Industrial Engineering

Safer, Smarter and More Productive Electrical Maintenance

Safer, Smarter and More Productive Electrical Maintenance
Plant Engineering Magazine July 2021
By Nick Schiltz
https://www.plantengineering.com/articles/safer-smarter-and-more-productive-electrical-maintenance/

Temperature on critical assets is typically monitored through periodic inspections that occur just a few times throughout the year on average. These are conducted through periodic (oftentimes bi-annual) thermography inspections by an in-house team or third-party contractor.

However, these inspections are often performed while equipment is in a de-energized state, unless they happen to have infrared (IR) windows installed. If IR windows are present on a switchgear, for example, they can still miss critical connection points that obstruct the IR camera and operator’s view.

While it is important to conduct temperature inspections, the gaps in datasets prove difficult for catching a critical issue that could occur in between inspections. For example, a three-phase induction motor operating above the rated temperature could potentially shorten that equipment’s lifespan by half.

Another important factor in determining the reliability and uptime of an electrical system is the condition of the power distribution equipment such as medium voltage and low voltage switchgear, transfer switches, motor control centers (MCCs) and other critical assets.

For a facility with thousands of critical assets or even a few, regularly checking their operating temperature pays a huge return on investment (ROI) by preventing unexpected shutdowns.

With the benefit of foresight into asset health, maintenance personnel can schedule out repairs as opposed to performing reactive maintenance. Furthermore, being ahead of the curve increases personnel safety as 70% of workplace accidents occur during reactive maintenance scenarios.

The result is real-time insights into equipment health with the ability to issue alerts when anomalous temperatures are detected, allowing maintenance teams to safely prepare and schedule out repairs as opposed to responding to unplanned downtime.