Energy Repairs
    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 Facility
    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.

    Confined Entry Permits
    Never think that what you're doing or how long you'll be 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 retrieve 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 something else.

    Show & Events
    EC&M Code Change Conferences
    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 any of our 2008 Code change conferences will receive Professional Development Hours (PDHs), a requirement for re-licensing in many states. 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 events, click here.

    Quiz Answers
    Answer to 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:

    • Stayed the same while current has been rising, see if any loads have 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 connections.
    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 effort, look at sources of energy loss such as:
    • Filters. Changing filters based on the calendar means you may be running with clogged filters. However, so does changing them based on 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 surface. 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 exchanger fins.
    • Lubrication. Contaminated oil increases current draw. Low oil does, too.
    • Mechanical wear. Vibration monitoring and scheduled thermography are two powerful tools for spotting excess mechanical wear. It's usually cost-effective to set up a mechanical inspection program with an HVAC contractor.

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