Electrical Preventative Maintenance
Electrical Preventative Maintenance
Electrical preventative maintenance in your industrial facility
In the electrical industry, electrical preventive maintenance can be compared much like vehicle maintenance. Every vehicle manufacturer has stages to which components need to be verified or replaced through the life of the vehicle. Similarly, electrical equipment in your industrial facility should be treated the same. However, there is significant complacency out there that once an electrical system is installed, it will provide adequate performance over the life of the system. Preventive maintenance is essential and lack of ignoring the maintenance is often directly related to failures that can trigger unwanted downtime or even cause severe injury or death.
Preventing Electrical Failure
A great deal can go wrong if an electrical distribution system in an industrial facility is not adequately maintained. As electrical loads cycle between high and low demand, thermal expansion and contraction cause connections to loosen. Electrical panels that are never cleaned accumulate dust and dirt that deposit on these connections. The loose and dirty connections provide a high resistance path that are directly responsible for more than 30 percent of electrical failures. On the other hand, the remaining 70% are due to human error. See article.
According to the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), the failure rate of electrical components is three times higher for systems where electrical preventive maintenance is not performed. This tells us that the 70% human error can be avoided and the other 30% can be prevented. But what does an electrical preventive maintenance program entail? Here is a checklist for your commercial building.
It is important that the people who perform your electrical preventative maintenance program be properly trained to work on the equipment being tested. This includes understanding the functionality of the equipment, both electrically and mechanically, and having a thorough knowledge of electrical safety practices and procedures in a commercial and industrial facility. Special training is required for high-voltage equipment and protective relay devices, so this should not be overlooked.
Inspection, Testing, and Servicing
The first step in an electrical preventative maintenance program is a complete thermographic inspection of all electrical equipment prior to the scheduled outage. This survey is a non-invasive method of identifying high temperature excursions which indicate potential problem areas. Ideally, a thermographic inspection should be done during peak-load conditions by a certified and experienced thermographer. In addition, protective relays and circuit breaker trip devices need to be tested and calibrated. Therefore, ensure that the people doing this work have the proper equipment, experience, and training to perform these functions. To sum up, see our article on predictive maintenance program for a list of tasks to perform on your industrial equipment. Likewise, here is an article on proactive maintenance strategies.
Concise and Complete Record-Keeping
This is the most overlooked aspect of the preventative maintenance program. However, a clear record-keeping system will help keep the program cost-effective by ensuring that all the work is being done when it is supposed to be. In addition, tracking of test results is beneficial to communication and effectiveness in staff. That is to say, when it comes to a change in personnel or maintenance staff, everyone is kept up-to-date.
Electrical preventive maintenance is cost-effective in several different ways. Firstly, it is cheaper to make repairs to equipment before it fails. When electrical equipment fails, there is usually subsequent damage to other components in the system. Often the equipment cannot be repaired and must be completely replaced.
In addition, an effective electrical preventative maintenance program will improve equipment efficiency and reduce utility bills. A loose or dirty connection has increased resistance which results in higher power losses. By simply tightening and cleaning electrical connections, you can lower these energy costs. When considered over a period of time, these energy losses can add up to quite a significant amount of money.
If you have been taking your electrical distribution system for granted, it’s probably time for you to implement an electrical preventative maintenance program to your industrial or commercial facility.