Motor Maintenance Tip, Part
Facilitate Breaker Repairs
NEC in the Facility
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
Equipment maintenance and testing tips
Managing motors and generators
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.
You can use maintenance reports to see where you should
improve your maintenance efforts and to defend or expand the budget
needed to implement those improvements.
But the reports are only as good as the data on which you base them,
so you need efficient ways of collecting accurate data. To reduce the
overhead of manual collection methods, talk to vendors about automated
data collection through your control systems and power monitoring
For manual collection:
In our next issue, we'll look at what information you need to make
reports especially effective.
- Collect only the data you need. Ask for too much, and
accuracy plummets. Don't ask for data that would be "nice to
- Use simple collection forms. Provide predetermined choices,
wherever possible, ensuring the choices include "other."
- Motivate the data collectors. Techs under pressure to
repairs (or PM) with equipment shut down need frequent reminders that
recording data serves a vital purpose. When you can show a connection
between results and data collection, do so.
Tip, Part 8
About half of all motor failures occur due to failed
bearings. One cause of bearing failure is the mixing of incompatible
greases, which can have the same effect as pouring sand into the
bearing. Determine which lubricant to use in a given bearing, and stick
Another cause is excessive greasing. Excess grease can:
Misalignment, poor mounting, and overloading also cause bearing
failures. Don't add to those problems with improper lubrication
- Hold in heat to the point that all of the grease melts and runs
leaving the bearing dry.
- Create a hard crust that abrades the bearing.
- Short your windings.
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Your boss temporarily reassigns you to another facility
to solve its plant-wide plague of premature motor failures. You've
already reviewed the information from the power monitoring system and
out voltage imbalance and other supply issues. You want to solve this
problem quickly and go home. Where should you focus your efforts?
The answer to this question appears at the end of this
Previously, we identified some information needed for
each model of breaker. However, you also need certain information on
each individual breaker. Ideally, you will store this in your
CMMS and ensure it's easily accessible to the repair techs.
For each breaker, have information such as:
Additional tips include:
- Load data. Characterize each load. Include current draw,
inrush currents, usage factors, and any data pertinent to that
- Settings. Determine the correct values for each possible
adjustment. This typically shouldn't (or can't) be done in the
- PM data trends. Comparing test measurements to historic
trends can greatly reduce repair time while increasing the completeness
- Maintenance history. What has been done (or not done) to
maintain that breaker? What anomalies have been noted?
- Review breaker information for completeness and accuracy, as part
the scheduled PM.
- Store test results digitally so they can be easily accessed and
- Store thermal image files digitally, to speed up retrieval and
Senior managers seek to maximize revenue per square
of floor space. So when Article 110 and OSHA 1926.403 talk about
working clearances, all of the values somehow get translated into
exactly 3 feet of working clearance.
Make a point of correcting this "lost-in-translation" problem, but
stop there. Art. 110 and OSHA 1926.403 provide several values of
minimum clearances for safety. The clearances needed to maximize
the average revenue per square foot of the facility could be
If a production line produces $250,000 an hour of revenue, what's
net loss resulting from the "fully utilized" floor space arrangement
that doubles the time needed for repair?
Walk through your critical repair situations and look for a
of permanent space, temporary space, modified accessways, modified
tools, and innovative techniques that can eliminate delays caused by
trying to work in too-tight quarters.
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NEC in the
Feeder taps seem to grow in popularity as a facility
ages. The reasons for using feeder taps in new construction tend to
focus on installation cost. In an existing facility, the focus
tends to be on installation speed. Take care not to go too fast.
You can't install all feeder taps per 240.21(B). If such a tap supplies
a motor, it must comply with 430.28.
Report all unsafe conditions to your supervisor (even
you are a supervisor). Depending on the circumstances, you may report
unsafe conditions to other people first.
For example, say you notice a gas leak. Your first duty is to "sound
the alarm" and warn others so they can leave the area. Then, you need
ensure the first responders are notified. After you've addressed the
immediate situation this way, you then notify the area manager (e.g.,
the production manager or line supervisor for the affected area). Now,
at last, you can tell your supervisor.
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Electrical Troubleshooting Quiz
The fact this is a plant-wide issue actually helps you
narrow down the problem. Application-specific motor selection issues,
such as the wrong insulation rating for the temperature, are unlikely
be at the root of a plant-wide problem. Apply this same "filter" to
other potential causes and most will move to the "unlikely" column.
The root cause will likely be human error. But what error is it?
Conduct a forensic analysis of a few failed motors, and symptoms that
are common to these will lead to the answer.
The new maintenance manager at an appliance plant found his answer
after opening a few motors. Each one was filled with grease -- packed
tight. At this plant, motor lubrication had been regarded as "grunt
work" and assigned to two junior techs working a backshift.
Several manufacturers' maintenance manuals clearly explained the
motor lubrication procedure. However, nobody read the manuals. The
were pumping in random
of new grease without opening the bottom port to remove the old grease.
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