Predictive testing, such as thermography, ultrasonic analysis are significant components of any EPM program, but by themselves they do not make a complete maintenance program. Testing provides the feedback to the specialist before conducting the maintenance. A solid EPM program should include de-energized maintenance at least every 3 years on critical equipment, including the incoming electrical service from the utility. Cleaning, exercising, lubricating, relay testing and breaker testing are conducted during a de-energized state. Getting deep inside the equipment to check cable connections and torque bus connections is done only in the de-energized mode. Electrical Condition Reports are the main focus when establishing weather an existing installation is safe for continued use, these reports will also show possible latent defects in certain circuits and equipment which once established and corrected will prevent possible dangerous occurrences and or break downs.
Where Do I Start?
First, any maintenance program must include an inventory of the system and then identification of critical loads. That helps you set your priorities. If you have up-to-date one-line diagrams of your electrical distribution system, it will help tremendously and save time. If you do not have current up-to-date one-line diagrams, then it should become a priority to develop them when you contract with the electrical service company. One-line diagrams are particularly important if a failure occurs and there is a need to install temporary power or to wire around in order to return the facility to operation. In general, an EPM program starts at the main service entrance and works its way down into the distribution system. Identify critical areas and loads that must be protected. This again helps you set priorities assuring you are focused on the most important exposures.
Reporting Findings and Taking Corrective Action.
Documentation is critical with electrical systems. Your contractor should provide you with a comprehensive report on every component maintained, with the results of all testing and a complete record of maintenance performed. The best programs can provide it on your desk top computer workstation, giving you detailed information on every component in your system, such as nameplate information, history, loading and trend analysis.
Such electronic inventory and reporting can prove to be invaluable should a component fail. When you call your contractor, you can advise him or her of the exact detail of what is broken and in all likelihood, the contractor can have the parts on the truck when they arrive.
How Much Will It Cost?
Cost is always important and will vary by the size and complexity of the system, the environment in which it operates and the budgetary considerations of the business. While there are many published articles on cost justification, industry experts believe a good EPM program will pay for itself through energy savings, improved power quality, improved plant up-time and reduction in risk. A good EPM service contractor can help you develop a cost benefit analysis to justify implementation costs.
Electrical distribution systems are the most critical segment of any facility infrastructure because, without this equipment, almost everything else stops. Whether it’s the HVAC system / expensive production machines or computer systems they all need electric power to operate. Yet electrical distribution systems are often the most overlooked equipment. Through education and awareness, we see a clear shift in understanding of the need for an EPM program and a desire to change.