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September 11, 2007 A Penton Media Publication Vol. III No. 17

Building Better Relationships

Avoiding "Too Little" Maintenance: Part 1

Electrical Troubleshooting Quiz

Motor System Repair Mistakes: Part 1

NEC in the Facility

Safety Habits

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.




    Building Better Relationships
    In the previous two issues of MRO Insider, we examined how to stop the blame game. The final piece of this puzzle is getting production operators to:
    • Identify specific problems. You need to know about any problem that slows production or reduces quality. Automaker Toyota built its reputation not by solving a few great problems, but by solving many small ones.
    • Look for improvements. Those closest to the work have insight on how to make things run better, faster, and safer.
    • Tell the right people. Operators see problems all the time, but often drop the ball on getting that information to maintenance so it can be acted upon. Make it easy for them to do so.
    However, the operators don't work for you, so how can you accomplish this? Here are three suggestions:
    1. Look. Walk around and see how operators work. This helps you understand what they tell you.
    2. Listen. Relying on suggestion forms is a mistake. Operators rarely fill them out in a useful way -- if at all. Ask questions, and listen to the replies. Don't argue or judge.
    3. Talk. Tell operators how you think they can help make your mutual goals happen. Briefly explain the logic. Be careful not to tell them how to do their jobs. Try suggesting instead.

    Avoiding "Too Little" Maintenance: Part 1 Maintenance managers, trying to make do with limited resources, often cut back on vital predictive and preventive maintenance. Frequent victims include breaker testing, infrared surveys, transformer testing, and insulation resistance tests. Cost-cutting on these activities, however, is a proven way to generate enormous costs of downtime and repair.

    A common cause of cutting back on true maintenance work is the "need" to complete unessential projects thrown on maintenance by outside managers -- especially in organizations where maintenance isn't allowed to "charge" for its work. Fight back by monetizing each activity. When someone insists that maintenance should do a given project, ask two simple questions:

    • How much does it cost to perform?
    • How much revenue loss does it prevent, or how much revenue does it generate?
    You'll find that many "essential" projects and tasks don't make financial sense for the company. Use that fact to get maintenance off the hook. Consider including this information about proposed, accepted, and completed projects in a weekly report to all departments.

    Register Today for FREE Infrared Training from FLIR
    Want to learn more about using infrared for preventative maintenance? Sign up today for a free Infrared Seminar from FLIR! Discover how thermal imaging is used to find problems, limit your liability, improve safety, save money, make money, and even advance your career. Register online at or call 1-800-254-0633.

    Electrical Troubleshooting Quiz
    A motor loses an overload fuse just about every day. Two DMMs with high/low recording have been monitoring the input for two weeks and have yet to show either undervoltage or overcurrent. What are some possible reasons, and how can you find them?

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

    Motor System Repair Mistakes: Part 1
    Replacing or resetting a motor overload without taking measurements usually solves the problem of the non-running motor quickly. However, this seldom restores the motor system to proper operation or provides confidence the motor will stay running.

    Why did that overload trip? How close are you now to another trip? Motor overloads protect a motor from overcurrent, because they open when the current draw exceeds some limit. If the motor is drawing just under that limit, the overloads won't open. This doesn't mean your motor system is healthy.

    When the motor is down, you can perform insulation resistance testing on the windings and supply cables, ohmmeter testing on the control circuits, and alignment checks on the motor and load. Although essential, these static tests don't tell you the whole story. Rely completely on them, and you'll probably leave a root cause unsolved. You need dynamic testing for a complete repair.

    Three dynamic tests are especially helpful:

    • Vibration analysis. Quickly see if you have deficiencies in mounting, support, or alignment.
    • Thermal analysis. Quickly find such problems with ventilation and lubrication. Pinpoint winding hot spots (insulation breakdown) and identify bearings on the edge of failure.
    • Voltage and current analysis. Using a standard DMM, check for voltage imbalance, low voltage, and high current. You can learn more with a power analyzer (e.g., low power factor, excessive 3rd harmonics, and waveform flat-topping).

    NEC in the Facility
    You can reduce the cost of ordering and/or stocking replacement ballasts and lamps by reducing the variety of luminaires in a facility. Standardizing on a particular design reduces costs. For example, carry all 277V fluorescents rather than a mix of 120V and 277V and try to reduce the number of fixture styles. However, be careful not to carry this too far.

    Most facilities have a room for storing various cleaning chemicals and janitorial supplies. Even when ventilated, these rooms can be considered corrosive locations. A loading dock may become a damp location or even a wet one when its doors are open during inclement weather.

    Make sure your lighting installations conform to 410.4:

    • Use fixtures marked as suitable for any damp, wet, or corrosive locations. Don't overlook locations that meet those descriptions only part-time.
    • In damp or wet locations, install the fixtures so that water can't enter or accumulate inside them.
    • In corrosive locations, follow the manufacturer's installation instructions rather than installing per your normal methods.

    Safety Habits
    Make two safety habits part of the maintenance way of doing things.
    • Participate. Take an active role in safety meetings, discussions, and training. Being present but inattentive won't make you safer. Ask questions, seek advice, and mention concerns.
    • Work neatly. A messy workplace is a dangerous workplace. Keep work areas free of debris, scrap, and loose parts. Look for hazards that could lead to fire, falling, slipping, and tripping.

    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 Answer
    Answer to Electrical Troubleshooting Quiz These fuses are obviously overheating. The DMMs are looking at the fundamental current only. A power analyzer will show you that the total current is close to the rating of the overload fuses. Use the analyzer to identify the specific anomalies present in the supply current. You can then solve for the cause(s) of those anomalies.

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