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May 4, 2010 A Penton Media Publication Vol. VI No. 9



CONTENTS
Cast Your Vote for the EC&M Product of the Year!

You and IR, Part 1

Electrical Troubleshooting Quiz

Conquering PLC Gremlins

NEC in the Facility

Safety


About This Newsletter
This twice-a-month
e-newsletter is brought to you from the publisher of EC&M magazine.

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.

     
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    Product of the Year Competition
    Cast Your Vote for the EC&M Product of the Year!
    Would you like to help pick the prestigious EC&M Product of the Year winner and qualify for a chance to win $100? If you're an EC&M subscriber, make your vote count by visiting the 2010 EC&M Product of the Year category winners list. To review the products, click on the links for each of the 33 category winners to read a brief description and view a photo. Once you're finished with your review, visit the polling page, enter your contact information, choose your favorite product from the drop-down menu, and click submit.

    Your selection will help us identify the 2010 EC&M Product of the Year Platinum, Gold, and Silver award winners. As an added incentive, three lucky voters will be randomly selected to receive a $100 gift check.

    The voting poll will remain open through 5 p.m. on June 18, 2010. Please, only one vote per EC&M subscriber. Any votes received from manufacturers, PR firms, or non-EC&M readers will be discarded.


    Maintenance
    You and IR, Part 1
    In the previous five issues, we discussed insulation resistance (IR) testing. However, there is more than one kind of IR.

    This abbreviation also stands for infrared radiation, which forms the basis for infrared thermography. The word “thermography” is similar to the word “photography,” except we substitute thermo (meaning heat) for photo (meaning light). Thermography is basically a matter of working with pictures of heat.

    In the early 1990s, thermography was expensive and cumbersome. Although moving the carts of equipment required for a single scan didn't take a village, it did take a crew. Few facilities could afford thermography for maintenance.

    Today, there are light, handheld thermographic cameras. Technological advances have reduced prices and lowered the training requirements for effective use. Nevertheless, just adding infrared scans to your PM schedule doesn't provide you with an effective thermography program.

    The deeper your understanding of how to correctly take and interpret those "heat pictures," the more effective your thermography work becomes. Learn more in the next issue of MRO Insider.


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    Repair
    Electrical Troubleshooting Quiz
    The conveyor on a PLC-controlled packaging machine occasionally stops for no reason, and operators are unable to restart it. This problem has occurred on four occasions. Each time, the tech has gone through the PLC logic, found nothing wrong, and simply restarted it.

    Is the process of just checking the control logic really solving this problem each time? Nobody can come up with a better explanation, yet nobody can say why this seems to work. How can you determine what's really going wrong?

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


    Conquering PLC Gremlins
    In our previous issue, we noted that, for PLC-controlled systems, problems rarely occur inside the PLC. However, what if:

    1. You have the proper incoming signals for your control loop, and
    2. You can simulate outputs at the field terminations and get the correct control action?
    This means the problem is in the input module, PLC, or output module.

    In the previous newsletter, we discussed how to use the divide-and-conquer method to troubleshoot a PLC system. Now, use this method to determine if the problem is in the I/O modules (the most likely place).

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


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    Operation
    NEC in the Facility
    How big do your feeder and branch conductors really need to be? You may be undersizing conductors by using the ampacity tables in Art. 315, if you ignore 90.1(B) and the FPN in 315(A)(1). That FPN says the tables don't consider voltage drop. As noted in 90.1(B), following NEC requirements makes installations essentially free from hazard but not necessarily efficient.

    Voltage drop is just one issue to consider when designing for efficiency. For example, if the loads have low power factor, high harmonics, and/or high wave distortion, they'll draw more current to do the same work. You can correct power factor and harmonics only so much before further correction is impractical. Thus, conductors will carry some “bad power.”

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


    Safety
    Each year, OSHA reports on the types of injuries that happen on the job. Every year, injuries from improper ladder use are high up on the list. Follow these general tips:

    • Use only insulated (fiberglass) ladders.
    • Before you use a ladder, inspect it. If it's damaged (e.g., bent rung), remove it from the work area immediately. Put an “Out of Service” or similar tag on it.
    • Keep the area around the ladder clear of tools and materials.
    • Ensure the ladder is level and standing on something that won't give way.
    • Rather than carry tools when climbing a ladder, use a rope and bucket to raise and lower tools.
    • Allow only one person at a time on a ladder.
    • If you must work from a ladder, face the ladder when doing so. Also face the ladder when going up or down.
    • Use ladders only for purposes they're designed for. Propping one end of a scaffolding board, for example, isn't such a purpose.

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