Feeder systems provide ample opportunities for reducing
energy waste. In the June 11 issue, we pinpointed some opportunities
identifying energy losses in your distribution transformers. Your
feeders provide other energy-saving opportunities, as well.
Conducting infrared (IR) testing on your feeder conductors is an
obvious way to spot energy leaks. However, some things about it are not
IR testing will not tell you that your feeders are fine. It will tell
you only what IR testing can tell you -- thermal information on
accessible portions of your feeder system. From this information, you
can identify energy loss. In our next issue, we'll look additional
you may perform to keep your system in tip-top shape.
- You must remove covers to conduct IR testing on connections, which
exposing people to arc flash hazards and other dangers. Use the
appropriate arc-flash personal protection equipment (PPE) and follow
- Connections aren't the only potential hot spots. Conduct IR testing
accessible portions of cables also.
- Though energized, HVAC feeders may not be under load or under peak
operating stress. Conduct IR testing on them when HVAC equipment has
been running hard for several hours. Late on a sweltering August
afternoon is better than early on a cool May morning.
Sign Up Today for InfraMation Hosted by FLIR!
Register by July 31st for InfraMation, the world's largest
infrared camera applications conference, and receive 3 free hotel
and a guest pass. Hosted by FLIR, InfraMation will happen on October
15-19, 2007 in Las Vegas. InfraMation features sessions on condition
monitoring and predictive and preventive maintenance, as well as IR
clinics on electrical applications. Visit www.inframation.org, or call
The production supervisor says, "To keep production
running while waiting for you to arrive, we bypassed this safety
switch." You know the primary rule of troubleshooting is to take "as
found" data before changing anything. The operators desperately needed
to run this machine or they would have waited. Should you start
troubleshooting with that bypass in place, or should you remove it
The answer to this question appears at the end of this
A good rule of thumb when designing any system is, "If
it isn't simple, it's broken." The system you have for making repairs
no exception. The typical repair system involves many steps that can be
eliminated or simplified.
A thorough analysis of your entire repair system will likely reveal
ways to slash repair time. Let's look at just three steps to illustrate
We have looked at barriers to just getting the repair tech
started. How many unnecessary steps will the repair tech
encounter from this point forward? Probably many. So, pick a repair to
- Notification. Orville Operator's machine went down. Other
workers who need the parts from his machine are standing around
After 15 minutes, Orville located his supervisor, who spent another 15
minutes locating the maintenance manager, who called the maintenance
supervisor, who spent another 15 minutes finding a maintenance
A good solution to this situation is to have a "crew leader," who is
designated repair controller and is easily accessible to the operators.
The crew leader, unlike the maintenance supervisor (who has meetings,
reports, and personnel issues to contend with), is constantly walking
the floor. The crew leader responds to an operator's cry for help
seconds. The crew leader assesses the more complex repairs and
coordinates other techs to make them, but makes quick repairs when
possible. The crew leader job should rotate among the repair techs,
- Response. Roger Repairtech encounters Orville, who has
already described the problem to six other people and is taking out his
frustration on Roger. Now highly agitated, Orville takes 15 minutes to
spit out what the actual problem is. Roger goes back to the shop to get
test equipment, tools, and drawings.
If the crew leader had radioed Roger with a rundown of the problem (an
hour ago), Roger could have arrived with probably everything he needed
to make the necessary repair.
- Access. Roger moves pallets of parts to access a particular
panel. Orville would have willingly done this, if he had known to do
This is another situation the crew leader could have
- Record the steps taken.
- Question each step, with the goal of eliminating it.
- Identify steps you can move outside the repair window.
- Identify steps you can take off the back of the responding repair
tech (as we did above, with the crew leader).
- Analyze each remaining step for ways to simplify it.
NEC at the
In Europe, the codes distinguish between bonding and
earthing. In the United States, the word "grounding" can mean either of
these. The resulting confusion causes numerous problems, including
personnel danger and equipment malfunction. In 408.22, the NEC requires
switchboard instruments to be "grounded" per 250.170 through 250.178
where there is no mention of "bonding." When referring to the
"grounding" of equipment, the NEC actually means "bonding."
Look at your company's various safety references.
Although they are probably excellent resources, they may suffer from
same flaw -- too much information for ready recall. This doesn't mean
you need to change those references. People need that detail. The
problem is getting it "front of mind."
The solution is to drum into every worker the need to ask two
questions before beginning a task:
The answers are in those safety documents and in the training your
company provides. Asking these two questions at the start of every task
brings those answers to "front of mind."
- What are the possible dangers?
- What can I do to protect myself?
Show & Events
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featuring two of the world's fastest racing series. The third annual
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racing (the Generac 500) and an equally exciting day of Champ Car
at its finest (the Generac Grand Prix). It's your chance to see both
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Enter by July 10, 2007. Visit the Generac Power Systems virtual
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E-Tradeshow. Full contest rules are available online in the Generac
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go to www.roadamerica.com.
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
The operators may be able to "safely" operate equipment
with a jumper in place due to heightened awareness of the temporary
removal of a safety feature (and sheer luck). Nevertheless, the
behind this practice misses several key points and sets the stage for
When unqualified people modify equipment, you have an OSHA
You do not want operators running jumpers. Your first step will be to
document the unauthorized tampering. Photograph the bypass, then write
an accurate description. Production people might be fuming that you're
doing this instead of fixing their problem. But the fact is you have
repairs instead of one, due to their tampering. Once you've documented
the tampering, restore the safety feature. Then, take your "as found"
data on the machine to troubleshoot the original problem.
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