Keeping Your Electrical Plant Healthy


092016_blogimage_planthealth

This blog post was written by Jenn Hoberg.

How can you determine the electrical health of your plant and keep it healthy through electrical preventative maintenance? Preventative maintenance comes in many forms, but the general consensus is to be proactive vs. reactive with electrical issues. Electrical issues are often discovered too late and result in costly and lengthy shutdowns. By utilizing an electrical preventative maintenance program, you can identify potential issues while also ensuring safety of plant personnel. Listed below are a variety of preventative maintenance techniques along with the benefits of each method.

IR (Infrared) Scanning

Identify and document temperatures that exceed NFPA Standard 70B recommendations, i.e., high resistance electrical connections, current overload, defective circuit breakers and/or defective insulator conditions. With a qualified IR scanning technician, this can usually be done in 1-2 days and causes no downtime. The result will be an easily identifiable report in which electrical issues can be addressed before they are an issue.

Energized Testing

Energized testing would be performed yearly on the following equipment: Switchboards and Main Breaker MCC’s (480v), and Distribution Panels (480V). Due to its critical nature, we recommend this equipment receiving additional testing, i.e., if a failure occurs at this level it will cause an outage with a more widely spread impact than just this equipment itself. This is another step that is important in minimizing the chances of a catastrophic failure.

Grounding Testing

What is the health/functionality of your current grounding system? How do you know if your grounding system is functioning properly unless you have an incident? By conducting yearly testing the Ohms levels of your current system, you can easily determine if you have loose connections, poor readings, etc. and make repairs or upgrades before these concerns become larger issues.

Cleaning

Nobody likes housekeeping, but it is crucial to the health of your plant; especially if your plant has high dust contents. By simply conducting spring cleaning of your electrical system equipment (usually conducted during a scheduled shutdown) in order eliminate any downtime associated with this work. General “housekeeping” (removal of debris in MCC buckets, etc.) and exercising breakers are some common items that can help protect the electrical health of your plant.

It is important to make the electrical health and preventative maintenance of your plant a top priority. Just remember, with a little elbow grease you may be able to identify and prevent an electrical failure at your facility.

What other methods have you found successful in maintaining the electrical health of your plant?