Electrical equipment and power distribution systems have never designed or intended to last perpetually energized. All electrical power distribution systems will experience some type of electrical power interruption, whether it will be for scheduled maintenance or unscheduled downtime due to an electrical fault or inoperative equipment.

No matter the demands or insistence of management, 100% power system reliability is never possible because single electrical components that make up a power distribution system will become inoperative at some point during the life cycle of the system.

A lack of routine cleaning, preventative maintenance and equipment testing will greatly accelerate the chance of unscheduled power outages or inoperative electrical equipment. In addition, electrical workers are much more likely to injure during emergency repairs than while performing routine preventative maintenance.

In general terms, “reliability” is a property of a power system that describes the likelihood that the constant system will successfully conduct or execute as designed, constructed and intended. More specifically, “reliability is the statistical probability that the system would able to execute its intended mission.”

The “notion of reliability” is more of a mathematical possibility than an actual physical condition and is resolved from the composite of statistical dysfunctional or in operative rates of single peripherals and configuration of the power system to which they applied. For example, the simplest power distribution system consists of two protective devices connected in series (i.e., a main and feeder over current protective device) to supply power to a load.

Regularl electrical system preventive maintenance program is planned to notice, repair, replace affected electrical components, parts, equipment before they cause to catastrophic damages, vital power interruptions and loss of business functions. According to studies revealed by the Hartford Steam Boiler Insurance Company and FM Global, “Electrical equipment failures account for millions of dollars in damage and lost business per year.”

In fact, lack of a routine preventive maintenance program places a facility in a “run to failure” or “run to breakdown” mode. IEEE Standard 902 cites that “a lack of maintenance eventually leads to failures and a high cost to a plant.”

The rate of electrical damage could as much as three times higher in facilities that do not execute preventive maintenance. In addition, neglecting maintenance and testing may void any equipment warranty (or extended warranty) that is in force as well as negate the terms and conditions of a commercial underwriter’s insurance policy.

It is extremely important to notice that any specific maintenance of separate items of electrical equipment does not guarantee a very integrated and reliable electrical power distribution system. Comprehensive and normal protective service and testing program would associate all electrical power supply equipment regardless of the manufacturer to make sure that electrical equipment and components execute as originally designed and supposed throughout their entire expected operational use life. The intense goal is to diminish equipment malfunction, power outages, and service interruptions to business operations or services. Analysis regarding electrical maintenance programs bring direct correlation between levels of periodic maintenance and the safety of electrical equipment and the power distribution system.

Electrical Panel Proactive Maintenance

Transitioning from a reactive “fix only what is broken” culture to creating a proactive routine preventive maintenance model is a long but sound business process. Before any maintenance program is proposed or contracted, it is strongly recommended that the facility’s management contract and commission the services of a licensed professional electrical engineer to execute short circuit analyses, a time/current allocation study, and an arc flash analysis of the entire electrical power distribution system.

These studies will make sure that the existing electrical equipment is properly rated, set, and labelled. There is starved value in spending limited maintenance budget and resources to clean, manage and service electrical equipment that is later determined as needing to replace or removed from service.

In some circumstances, a power system risk assessment is endorsed proceeding to beginning a preventive maintenance program. The risk assessment can explain safety concerns and poorly maintained equipment, as well as the negative effects of harsh environmental conditions such as inflated temperature, moisture, dirt, polarized dust, and other contaminates on electrical equipment.

A risk assessment provides valuable information about the “present state” of an electrical power distribution system and its associated equipment, its functionality, and reliability related to the present needs of a facility’s operations.

A key feature of a power system risk assessment is the hazard vulnerability analysis, which prioritizes the recommended corrective actions based upon safety and the seriousness of a facility’s operations. A power system risk assessment facilitates development of a proposed maintenance schedule specific to a facility’s power distribution system. In addition, cost estimates given to help management develop a budget to execute the maintenance activities

Electrical Panel Maintenance Contractors

An industrial facility’s electrical infrastructure typically consists of service entrance switch gear and switchboards, distribution panel boards, power panels, motor control centres, various sized circuit breakers, distribution transformers, fused disconnect switches, PDU, UPS units, battery banks, standby generators, paralleling switch gear, switchboards, and automatic transfer switches.

Therefore, very few electrical maintenance or contracting companies can execute all required maintenance activities for an electrical distribution system. A professional electrical engineer can help facility management with the choice of a qualified electrical maintenance contractor.

This has mentioned before but is worth repeating: Any specific maintenance of separate pieces of electrical equipment does not guarantee a completely integrated power distribution system. Therefore, when establishing a preventive maintenance program, it is strongly recommended that a detailed scope of work be drafted about the equipment and types of testing and maintenance to execute.

This helps to make sure the maintenance service provider and facility management in agreement with the scope of work to execute. Recommended electrical equipment to integrate into a regularly scheduled preventative maintenance contract should include:

  • Monitor equipment
  • Switch boards and panel boards
  • Uninterruptible power supply systems
  • Metering equipment
  • Motor control centres
  • Bus way
  • Protective relays
  • Transformers
  • Stand-by generators and associated service entrance switch gear
  • Automatic transfer switches
  • Optional paralleling equipment.

The maintenance contract also needs to clarify that the scope of work meets:

  • Local code requirements and manufacturers’ recommendations, and
  • Accepted industry standards for electrical workplace safety.
Written by Praveen

Electrical Panel Annual Maintenance Contract