Raise reliability in your power distribution with creative approaches

May 1, 2008
Sheila Kennedy reports that maintenance and repairs must be proactive if they are to ensure electrical quality and reliability.

From motors that power the plant’s inner workings to the underlying interconnected electrical infrastructure, maintenance and repairs must be proactive if they are to ensure electrical quality and reliability. Even on a tight budget, this goal can be achievable. Plants can minimize capital outlay by using testing services rather than purchasing their own devices, and by bundling equipment and financing to complete retrofit projects.

Predictive motor testing: According to Dave Abecunas, director of asset reliability services for Signum Group, the ideal for world-class maintenance organizations today is to have 50% of work dedicated to predictive maintenance, 35% to preventive maintenance, 10% to customer requests and just 5% to emergency work. “Predictive maintenance is the biggest money-saver because it allows you to detect problems while they’re small, schedule maintenance without interrupting production, and avoid the cost of equipment failure.”

He considers motor testing programs an essential component of predictive maintenance. “Because 40% of motor problems are in the circuit, motor circuit evaluation technologies have gained in importance,” Abecunas says. “The newer designs can test any motor in the plant, including the whole circuit as well as the transformer.”

Plants that rarely or never shut down need motor testers that are capable of reading dynamic (online) data as well as static (offline) data. Spare motors sitting on warehouse shelves also need attention. They can deteriorate over time and should be tested periodically to ensure they’ll perform when and as needed.

PdMA Corp. offers portable test equipment capable of testing of any motor type, size, style or condition. The company’s combination unit, MCEMax, conducts both static and dynamic testing. Powered by PdMA’s MCEGold software, the MCEMax integrates motor testing, diagnostics, inventory control, scheduling and cost-containment capabilities.

Technicians can use the MCEMax as a desktop, field, wireless or network tester to test six fault zones — stator, rotor, power quality, power circuit, air gap and insulation. This provides management with enterprise-wide visibility into motor inventory status and analysis through dashboards, messaging and detailed reports. Users can compare and benchmark performance across sites or plants, and drill down to specific condition codes, technician routes and motor summaries.

Motor circuit testing complements traditional predictive technologies. For instance, suspected problems uncovered via thermography or vibration analysis can be resolved through motor circuit evaluation. Motor circuit testing technology is more expensive than the other PdM approaches, but companies unable to make the capital investment can hire motor shops — for example The Snell Group or Industrial Diagnostic Systems & Services LLC — that offer testing as a service.

Aging infrastructure upgrades: Older plants aren’t benefiting from the latest electrical distribution technologies, particularly those developed within the past 10 years. In response, Siemens Energy and Automation (SE&A) offers an array of energy-management devices. The i-3 control technology in Siemens’ P1 Series Lighting Panel, described as one of the smallest “smart” circuit breaker panels in the industry, allows you to control branch lighting circuits automatically using a time schedule, program or building-management system.

Siemens Type WL circuit breakers with Dynamic Arc-Flash Sentry and Extended Instantaneous Protection can greatly reduce arc flash energy for enhanced personnel safety. Siemens ACCESS power-monitoring systems monitor and trend electrical characteristics and track incidents and transients that affect power quality and equipment reliability. The company also offers high-efficiency transformers, variable-frequency drive motors, efficient lighting systems, switchgears and related technologies.

For organizations eager to upgrade aging electrical distribution infrastructures but are constrained by limited tight budgets, SE&A offers Siemens BEST (bundled energy-saving technologies), which bundles financing with the equipment and labor so that companies pay little or no out-of-pocket costs. Siemens Financial Services, a sister company, funds the projects, which are then repaid by the client over time in realized energy savings. Once the financing is satisfied, the client benefits from ongoing energy and cost savings.

Kevin Koder, national marketing manager for apparatus at Siemens, explains, “Older facilities might have electrical systems that are near the end of their design life or technologically obsolete, but the cost to retrofit the infrastructure can be prohibitive. With Siemens BEST, you gain the latest technology by offsetting the cost with energy and efficiency savings, and reduce the risk of failures and extended shutdowns.”

E-mail Contributing Editor Sheila Kennedy, managing director of Additive Communications, at [email protected].

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