The 3 “Ps” to Protect Your Electrical Power Distribution System
Electrical System Predictive & Preventative Maintenance through Proactive Infrared Inspections
When dealing with electrical power distribution systems, the issues and/or temperature warning signs are not always visible to facility personnel or electrical contractors, who routinely work on the equipment, and could only be found by conducting an infrared scan.
The purpose of an electrical infrared inspection, most commonly conducted in industrial and commercial buildings, is to proactively and quickly “reveal objectionable electrical conditions” via obtaining a real time picture, using special thermal imaging camera.
Imaging cameras are used to inspect, test and measure the vulnerability of certain areas within the power distribution system and the associated electrical equipment.
The measurements obtained enables the facility personnel to detect and make a comparison of criteria values, within the power system, and provides data to make informed critical business decisions including: reducing costs associated with accidents and safety; downtime and lost revenue; added maintenance labor and purchase of new equipment due to malfunctions. Furthermore, the facility manager or building owner can develop an efficient, systematic and well organized process improvement plan.
Electrical Engineers can use these measurements as the cornerstone of understanding the electrical infrastructure deficiencies and potential hazards. In this case, the critical measurement comparison is temperature, the current state of electrical equipment temperature, measured against the optimal or ideal performance “operable temperature”, within the power distribution system. The temperature is derived based on the amount of thermal energy detected by the infrared camera. The camera doesn’t detect temperature directly. It detects the thermal energy that is released from electrical distribution equipment and connections compared to adjacent objects.
The thermal images (pictures and data) are then analyzed, to create an easy to understand diagnosis, determined anomalies, or deviations of temperature from the normal operation or predicted standard. If an electrical anomaly exists, the thermal energy measurement and/or if the temperature reading difference is greater than industry published standards, these problem areas should then be recorded noting the condition.
“A Stitch In Time Saves Nine”
It is important to document the findings for in depth review and to ensure the system is performing at optimal levels because it is the unknown and unforeseen that can become exponentially more costly to a facility and can blow the annual budget if not addressed.
Proactive power distribution system testing and analysis can help to spearhead and identify flawed, broken or malfunctioning: motor bearings, electrical equipment and devices (including but not limited to Panels, Motor Control Centers, Transformers, Switchgear, Generator, UPS equipment, Switches/Breakers, Bus, VFD’s), components and loose connection points, improperly tightened and torqued connections, detect overloaded circuits and any elevated temperatures overheating of equipment or cables (also known as hot spots), phase imbalances, and possibly incorrectly installed equipment, to name a few. All of which may cause electrical system disruptions and expensive expenditures due to but not limited to outages and downtime, equipment failure, costs associated with employee safety, accidents and emergencies, explosions or fire.