Preventing Electrical Failure

A great deal can go wrong if an electrical distribution system is not properly maintained. As electrical loads cycle between high and low demand, thermal expansion and contraction cause connections to detach. Electrical panels that are never cleaned would increase dust and dirt that could deposit on these connections. The loose and dirty connections give a high resistance path that are directly responsible for more than 30 percent of electrical failures and 17 percent of electrical failures  applied to live electrical peripherals being exposed to moisture.

With a comprehensive electrical preventive maintenance program, both of these conditions which account for almost half of all electrical losses can correct.

Causes of Electrical Distribution System Failure

  • Loose Connections/parts
  • Moisture
  • Line Disturbance (other than lightning)
  • Defective/inadequate insulation
  • Lightning
  • Foreign objects/short circuiting
  • Collision
  • Overloading/inadequate capacity
  • Accumulation of dust, dirt and oil

The percentage of failure in electrical peripherals is three times higher for systems when protective maintenance failed to execute. This shows us those electrical failures for the most part to avoid. But what does an Electrical Preventive Maintenance program entail? There are points to consider:

Qualified Personnel  

It is important that the people who execute your Electrical Preventive Maintenance program should properly trained to work on the specific equipment being maintained or tested. This includes understanding the process of the equipment, both electrically and mechanically, and having a thorough knowledge of electrical safety practices and strategies. Special training is essential for high-voltage equipment and protective relay devices, so this should not overlook.

Regular Scheduled Inspection, Testing, and Servicing of Equipment

An Electrical Preventive Maintenance program should execute on usual basis. The period between works depends on the environmental conditions, preference of the equipment and its loading and use. However, Electrical Preventive Maintenance should execute at least once every three years — and more often for critical peripherals. Initial move in an Electrical Preventive Maintenance Program is a thermographic inspection of all electrical equipment proceeding to scheduled outage. This study is a non-invasive method of analyzing high temperature excursions that would specify potential problem is because of loose or dirty connections, load imbalances and improper installation of equipment. Primary process in an Electrical Preventive Maintenance program is a thermographic examination of all electrical equipment proceeding to usual outage. This study can be a non-invasive method of analyzing high temperature excursions that would specify possible problem is because of detach or dirty connections, load imbalances and improper installation of equipment. This basic step helps in determining the resources you need during your planned outage to execute Electrical Preventive Maintenance. Ideally, a thermographic inspection should do during peak load conditions by a certified, experienced thermographer.  Plans should make to have all circuit breakers and disconnect switches repeatedly opened and closed during the shut-down period to make sure proper operation. In addition, protective relays and circuit breaker trip devices need to test and calibrate on a usual basis. Different test sets are often needed for the various equipment depending on the manufacturer and the age of the devices. Therefore, make sure that the people doing this work have the proper equipment, experience, and training to execute these functions. Oil filled transformers, circuit breakers and detach switches would have samples of the insulating oil screen tested as a method of analyzing possible problems with those peripherals. Transformer oil should also undergo dissolved gas analysis to analyze specific adverse conditions present inside the unit. Equipment insulated with SF 6 gas should inspect and leak-test to make sure the safety of the gas system.

Sound Judgment in Evaluating Results

It is imperative that the person reviewing the test reports of the thermographic inspection or the equipment tests have a thorough understanding of the specific subject. This is important so that informed, responsible decisions made on how best to correct the conditions found. For example, the results of transformer oil testing may point out

The need to take action such as reclaiming or replacing the oil. The decision as to which alternative to take needs made by an informed single.

Perform the Necessary Work  

This seems like an obvious point, but often it is not done. It does little good to have testing and inspection done to analyze problem areas if you have no intention of fixing the problems. Basic checking and inspection help to point out resources on the critical tasks, but extremely you need to have scheduled outage to execute the necessary work. The fundamental concept of Electrical Preventive Maintenance is simple: Keep it clean, dry and tight. Make sure to check all equipment for evidence of deterioration exercise mechanisms to make sure proper operation, clean and tighten all electrical connections and equipment enclosures.

Concise and Complete Record-Keeping

This is the most overlooked aspect of Electrical Preventive Maintenance. However, a clear record-keeping system will help keep the Electrical Preventive Maintenance program cost-effective by ensuring that all the work is complete at the right time. In addition, tracking of test results over time can often analyze a potential failure that can correct before it happens.

Electrical Preventive Maintenance Is Best-Effective

Electrical Preventive Maintenance is profitable in different ways. First, it is cheaper to make repairs to equipment before it fails. When electrical equipment fails, particularly protective devices like circuit breakers or relays, there is usually consecutive damage to other peripherals in the system. Usually the equipment cannot repair and replaced completely. New equipment does not always replace the failed peripheral in-kind and may need other changes to make the system whole.

Failed equipment results in unplanned outages that are very expensive when replacement equipment cannot found easily. Instead of having a planned system outage for Electrical Preventive Maintenance at the most convenient time for your operation, equipment failures are always at inopportune times. Emergency repairs are very costly due to the urgency of the situation where temporary work is necessary before a permanent repair execute.

Electrical Preventive Maintenance program increases efficiency of equipment and decrease service bills. An increased resistance due to detach and dirty connection would lead to greater power losses. By simply tightening and cleaning electrical connections you can decrease these energy costs. When considered over a time span, these energy losses will add up to an important amount of money.

If you are taking your electrical distribution system for granted, it’s probably time for you to apply an Electrical Preventive Maintenance program. But don’t wait until the first electrical failure happens, you may not have a system then.

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Written by Praveen

Electrical Preventive Maintenance