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September 22, 2009 A Penton Media Publication Vol. V No. 18

Maintaining Your Grounding System

Electrical Troubleshooting Quiz

Repetitive Causes vs. Root Causes


NEC in the Facility


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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.



    Maintaining Your Grounding System
    It's a common mistake to test something other than the grounding system and then conclude the grounding system is good, regardless of its actual (and unknown) condition. That mistake, in turn, leads to inadequate maintenance of the grounding system.

    IEEE-142, the Green Book, differentiates between "static grounding" and "lightning grounding," by which it means bonding in the former case and earthing in the latter. Bonding, which is addressed in detail in the NEC Art. 250, Part V, isn't the concern here. Our concern is the earth connection, because you need it for lightning protection. To understand the maintenance requirements, it seems logical to look to the lightning protection standards.

    To read more on this story, visit EC&M's Web site.


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    Electrical Troubleshooting Quiz
    You've been assigned the task of solving a product quality problem. The plant has six production lines, each for different flavors of a baked good. The process on each line begins with a mixing vat controlled by PLC. The dough drops onto a conveyor and passes through an oven, and out the end comes the finished product.

    The products sometimes are a bit gooey, sometimes a bit burnt. To begin solving this problem, what should you do?

    Visit EC&M's Web site to see the answer.

    Repetitive Causes vs. Root Causes
    No repair is complete without a failure analysis. One goal of the analysis is to prevent the problem from recurring on that equipment. Looking for repetitive causes allows you to reach this goal. For example, a motor failed due to overheating. Analysis shows the cause is a lack of ventilation. Add ventilation, and you prevent a repeat of that failure.

    Another goal of failure analysis is to prevent the problem from recurring elsewhere from the same cause. For example, a motor fails due to voltage imbalance on the feeder. Other motors sharing that feeder will fail from the same cause. We call this a root cause.


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    It's essential to follow NFPA 70E, but doing so protects you from only three of the many dangers that exist on the job:
    1. Shock
    2. Arc flash
    3. Arc blast
    How many other dangers exist? OSHA 1926 is more than 1 in. thick and contains the safety regulations for the construction industry. Most of these concerns exist in facilities as well. In addition, each facility has its own quirks and process-related dangers.

    To read more on this story, visit EC&M's Web site.

    NEC in the Facility
    A problem facing facility managers in this time of severe cost-cutting is getting approval for spending money on NEC compliance. A misperception used as justification for "saving money" through noncompliance is "we're not under the NEC." That misperception arises because operating facilities generally aren't under the jurisdiction of the local electrical inspector.

    However, several Authorities Having Jurisdiction (AHJs) can enforce the NEC:

    • Fire marshal can order the facility closed.
    • Insurer can revoke insurance, even retroactive to a catastrophic event.
    • Courts can rule negligence, with civil or even criminal liabilities (if death or injury is involved) against both the company and individuals.
    • OSHA can order the facility closed.
    • Electric utility can shut off power.

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