Keep Your Electrical Gear Clean and Tight

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.

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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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

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Is the Risk of an Arc Flash Explosion Worth the Consequences? 

I look at risk as a combination of probability and consequences.   If the probability and consequences of an accident are low, then the risk is low.  If the probability is high and the consequences are high, then the risk is high.  Perceived risks then drive spending and investments and while we can’t put a specific value on reducing risk we ArcFlashLabeltypically will measure an expected Return on Investment (ROI) for what we spend.  If you have not already made the investment to have an Arc Flash Risk Assessment done at your facility you need to know about and consider the probability and consequences.

The probability of an Arc Flash is related to the quality, care, and age of your electrical system.  The consequences of an Arc Flash can be devastating.  Arc Flash explosions are known to cause serious damage to your facility and personnel.  What is the impact to your business if an arc flash explosion shuts your production line or facility down for a day, a week or a month? You need to consider the total financial loss of an accident; costs that include the disruption of your business and to your customers can be substantial.  Regulatory fines alone can be crippling.

An Arc Flash Risk Assessment is required by OSHA and will-full noncompliance can quickly extend fines into the millions of dollars. What about future expenses then like increased insurance rates and injury settlements.  It can be shuttering to consider, but what about the cost of a death of an employee.

The good news in all this, however, is that the cost of having an Arc Flash Risk Assessment done is low.  It’s very hard to place hard numbers on the cost of an accident.  However, if the risk of an accident is rather high but the investment is low, it makes the decision easier to deal with.  An Arc Flash and the resulting explosions can be devastating to your organization and the employee that is not properly prepared or protected against it.  Whether your motivation is to protect your employees, meet the OSHA requirements, or protect against future expenses; having an Arc Flash Risk Assessment completed by qualified and trained professionals is important.  Contact the experienced Arc Flash specialists at Thompson Automation and Specialty Services at 844-321-3869 today to learn more or to have them perform an Arc Flash analysis for your facility.

GEAPS

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Recently, Thompson Automation & Specialty Services participated as an exhibitor, in the National GEAPS (Grain Elevator and Processing Society) Expo in Kansas City, MO.  More than 3000 people from all aspects of the grain industry attended the 3 day event.

Mike Pendergast (Thompson Automation and Specialty Services) and Rob Costello (Thompson Electric) handled the booth duties promoting arc flash awareness, infrared thermal imaging and electrical safety for grain elevators.  Thompson Automation and Specialty Services is using these national expos to create awareness of the dangers of electrical hazards in grain handling facilities.  As a result, owners and operators of grain facilities, are now realizing the dangers of electricity and the need for arc flash risk assessments, electrical surveys and training for their employees.

The interest generated by our presence at the GEAPS Expo, and the follow up from our contacts made at the Expo, emphasizes the growing interest in electrical safety and the need for Thompson Automation and Specialty Services to stay active in the grain industry.