Electrical failures often can be avoided and good preventative maintenance programs can help predict the imminent failure of equipment. According to the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), the failure rate of electrical equipment is three times higher when electrical preventive maintenance programs are not performed. This tells us that electrical failures can be avoided.
But what should be included in a good electrical preventative maintenance program (EPM). There are so many things that could be done. Equipment maintenance, cleaning, and thermal imaging are just a few of the things to be considered. However, where does one put the priority? Just consider the top causes of failure in electrical system: loose connections, improperly installed parts, defective/inadequate insulation, foreign objects causing short-circuiting, overloading inadequate capacity, and the accumulation of dust, dirt and oil. All things that can be prevented with routine and systemic electrical inspections.
Common in all these causes of electrical equipment failure is gear not being clean and well maintained. Here are things to keep in mind when developing an EPM.
- Keep your gear clean. The buildup of dirt and metal debris in an electrical enclosure can cause arcing and arc flash explosions. A second issue brought about by the buildup of dirt and debris is an increase in heat and the temperature of the electrical equipment. Restricted airflow and an increase in the temperature of gear decreases the quality and usable life of the equipment. Finally, a dirty environment also creates a hospitable home for rodents and vermin. Dust is not your only enemy in dirty environments and lurking to cause problems.
- Keep your gear tight. Loose connections are a major cause of electrical failures. Greater than 75% of the problems uncovered during routine thermal imaging inspections are loose connections. Thermography (infrared scanning) is a common way to identify areas that need repair but must be done while the gear is energized. While the gear is off and being cleaned why not take an extra minute to check and tighten those loose connections.
If you have more questions or are looking for ideas and more information on best practice electrical preventative maintenance programs give the experts at Thompson Automation and Specialty Services a call today. Given their 85+ years of experience as an electrical contractor, Thompson specializes in the development of custom electrical preventative maintenance programs for customers across the country. Thompson understands the importance of keeping facilities safe, efficient and operating at peak performance and can custom tailor a program for you.