Condition Based Strategies for Electrical Asset Reliability

Companies have always searched for ways to mitigate risk, reduce operating costs and increase productivity. Companies in industries like power generation, pulp & paper, pharmaceutical, food & beverage, oil & gas, mining and data centers have numerous electrical assets on-site to maintain operations. A subset of these assets is critical to operations – they usually do not have a backup system and, if they fail, can cause catastrophic situations. Companies are adopting condition based maintenance programs using innovative products to predict when an asset will fail and implement preventive repairs before the failure takes place.

Electrical equipment requires periodic inspections to maintain normal operations. These inspections must often be performed on the assets operating under full load conditions. The inspections require direct access or direct line of sight to the energized components inside the electrical system. Traditionally, these inspections were time-intensive and required access panels to be opened which can be extremely dangerous to the personnel performing the inspection. The inherent safety risk as well as time and cost requirements needed to perform these inspections often led management to push out or cancel a maintenance schedule which could lead to catastrophic asset failures resulting in unplanned downtime.

Innovative technologies have emerged that improve the safety and efficiency of electrical inspections. Electrical Maintenance Safety Devices [EMSDs] maintain an energized compartment’s closed and guarded condition during the inspection process thereby reducing the time needed to complete the inspection and ensuring that the inspectors are not put at risk. These devices allow for more frequent inspections leading to the creation of asset health history files and the capability of performing data trend analysis on the assets. What better way to monitor the health of electrical assets over time, determine when an asset is at higher risk of failing and pre-planning preventive maintenance tasks to fix that asset! Think about the impact EMSDs have on risk mitigation, reducing downtime, reducing operating costs, avoiding unnecessary failure costs and improving productivity.

IRISS’s EMSD Devices
Some EMSDs add efficiency and safety to the inspection and maintenance processes. Others provide continuous monitoring to detect problems earlier. Programs are available that track equipment maintenance inspection data helping the maintenance team determine the health of the electrical assets.

1. Maintenance Inspection Windows: Maintenance Inspection Windows are placed to inspect conductor connections enabling viewing in the visual, ultraviolet, shortwave, midwave and longwave infrared spectrums. Maintenance Windows are also available that offer a combination of infrared and ultrasound capabilities. IRISS also offers custom-sized, large format windows that make previously uninspectable assets inspectable. Custom designs are manufactured from basic measurements and can be color-matched to existing paint finishes. Regardless of size or color, the maintenance inspection windows feature the following:

• Fixed and Stable Transmission – the reinforced polymer windows are unaffected by environmental and mechanical stresses maintaining fixed and stable transmission for the life of the installation

• Certified to The Highest Industry Standards –UL, CE, DNV, ABS, Lloyds, to name a few. IRISS is the only manufacturer of UL Listed custom Infrared Windows and replacement panels.

• Protected by an Unconditional Lifetime Warranty

2. Ultrasonic Ports and Detectors: IRISS’s versatility of ultrasound inspection devices offer choices for any size facility and any sophistication level of maintenance program. Handheld devices are used to detect partial discharge associated with defects in electrical distribution systems and switchgear. Ultrasound detection can be utilized to detect early warning signs of equipment failure and to conduct energy conservation audits. Quickly and Safely perform closed panel airborne Ultrasound inspections of electrical equipment including Switchgear, Switchboards, Panelboards, Transformers, Motor Control Centers and Process Equipment Panels to detect early warning signs such as Arcing, Tracking and Corona.

3. Online Temperature Monitoring Systems: The patented Delta-T Alert™ System is a wireless, selfcontained temperature and humidity monitoring system placed on an electrical enclosure. The system is simple to install and comprises two temperature sensors – one to monitor the electrical enclosure’s interior temperature and the second to monitor the ambient room temperature where the enclosure is located. The data is wirelessly transmitted for analysis and trending and warns the operator of temperature issues within the electrical enclosure before a failure occurs. The Delta T Alert Software offers a license-free dashboard that tracks and trends the data for the maintenance team.

4. Intelligent Asset Tags: The E Sentry Connect ™ platform is an intuitive asset information tagging system. The system utilizes Near Field Communication (NFC) contactless Smart Card technology allowing smart-phone devices with NFC to easily access critical data and saves up-to-date inspection data directly to the asset’s E Sentry Connect Tag via a free App from IRISS. The system can operate on two platforms: a standalone system and a subscription based cloud system. Historical data back-up and complete access to the current status of all assets provides historical data to the inspector so that asset tracking, maintenance history and trend analysis are available at the time of inspection

As electrical systems become more complicated, companies must update and revise their electrical maintenance strategies. They cannot afford workplace safety accidents and unplanned failures leading to downtime. Improved operational reliability and productivity can be accomplished by implementing condition based inspection strategies using the latest technologies and innovations to safely and proactively monitor, maintain and anticipate problems with electrical systems before a failure occurs.

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With over 35 years’ experience, Churchill Controls is the UK’s leading design and manufacturer of lower power radio telemetry systems.