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September 21, 2010 A Penton Media Publication Vol. VI No. 18

You and CMMS, Part 3

Electrical Troubleshooting Quiz

Troubleshooting Thumb Switches, Part 2

NEC in the Facility



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MRO Insider addresses topics such as:

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  • Troubleshooting techniques
  • Equipment maintenance and testing tips
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    You and CMMS, Part 3
    One feature of computerized maintenance management systems (CMMSs) is the ability to capture information on inventories. Why is this useful? That depends on what inventory information you capture. Simply knowing what is leaving the stockroom helps you maintain stock minimums. However, wouldn't you also like to know:
    • Where specific items are being used?
    • The inventory appetite of each piece of equipment?
    • The inventory usage for repairs, PMs, and upgrades (aggregate and specific)?
    • The materials cost of a given PM?
    • The costs of materials for repairs over the last quarter, in the aggregate and by specific equipment?
    Use your CMMS to tell you these things.

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    Electrical Troubleshooting Quiz
    You work in a manufacturing plant, and your company has an administrative office across town. Your boss sends you over there to figure out why the offices have not been staying cool during the summer. The office manager tells you, "I’ve had the HVAC contractor out here three times since June to check the Freon. He does his thing, we're good for a while, and then it gets hot again."

    Has the office manager told you anything useful, and what should you do next?

    Visit EC&M's website to see the answer.

    Troubleshooting Thumb Switches, Part 2
    You could test a thumbwheel control using a DMM, but this is tedious and time-intensive. A great solution is the thumbwheel tester. Although you may be able to build one from a schematic, it's probably more cost effective to purchase one from a thumbwheel control manufacturer or other source.

    Anyone working in binary logic is familiar with truth tables, which show you all possible outputs corresponding to all possible switch positions. Use the tester to show the results of toggling each thumbwheel switch; compare each output to the truth table.

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

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    NEC in the Facility
    Chapter 7 of the NEC can be confusing unless you understand the difference between emergency systems, legally required standby systems, and optional standby systems. Once you sort these out, you may still be scratching your head if you have systems vital to public safety (including systems that protect against environmental releases of toxins or waste).

    This is where Annex F becomes tremendously helpful, despite being only two pages long. The first thing it does is walk you through how to determine:

    • Availability. The percentage of time a system is available to perform its functions
    • Reliability. The inverse of the probability and frequency of failures.
    The key components of these two metrics are:
    • MTBF. Mean time between failures.
    • MTTF. Mean time to failure.
    • MTTR. Mean time to repair.

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

    A few basic rules for test equipment:

    • Clean and inspect test leads after each use. If you spot a problem, don't try to fix it. Replacing suspect test leads costs less than labor time spent on repair attempts, and repair attempts are seldom effective.
    • If someone steps on a test lead or rolls a cart over it, assume the insulation has been damaged. Replace the test lead.
    • Always apply test leads one at a time to terminals rather than applying two leads simultaneously, as this prevents arcing between the leads.
    • Know what environment you're measuring in. A DMM rated as CAT II isn't safe to use on a service panel.
    Pop quiz: Do you know, without looking, the CAT rating of the DMM you use most often? Write down your answer. Now, check that DMM and see if you were correct. Where do you use this DMM?

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