How to Avoid Sudden Equipment Power Failures

When ABC Company Maintenance Supervisor, Paul Brown* started his day, he assumed it was “business as usual”. The only exception: an appointment with Dial One Wolfedale Electric for routine Thermographic scans of key pieces of manufacturing equipment. Little did Paul know, that appointment would save ABC Company thousands of dollars in equipment damage and repair costs – and hours of aggravation and stress for Paul and the entire production team.

As a manufacturer of large, heavy duty plastic containers, ABC Company Spare parts for construction equipment used the latest in blow molding equipment. And, since much of that equipment was relatively new, at this stage Paul expected the thermographic scans (to view a sample scan, please click here) to merely provide a baseline measure of the electrical system’s performance. He was right – almost. The Thermographic Inspection Reports confirmed normal operating temperatures for most of the machinery. But things began to heat up, literally, when it came to the lead piece of production equipment.

The Thermographic scan indicated that the reasonably new machine was operating at dangerously high temperatures. The conductor insulation was melting due to the extreme heat and immediate electrical maintenance was required to prevent an unscheduled power outage. If failure occurred, the equipment would not only fail but be vulnerable to “single phasing”, a power reduction that could cause significant damage, extensive downtime and thousands of dollars in lost productivity and emergency electrical services.

Fortunately, the Thermographic Inspection Report (to view a sample Inspection Report, please click here) identified the exact location of the problem, categorizing its temperature rating and repair priority as CRITICAL. The repair was made quickly with an available spare part and in less than an hour a major production stoppage, not to mention thousands of dollars of associated expense, were avoided.

Paul’s story is not unusual – many people think that only aging equipment is at risk for power fluctuations and damage due to overheated circuitry. The fact is, all equipment is vulnerable to these conditions, so the simple step of running a Thermographic scan semi-annually is one electrical solution that every manufacturing environment should adopt in their electrical maintenance plan to ensure both safety and productivity.

*Names have been changed.

Compact Fluorescent Lamps Spark Fire Concerns

Concerns about the end-of-life failure of energy efficient fluorescent light bulbs (Compact Fluorescent Lamps, or CFLs) has prompted a reassuring response from The Electrical Safety Authority (ESA). When CFLs fail they may emit smoke, an odour or a popping sound. The plastic base may even become discoloured, charred or deformed. Certification agencies have advised that this failure does not present a shock or fire hazard for approved products.

It can be difficult to distinguish between what is normal and what isn’t, so ESA encourages replacement of CFLs at the first sign of failure (flickering, a bright orange or red glow, popping sounds, an odour, or browning of the ballast enclosure (base)). Unless otherwise specified, CFLs should not be used in totally enclosed recessed fixtures; with dimmer switches; in touch lamps with photocells or with electronic timers; or where exposed to weather or water.


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