How To Optimize the Maintenance Budget and Reduce Unplanned Downtime

Over time, wear and tear accumulates on electrical equipment and that can lead to unplanned downtime. And, we all know that downtime is waste.

We can safely assume that the major benefits of preventative maintenance are about reducing planned and unplanned downtime, but optimizing a maintenance budget may include this one simple trick: Save time by automating tedious processes or work to make them more efficient.

When electrical maintenance needs to happen, NFPA 70E requires that workers establish and verify equipment is in an electrically safe state. This involves a test for absence of voltage, which – with handheld portable testers, is time-consuming.

The VeriSafe™ Absence of Voltage Tester (AVT) ensures the entire process of verifying absence of voltage is performed in the proper sequence every time. The process performed by the VeriSafe AVT tests the tester itself, verifies installation, checks for voltage, and retests the tester and installation; at the push of a button with no risk of exposure to electrical hazards.

With Panduit’s new VeriSafe AVT, testing for absence of voltage is now safer, easier, and more efficient . The VeriSafe AVT helps the maintenance budget in that it enables employees to verify an electrically safe work condition in a fraction of the time compared to using hand-held portable test instruments. When the maintenance budget is already spread thin, every little bit helps. And, when employees are able to move from job to job and task to task with confidence in their own safety, their time is better spent.

Optimizing a maintenance budget boils down to putting a priority on planning (and planning ahead). Planning for safety is an important first step in maintenance modernization. And, when safety matters, the VeriSafe AVT ensures the entire absence of voltage verification process is performed with reliable results every test, every time.

Smart Business 2018: Prioritizing Electrical Safety for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals

These days, smart businesses prioritize electrical safety. To maximize the benefit of electrical safety with regard to maintenance and reliability in the plant, it’s important to consider the allocation of resources.

When it comes to equipment maintenance, choose reliability over risk. Neglecting the maintenance of electrical equipment and wiring can lead to non-compliance with installation codes and practices, but it can also increase the probability of workplace injury.

Today, the smart business choice is to lean into safety.

It can be said that electrical professionals may be knowledgeable about electrical technology and how electrical equipment functions, but they may not be seasoned experts in safety management and maintenance and reliability systems. And, maintenance and reliability professionals may be highly skilled in understanding and implementing functional equipment, but they may not be familiar with safety management or the facility’s electrical systems.

A facility’s senior management may not have deep expertise in either of these areas, but they do hold the key to financial resources and human resources that can solve for issues of importance, like electrical safety. Therefore, their collective skills and responsibilities can create facility-wide collaboration to improve both the electrical safety program and the electrical system maintenance with an eye on uptime.

Smart businesses also put a significant emphasis on eliminating energized work, whenever possible. This means placing equipment in an electrically safe working condition and verifying that equipment is deenergized must be a primary focus of the electrical safety program.

Lockout/tagout is a critical step in verifying the absence of voltage

Every step to verify the absence of voltage is purposefully designed to serve as a critical safety step.

Eliminating a hazard is the most effective method according to the hierarchy of risk controls, and should be the first choice whenever possible. NFPA 70E emphasizes the need to work on electrical systems only when they are placed in an electrically safe working condition, but creating and verifying this condition requires more than just de-energizing, as it involves multiple steps to confirm the system is safe and verify the absence of voltage.

Though the entire testing process may seem complex, every step is purposefully designed to serve as a critical safety step, making it impossible to skip testing steps and still attain an electrically safe working condition.

Absence-of-voltage testers (AVTs) are permanently-mounted testing devices that are specifically designed to determine if a circuit part is de-­energized prior to opening panels or removing covers to access and maintain electrical equipment.

AVTs are a new product listing category in UL 1436, Standard for Outlet Circuit Testers. They are designed to automatically run internal diagnostics and administer the live-dead-live type of verification testing with an internal known voltage source and actively indicate the absence of voltage.

AVTs help improve electrical safety by way of a Prevention through Design approach, making them an ideal option for maintenance and reliability professionals and their staff.

Why Your Electrical Infrastructure is Too Important Not to Be a Maintenance Priority

The electrical infrastructure of a building, including distribution and controls, is the heart of any facility.

 

Too often, electrical systems aren’t always given the maintenance priority they might deserve. Today, we understand the importance of why the electrical infrastructure is critical to doing business and why plant safety can be enhanced with a little thought and planning.

For the majority of electrical work that happens in a facility, including scheduled maintenance, de-energizing the system is the fundamental requirement for safety. The electrical infrastructure of a building, including distribution and controls, is the heart of any facility. Without a reliable source of electricity, production would not be possible. So, what can be done to make electrical system maintenance a priority?

Schedule regularly, avoid spontaneity.
Even with the critical nature of electrical equipment, regularly scheduled maintenance needs to be a primary focus. Facility managers don’t often think about maintenance until a disruption, like an equipment failure, occurs within the system.

Neglecting regular maintenance of electrical equipment, especially over a long period of time, may lead to a disruption in facility operations and possibly a damaging system failure or an incident. Reliable equipment will increase safety and decrease property risks.

Don’t overlook the obvious.
Electrical equipment, especially what modern facilities are installing today, is well-designed, it’s safe to operate and it generally has a long service life. By nature, electrical systems are usually hidden from sight.

Thus, when it’s out of sight, it’s out of mind – awareness may not be raised as long as lights turn on and everything operates as it normally would. Even new equipment requires a proactive maintenance and service program and then it needs to be inspected to ensure it is properly installed, functioning and can be well maintained.

The Electrical System Can’t Always Speak for Itself.
Though sensors and condition-based monitoring are becoming more and more common, particularly thermal monitoring of critical electrical infrastructure, a fair amount of electrical equipment in use today still can’t warn us when a failure is imminent.

It could be less disruptive to operations if workers could identify equipment that is about to fail, before the failure occurs, so proper steps could be taken to prevent or minimize the downtime impact to people, processes, equipment and operations.

Regular maintenance is required to ensure that equipment can be operated as expected. For example, contacts that are not regularly exercised have a tendency to stick, or not open at all, leading to longer clearing times than expected.

Plan for maintenance.
While de-energizing equipment is a fundamental requirement for electrical safety, de-energizing by its nature is disruptive to facility operations. Thus, it is best to anticipate and plan for maintenance.

A conscious plan for maintenance is far financially advantageous to the other option, when unplanned maintenance occurs when least expected. It also may be helpful knowing that a facility-wide shutdown is happening, so steps can be taken to ensure operational disruptions will be minimized.

Maintenance shutdowns have a cost and require planning, so it’s important to anticipate the need and even budget appropriately. If the facility does not have trained and qualified electrical workers to perform the system maintenance, then many qualified service companies exist and can offer these services.

Planned maintenance has the distinct advantage of making sure that experts can be present. Some equipment manufacturers can even be onsite to assist customers with large PM programs when maintenance is scheduled in advance and not unplanned.