What would life be like if the manufacturing plant that supplies your favorite brand of soft drink, beer or bottled water lost power due to a major failure of their power distribution equipment? They probably have a generous supply of inventory to meet the immediate customer demand; but, what if they experience a three-to-four week downtime due to this failure? Could the plant’s reliability team have predicted when a critical electrical system was deteriorating and fix it before it fails? The answer is probably YES!
Companies should conduct a power distribution asset condition assessment to understand the relative health of their critical and essential infrastructure. Some companies will have backup generators to keep the power flowing. However, those backup generators need to be inspected and maintained to insure proper functionality should the need arise and may not protect from all types of equipment failure.
Use of Condition Based Maintenance Programs
These industries recognize the criticality of establishing and performing Condition Based Maintenance Programs on their electrical assets. Routine inspections enable personnel to monitor the health status of critical electrical components and systems. Innovative products and services, called Electrical Maintenance Safety Devices (EMSDs), enable personnel to perform routine electrical inspections of energized assets safely and efficiently. Common types of EMSDs include Maintenance Inspection Windows with Infrared or Infrared and Ultrasound capabilities, Ultrasound Ports and handheld measuring devices, Wireless Temperature Monitoring Systems and Intelligent Asset Tagging Systems Utilizing these tools within a Condition Based Maintenance Program allows the reliability team to routinely and safely perform inspections, collect data, monitor data over time and determine if an electrical asset is starting to deteriorate. These programs allow companies to schedule downtime to fix the asset versus experiencing an unplanned outage and disrupting the company’s operations that will impact revenue and profits.
A thorough analysis of a company’s risks associated with a critical asset failure must be performed to determine if the adoption of a Condition Based Maintenance Program would manage and mitigate failure risks. Employee safety is a primary concern; and, the bottom line revenue and profit/loss statements are also important. Costs of implementing a Condition Based Maintenance program versus costs associated with an unplanned failure and prolonged downtime play a critical part in the analysis.
As part of the maintenance team at your company, you already know that electrical components and assets need to be inspected regularly while under full load. Your company’s Condition Based Maintenance procedures call for inspections of the energized electrical assets in a safe and guarded condition using maintenance inspection windows that allow the infrared camera to “see” the potential points of failure inside your electrical equipment. But, what about targets that are hidden or in hard to reach locations? Can equipment be modified or replaced with solutions that eliminate the hazards of energized electrical inspections? The answer is YES!
Any application that has electrical components that are hidden or hard to reach may benefit from a custom window. In addition, equipment with tight clearances to the panel or door may be better served with a custom panel replacement. Finally, equipment where standard cut-in windows are simply too large or too many windows would be required to see all of the possible targets will be best dealt with via a custom window or replacement panel.
Customizing Your Safer Solution
Custom maintenance inspection windows or custom panels have identical functionality to standard sized or shaped inspection windows or panels. Maintenance teams simply use the same inspection process using a custom window or panel as they use for standard windows or panels. The only difference is that the viewing area is larger or shaped differently so that all of the targets are now visible to the IR camera. Likewise, if the custom window or panel includes ultrasound testing capability, the maintenance team would perform the same ultrasound procedure as on a regular sized or shape window with ultrasound capability.
A company using custom maintenance inspection windows now has the assurance that all of their critical electrical assets will be inspectable without the risk of an unexpected loss of power.
Maintenance inspection windows are commercially available in any size and any shape solely to make critical electrical assets visible to inspection devices like IR cameras or ultrasound testers. Assets that were hidden or in hard to reach locations now are “inspectable”. Companies will implement these custom windows to allow for routine inspections to detect assets that are deteriorating and schedule a planned maintenance event to repair the fault. Proactive Condition Based Maintenance procedures prevent unplanned downtime and potential loss of revenue.
Six months ago, a new engineer was hired as the head of the Heath & Safety department at your company. He has initiated weekly, hour-long training sessions for the maintenance team, focusing on new models for conducting electrical asset maintenance and safety inspections. A few of the sessions concentrated on the NFPA 70E 2018 guidelines that outline new electrical safety standards in the workplace. The company has decided to begin the transition to a Condition Based Maintenance program utilizing both infrared and ultrasound technologies. At a recent reliability conference, you were introduced to a maintenance inspection window that allows both infrared and ultrasound testing to be performed with a single device. Since the company will incorporate both infrared and ultrasound technologies, you decided to search for information on this single inspection window that offers dual capabilities. Let’s see what your search has uncovered.
When electrical distribution equipment fails, the results can be catastrophic to a company. Workplace injuries and fatalities could occur. A company’s profit margin can be negatively impacted by unscheduled downtime causing lost productivity and lost revenue. Besides large fines from governing bodies, the company could face large worker’s compensation payouts and civil litigation. Companies constantly search for products to mitigate the risk of equipment failure and improve the safety in the work environment.
Electrical asset inspections can be performed while the asset is under full load but in a safe and guarded condition. Frequent inspections of these assets will provide a data history allowing the maintenance team to routinely assess the health of an electrical asset and determine when that asset needs to be repaired or replaced. Utilizing both infrared and ultrasound technology, the maintenance team can perform these inspections safely and routinely using a single maintenance inspection window without opening any panels.
Is there a single maintenance inspection window that provides both infrared and ultrasound capabilities?
The answer is YES! There is a manufacturer in the United States that designed a Maintenance Inspection Window that allows the maintenance team to take high quality infrared thermograms and listen to and record ultrasound waves on electrical equipment. These Windows are compliant with many of the stringent global Standards such as UL, CSA, CE, etc. This Window incorporates a patented Poly-View System™ polymer for infrared inspection and an ultrasound port or embedded sensor all the while maintaining a safe, closed and guarded condition for the inspection team. Another main feature of this Window is the ability to customize into any size or shape needed to get the inspection job done. These Maintenance Inspection Windows are truly a “Safety by Design” tool as outlined in NFPA 70E 2018.
This single Maintenance Inspection Window with dual inspection technologies is gaining popularity as a key critical product used in a Condition Based Maintenance program. Companies are continuously searching for solutions to mitigate risk, reduce operating costs and increase productivity. Companies recognize that preventing equipment failures by performing proactive maintenance inspections saves them time and money in the long run. A single Maintenance Inspection Window that offers both Infrared and Ultrasound capability are cost effective and prove to be a critical tool in a Condition Based Maintenance Inspection model.