Electrical Safety & Reliability in 3 Steps

The critical importance of electrical power to every aspect of our world cannot be exaggerated. It must be generated and distributed effectively to end-users, and any disruption in that process means loss of operations, money, and in extreme cases, life. Therefore, the reliability of electrical power creation and distribution must be continually safeguarded and improved.

Electricians working on an industrial power distribution center while supervisor watches. All work being performed according with industry code and safety standards.

Adopting a “Monitor, Inspect, & Manage” approach is a proactive way to avoid the concerns at hand by maximizing the value of workforce time and skill. Scalability is no longer an issue when, instead of going through the time and cost of expanding their workforce, they can apply condition-based reliability technologies to maximize their available workforce skills and availability. These Reliability Technologies can be specified with the specification engineer and Original Equipment Manufacturer at the initial design/build stage or retrofitted into existing equipment through a simple and inexpensive process.

Monitor

With the use of a wireless temperature monitoring system, asset conditions can be continually collected, trended, and assessed. Monitors feed data through a gateway to software and apps, allowing the information to be continuously accessed from workstations and mobile devices.

When the asset condition data exceeds the custom parameters, alarms can notify electrical technicians of a possible issue that may require inspection. Keeping human interaction with equipment to only instances where confirmation inspections of potential faults are deemed necessary minimizes workers’ risk and eliminates the human-error threat to asset functionality.

 

Inspect

Once the wireless monitoring system notifies technicians of a possible issue with a transformer or other piece of electrical equipment, the use of pre-installed inspection windows on the asset allows a safe, efficient method of inspecting and assessing any possible issue during an energized condition. Once solely designed for thermographic inspections using infrared cameras, advancements in manufacturing have led to the inclusion of ports that allow for ultrasound and partial discharge technologies to be incorporated into the inspection. Visual, infrared, and ultrasound inspections can be done simultaneously by a single employee.

Additionally, this design protects inspectors from arc flash/electrocution risk, removes the need for bulky and expensive PPE, and allows the inspection to be accomplished more efficiently. Not only does this represent a significant process improvement driven by original design, but it also falls in line with the most recent NFPA 70E updates and continues to protect critical assets from human interaction/mistakes that may cause failure.

 

Manage

The data collected during inspection can be stored through intelligent asset management tags attached to the pre-installed inspection windows. From the asset location, information can be transmitted into a dashboard system accessible from workstations and mobile devices.

Customizable routes can be established before, and condition reports generated after data analysis to further increase efficiency. These designed aspects allow managers to assess operations and decide how best to increase Mean Time Between Failure (MTBF).

Conclusions

From the inception of equipment design and manufacture, all possible measures to ensure asset reliability should be specified and implemented. These measures should prove themselves to be learnable, repeatable, and continued throughout any workforce changes to cement the successful practices into the very culture of the role requirements.

Critical electrical power assets being monitored remotely cut down on technicians’ routine tasks focused on engineering and electrical operations by providing around-the-clock coverage. When an alarm notification is received, correctly designed and installed inspection windows allow an individual technician to easily do visual, infrared, and ultrasound, and partial discharge assessments of the energized equipment. The data collected on the asset can then be stored, trended, and analyzed through the management software. This process increases the Mean Time Between Failure (MTBF) by allowing for planned shutdown and maintenance only when it is necessary.

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