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December 9, 2008 A Penton Media Publication Vol. IV No. 23

Maintaining Batteries, Part 2

Maintaining for Energy Savings, Part 3

Electrical Troubleshooting Quiz

Failure Frequency Analysis

NEC in the Facility


Answer to Electrical Troubleshooting Quiz

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MRO Insider addresses topics such as:

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    Maintaining Batteries, Part 2
    To ensure your stationary batteries are there when you need them, look closely at how your maintenance procedures address the following practices:
    • Load testing. This is a classic case of “less is more.” Although load testing will tell you how much runtime your batteries can provide, it reduces that runtime each time you perform this test. Some battery experts believe the only time to load test is when submitting a warranty claim for premature battery failure.
    • Internal resistance testing. This test allows you to quantify the condition of your batteries. If you trend the test results, you can proactively maintain and replace individual cells to optimize overall battery performance.
    • Thermal monitoring. Battery performance varies with temperature, as does the charging rate. In multi-tiered batteries, each tier will be at a different temperature and thus require a different charging rate. Monitor the temperature of each tier.
    • Charging rate analysis. This is a bit of a black art, but well worth pursuing with a battery specialist who practices it. A charging rate that is too high will reduce battery life, and one that is too low will reduce capacity.

    Maintaining for Energy Savings, Part 3
    Have you ever revised the factory settings on your HVAC controls? If so, what procedures and references did you use? See if you can answer the following questions:
    • Do you know what the airflows are supposed to be at various measurement points, and do you have the test equipment to test them?
    • When measuring airflow in your system, are you using Pitot tubes or electronic airflow sensors?
    • Do you know the correct settings for the variable speed drives on your blowers?
    • Does your system have manual or automatic intake air vane controls? If so (either way), how do you ensure these are positioned correctly at any given time?
    The answers to these and other questions can produce energy savings in the way you maintain your HVAC. The manufacturers of your equipment should be able to help you find those answers.

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    Electrical Troubleshooting Quiz
    Your plant controller mentioned at a staff meeting that utility bills were higher than budget last summer. And that’s after you raised the office air temperature settings by two degrees and put locking covers on the thermostats. Now with winter setting in, you’re under the gun to solve this before the next cooling season.

    The building envelope doesn’t leak and no new equipment has been added, so your boss thinks the HVAC system is the culprit. How can you track down what’s going on?

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

    Failure Frequency Analysis
    The ways to track and analyze failure frequency are numerous and diverse. MBAs and financial types like charts laden with cost data, and quality-control people like probability analysis. Although these are useful tools, they don’t provide the information most critical to the maintenance function.

    You need to identify and fix the equipment failure causes, to maximize the flow of product through the plant. Answers to two questions will help you:

    1. What are the equipment priorities based on plant safety and product flow?
    2. What is the failure history of the critical equipment?
    We’ll take a closer look at this in our next issue.

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    NEC in the Facility
    Article 501 provides the requirements for Class I locations. These are areas in which flammable gases or vapors are (or may be) present in sufficient quantities to produce explosive or ignitible mixtures [500.5(B)].

    Class locations are further broken down into Division 1 (normal operations) and Division 2 (abnormal operations).

    • Use Division 1 wiring methods when combustibles are present under normal operations [501.10(A)].
    • Use Division 2 wiring methods when combustibles are present under abnormal operations [501.10(B)].

    Most people know that being distracted by a cell phone while driving isn’t safe. We can probably even pick out a chatterbox driver from a distance just by observing the traffic. Understanding why it’s unsafe can help you stay protected while doing electrical work.

    The human brain cannot multitask. When you try to do two things at once, your brain has to switch between tasks. The switching costs are what cause the danger.

    In one study, people sat in a test room with monitoring equipment and took on the role of drivers. Each of them had periods of "brain suspension," in which they didn’t process new information. It didn’t matter whether they were speaking into a phone or to the person next to them. The distraction of carrying on a conversation caused lapses in attentiveness to the primary task.

    Any time you’re around electrical equipment, focus on the primary task. If another person wants to chatter, stop working. Let that person know you can’t work safely and listen at the same time.

    Quiz Answer
    Answer to Electrical Troubleshooting Quiz
    The following tests will help you quickly identify where the energy losses are in your HVAC system:

    • Use an IR camera to examine the roof curbings for leaks.
    • Use an IR camera to examine all interior ductwork, where exposed, for leaks at the seams.
    • Measure the current draw on each HVAC motor and compare to the nominal calculated current. This is a quick way to isolate efficiency losses. They may be due to any number of causes, both electrical and mechanical.
    • Conduct the airflow tests recommended by the manufacturer (e.g., airflow across the coil). Adjusting the blower speed and/or damper position to obtain the recommended air flow can provide significant cost-savings.
    • Inspect condenser unit vanes. These are often out of sight, out of mind. Open crushed vanes with a vane comb made for that specific type of vane. If the vanes are clogged with debris, clean per the manufacturer’s approved methods.
    • Check airflow around condenser units. Ensure there are no obstacles blocking free airflow around these. For pad-mounted units at grade level, look for vegetation, pallets, and vehicles that are in the way.

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