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February 24, 2009 A Penton Media Publication Vol. V No. 4

Maintaining for Energy Savings, Part 8

Electrical Troubleshooting Quiz

Bottleneck Motor Repairs, Part 4

NEC in the Facility


Answer to Electrical Troubleshooting Quiz

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    Maintaining for Energy Savings, Part 8
    Power-wasting problems can lie hidden for years, stealthily sucking down your energy dollars. Eventually, a string of equipment failures gets people looking for a root cause, and it turns out to be a power anomaly.

    Had that anomaly been fixed sooner, the equipment would have been spared. And how much extra did it cost to operate your facility during that time?

    To eliminate this stealthy energy waste, you need a tool to identify and report power problems in real time. A well-planned power monitoring system is that tool.

    Putting such a system in place involves more than slapping a monitor on the wall at the service entrance. It requires setting up a network of monitoring points that include large individual loads, such as compressor motors, and large load nodes, such as computer supply branch circuits. Obviously, doing this requires an investment of time and money. However, the return on that investment tends to be high.

    Again, we’re talking about a system that looks at power where the power is being used rather than only where it enters the building. If you plan this system with the goal of enhancing energy efficiency, you can receive automatic, instant notifications of major sources of energy waste as problems emerge. That is much less expensive than relying on “the canary in the mine approach” (waiting for equipment to fail).

    If your only goal is to qualify for a favorable utility rate based on the power factor at your utility meter, a power monitor is overkill. You don’t need a power monitor to determine if power factor correction capacitors are getting you that favorable billing rate. But qualifying for this rate doesn’t mean your facility is energy efficient. It can be grossly energy inefficient and still qualify for this rate.

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    Electrical Troubleshooting Quiz
    A few years ago, your company added a new process on your plant site. It required a new building with its own electrical service. The plant controller now says the electric bills for this building are too high. The utility’s kilowatt-hour usage reports for this building show a significant increase over time. Yet, no process changes or equipment additions have been made since startup. What steps should you take to investigate and solve this?

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

    Bottleneck Motor Repairs, Part 4
    To reduce the time for your most critical repairs of bottleneck motors, walk through (physically rehearse) each repair scenario and do the following:

    • Ensure repair procedures include lists of parts, materials, PPE, and other items typically needed to perform that repair.
    • Determine training needs, and ensure you have a sufficient number of qualified people on each shift. Avoid concentrating the training into only a few people (that creates a resource bottleneck).
    • Try to move repair steps from the downtime window to before (or after) the repair.
    • Determine what tools are needed and keep them in a tool kit stored near that motor.
    • Look for ways to create parallel paths of work flow. For example, while Tech A does this while Tech B does that.

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    NEC in the Facility
    Class III locations are those that have (or may have) combustible fibers in quantities sufficient to produce explosion or ignition [500.5(D)]. As with Class I and II locations, Class III locations may be Division 1 (combustibles present under normal operations) or Division 2 (combustibles present under abnormal operations).

    Perhaps the most critical way in which Class III locations differ from Class I and Class II is in the requirements for wiring methods. These are in 503.10.

    They also differ in seal requirements. In Class I locations, seal requirements are stringent. In Class II locations, they are simple. In Class III locations, they aren’t explicitly stated. However, sealing may be implicitly required. For example, you may need to pour a seal to maintain the integrity of a protection technique [500.7] required by 503.25.

    Class III locations have the largest particles (fibers), which are the easiest to contain. Thus, Class III requirements are easier to implement than Class I and Class II requirements.

    Each year, OSHA releases a "most common violations" list. Fall protection deficiencies make the list every time.

    Guardrails are a type of fall protection. Manufacturers of guardrail systems provide worksheets and other guides to help you create the correct specifications for new guardrails in your facility. OSHA also provides guardrail requirements, which you’ll find in 29CFR1926.501(b).

    Where do you need guardrails? OSHA says to install guardrails any time a surface is 6 ft or more above a lower level (alternatively, you can use safety net systems or personal fall arrest systems).

    However, danger also is present below 6 ft. Rather than think in terms of how high you can be before violating OSHA requirements, think about how to make every elevation safe.

    This goes beyond simply installing guardrails. For example, if the structure lacks the requisite strength and integrity for safe use, then a guardrail doesn’t much matter.

    Quiz Answer
    Answer to Electrical Troubleshooting Quiz
    The mere fact that you are in troubleshooting mode on this issue reveals a glaring deficiency. With a properly setup power monitoring system, you would have already had the answers.

    Back when energy usage first started to rise, a system that monitors this building’s major energy users would have sent you a series of notifications. The system also would provide you the ability to view a wide range of trends on various power characteristics.

    It would be interesting to compare the cost of wasted energy over the past few years with the amount of money "saved" by not undertaking the investment in an adequate power monitoring system. Now is a good time to put in a funding request for such a system. Once you actually reduce the energy bills, the perception of need will diminish dramatically.

    Your initial troubleshooting steps:

    • Use a portable power analyzer on feeders and then branch circuits.
    • Check all air filters.
    • Check the bonding system for faulty connections.
    • Check cables for insulation integrity.

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