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June 25, 2007 A Penton Media Publication Vol. III No. 12

Maintenance and Energy Savings

Electrical Troubleshooting Quiz

Speeding Up Repairs

NEC at the Facility

Simplify Safety

Let's Go Racing! Win a free Road America race weekend for two.

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.



    Maintenance and Energy Savings
    Feeder systems provide ample opportunities for reducing energy waste. In the June 11 issue, we pinpointed some opportunities for 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 so obvious:

    • You must remove covers to conduct IR testing on connections, which means exposing people to arc flash hazards and other dangers. Use the appropriate arc-flash personal protection equipment (PPE) and follow the relevant procedures.
    • Connections aren't the only potential hot spots. Conduct IR testing on the 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.
    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 tests you may perform to keep your system in tip-top shape.

    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 nights 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, or call 1-800-254-0632.

    Electrical Troubleshooting Quiz
    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 first?

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

    Speeding Up Repairs
    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 is 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 the point.

    1. Notification. Orville Operator's machine went down. Other workers who need the parts from his machine are standing around waiting. 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 technician...

      A good solution to this situation is to have a "crew leader," who is the 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 within 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, perhaps monthly.

    2. 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.

    3. Access. Roger moves pallets of parts to access a particular panel. Orville would have willingly done this, if he had known to do so. This is another situation the crew leader could have managed.

    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 observe, and:
    • 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 Facility
    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."

    Simplify Safety
    Look at your company's various safety references. Although they are probably excellent resources, they may suffer from the 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:

    1. What are the possible dangers?
    2. What can I do to protect myself?
    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."

    Show & Events
    Let's Go Racing! Win a free Road America race weekend for two.
    EC&M magazine and Generac Power Systems have teamed up to offer an expenses-paid weekend (August 10-12, 2007) featuring two of the world's fastest racing series. The third annual Generac Power Weekend is one thrilling day of American LeMans series racing (the Generac 500) and an equally exciting day of Champ Car racing at its finest (the Generac Grand Prix). It's your chance to see both series compete in a single weekend at one of North America's most beautiful tracks. Located in the hilly heart of Wisconsin's scenic Kettle Moraine area, Road America is a four-mile permanent road course that tests drivers with 14 challenging turns.

    Enter by July 10, 2007. Visit the Generac Power Systems virtual booth at the EC&M E-Tradeshow. Full contest rules are available online in the Generac E-Tradeshow booth. For more information about the Generac Power Weekend, go to

    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 Answer
    Answer to 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 thinking behind this practice misses several key points and sets the stage for tragedy.

    When unqualified people modify equipment, you have an OSHA violation. 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 two 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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