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January 5, 2010 A Penton Media Publication Vol. VI No. 1

Avoiding Cost Overruns

Electrical Troubleshooting Quiz

Make Procedures Helpful, Part 2

NEC in the Facility


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This twice-a-month
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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.


    Avoiding Cost Overruns
    Maintenance managers frequently encounter a wide range of bids for the projects they outsource. Contractors who specialize in maintenance support, facilities projects, and electrical upgrades often submit bids based on project requirements that are vague and incomplete, hoping to sort it out later. These two problems have a common cause and thus a common solution.

    They also spawn a third problem: the company controller stuck with invoices that exceed planned outlays. Project funding in any given period is available based on approval from a previous cycle. Funding for unplanned project scope increases is problematic for the finance department and sometimes will be declined or deferred, with your contractors unpaid.

    Many companies solve this problem by having a qualified estimator work on project requirements and request for bid documents. If the estimator is in-house, put that person on top of the game with appropriate estimating software. Look for features such as flexible bid summaries, materials lists, and quote requests.

    Electrical Troubleshooting Quiz
    People have been complaining all winter long about the temperature, and several instances of thermostat tampering have compounded the problem. Worse, many people are bringing in personal space heaters and powering them from daisy chains of surge strips and extension cords. Breaker trips are driving everyone batty.

    The HR manager told you this whole situation is becoming a real headache and has asked you to do something about it. What are some steps you should take?

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

    Make Procedures Helpful, Part 2
    Your repair procedures need to progress in linear fashion to help a person do the right steps in the right order. However, they shouldn't require people to perform every possible step in a repair.

    Doing every step that can possibly be done obviously requires more time and money for repair completion. But the real problem in doing a step that doesn't need doing is the added risk of human error.

    So, add "step skips" wherever possible. You can say, "If X is true, then skip to step ABC. Otherwise, go to step 123." Try to make "X" some kind of quantity expressed in units, rather than a judgment call.

    Here's the most important point to address when doing this: Keep the end-user in mind. Ask yourself, "How easy and helpful is this procedure to use?" Don’t do anything that defeats that goal.

    NEC in the Facility
    Retrofits, upgrades, and additions can result in a change to the "total load" used for sizing service conductors. Don't look only at the size of your service transformer(s) when adding equipment, upgrading HVAC, or making other configuration changes. Service conductors that were correctly sized with load diversification and other mitigating factors may suddenly be undersized.

    Any time you add or change a load, you should recalculate the required ampacities of the conductors for the branch circuit, feeder, and service supplying that load. The service is the most critical, as loss of those conductors will shut down the whole area supplied by that service.

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

    In the last newsletter, we said that hearing loss isn't a natural consequence of aging, but it is a natural consequence of not wearing the necessary PPE. Despite the often-repeated facts, many people neglect proper hearing protection. Inevitably, they end up with hearing damage. It's usually profound and always permanent. Problems include constant ringing (tinnitus) and the frustration of trying to decode clipped and garbled speech. It also can rob you of the ability to enjoy common sounds. Finally, don't forget to take the cost of hearing aids and batteries into consideration.

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