Wednesday, September 26, 2018

What Are Electrical Maintenance Safety Devices [EMSD]?

Your company decided to switch from a calendar-based maintenance program to a condition-based maintenance program for all electrical assets with a go-live date in 120 days. During a maintenance team meeting, your supervisor stated that electrical maintenance safety devices will be utilized in the new condition-based maintenance program. Various members of the team asked, “What are electrical maintenance safety devices?”

cap-b-inuse-1Companies have always searched for ways to mitigate risk, reduce operating costs and increase productivity. Companies in industries like power generation, marine and maritime, processing and manufacturing, 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, it can cause catastrophic situations. As a result, companies adopt a condition-based maintenance program using critical asset surveillance technologies to predict when an asset will fail and implement preventive repairs before the failure takes place.

Electrical equipment requires periodic maintenance 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 causing downtime and, sometimes severe injury or loss of life.

Innovative technologies have emerged that improve the efficiency of electrical inspections by using electrical maintenance safety devices [EMSD]. 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 analyses 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.

Proactive vs. Reactive


Types of EMSD Devices

Some EMSDs add efficiency and safety to the inspection and maintenance processes while others provide continuous monitoring to detect problems earlier. Some track equipment maintenance data helping the team determine trends and patterns.

1. Infrared Windows: windows placed at inspection points like cable connections enable viewing in the visual, ultraviolet, shortwave, midwave and longwave IR spectrums

2. Ultrasonic Ports and Detectors: used to detect partial discharge associated with arcing and tracking in electrical distribution systems and switchgear

3. Online Monitoring Systems: continuous temperature, power quality, ultrasound, Partial Discharge (PD) or vibration monitoring devices detect early warning signs

4. Intelligent Asset Tags: 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 processes. They cannot afford unplanned failures leading to downtime, nor can they afford the downtime required to perform traditional inspections. Improved operational reliability and productivity can be accomplished by implementing an inspection strategy that uses electrical maintenance safety devices [EMSDs] to monitor, maintain and anticipate problems with their electrical systems.

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