Downsizing. Layoffs. Budget cuts. Belt-tightening. These are all-too-familiar phenomena. The persistently sluggish economy is driving industry to protect profitability by trimming costs while maintaining target productivity and product delivery levels. It's a tightrope walkone that demands a careful assessment of the plant's assets and systems and a shrewd determination to contribute true value to the organization as a whole.
Increasingly, plants are discovering the benefits of a fuse protection review. By assessing existing protection, consolidating inventories and upgrading circuits to more versatile Class RK1, J and CC fuses with superior current-limiting protection, many plants have found an innovative, low-cost, high-impact means of protecting its profitability and truly important assets: valuable staff members and mission-critical equipment. Executed properly, this process delivers an optimized fuse protection system and establishes a controlled spares system and replenishment routine that ensures the plant continues to reap benefits.
Right solution, right time
Although many plant managers will concede their circuit protection system may not be as well controlled as it could be, some may ask, "What exactly makes now the right time for an overhaul?"
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Simply put, the answer is a combination of economic and regulatory forces. Fuse overcurrent protection is often overlooked, but fuses play a critical role in plant electrical systems and manufacturing processes. A properly sized fuse and coordinated system
keeps people safe, maximizes productive uptime and wards off costly worker's compensation filings, potential lawsuits and regulatory penalties. By ensuring its overcurrent protection is up-to-date, a plant can make a big impact on its bottom line.
More than that, the overall importance of plant safety has come into sharper focus in recent years. OSHA, for example, is increasingly aggressive in its pursuit of workplace safety violations. In addition, the latest versions of NFPA 70E and IEEE 1584focusing on arc-flash hazards and the incident energy to which plant personnel may be exposedemphasize the importance of safety within the plant environment even further. Upgrading circuits to Type "2" current-limiting protection helps improve plant safety significantly and can reduce the risks of arc-flash hazards. When one considers the minimal effort and expense required to conduct the review in conjunction with a trusted local distributor or manufacturer's representative, it's easy to recognize why a fuse protection review is a reasonable low-cost, high-impact solution for these tough economic times.
Clutter = cost
The survey starts with a visit to the plant's storeroom. The fuse bin inventory reveals the plant's potential for inventory consolidation, cost savings and safety improvements. Most bins contain a dizzying array of fuses, with some dating back to the earliest days of the plant. Prime targets for consolidation and upgrade include older fuses, such as Classes H and K, midget fuses and Class RK5s for protecting mechanical motor starters.
These only provide Type "1" protection. They protect equipment and personnel from explosions and fire, but leave equipment vulnerable to damage from short circuits. Consolidating and upgrading provides the immediate benefits of enhanced protection, reduced downtime and a streamlined inventory.
Accumulated over the years as new equipment was installed and commissioned, the various types and sizes of spare fuses in many plant storerooms contribute to downtime, add unnecessary costs and needlessly jeopardize the plant's circuit protection system. In the worst cases, it's easier for technicians to order new fuses than to sift through their bins searching for the correct replacement. This failure to turn-over existing fuse inventory not only adds unnecessary cost, it raises the potential for unintentional protection downgrades that may expose the plant to additional costs in downtime, worker injuries and expensive component replacement.
The fuse protection review helps eliminate these risks and introduces positive changes in workplace and business practices that go straight to the bottom line.
Modern fuses provide Type "2" protection.
Less is more
Think of it as using a smaller inventory to yield better protection.
Consolidating and upgrading can yield as much as a 25-percent inventory reduction, with exceptional cases producing as much as a 50-percent reduction in standing inventory. Uncluttered fuse bins not only minimize confusion and reduce the potential for misapplications, but also simplify reordering and restocking. This alone is an improvement in the plant's fuse protection scheme, but some of the most compelling benefits are the performance advantages fuses featuring modern Type "2" protection have to offer.