Achieving New Goals: Maximize Uptime With an Enhanced Electrical Safety Program

Downtime is a killer to the bottom line. Whether planned or unplanned, downtime idles the workforce, slows production numbers, and can create downstream effects that may cause major disruptions to the supply chain.

How does the electrical safety program in your facility maximize uptime?

First, it’s important to bear in mind that although scheduled maintenance will create some amount of downtime, when maintenance is planned downtime can be minimized. Planned maintenance allows adequate time for pre-work safety assessments to be completed without the stressful time pressures that are commonly associated with unplanned downtime.

Taking time to plan for maintenance work creates opportunities to identify hazards, perform risk assessments, incorporate any mitigation techniques, review procedures and areas where training may need to be refreshed, and think about emergency response before work is underway. Thoroughly planning the work from start to end, as well as to complete any prerequisite job briefings and communicating planned actions to affected individuals, helps ensure the work goes safely and smoothly. Uptime is effectively maximized because safety inevitably achieves a decrease in incidents and thus scheduled work and production work can continue unabated.

Manufacturing facility floorplan

How does the electrical safety program in your facility maximize uptime?

In industrial facilities, it’s also important to remember that maintaining electrical equipment is fundamental to optimizing equipment performance that will prevent unplanned downtime. Reliability and safety are closely linked. In terms of electrical safety, reliable equipment requires less maintenance. Because reliable equipment is not being accessed as frequently, there are fewer occasions for workers to be exposed to hazards.

Panduit’s new VeriSafe Absence of Voltage Tester (AVT) can be used as a method of testing and verifying the absence of voltage once equipment has been de-energized. This product utilizes technology that reduces procedure testing time and reduces complexity in a way that improves productivity and maximizes uptime. In addition, because it is installed and mounted permanently on the outside of electrical equipment, it reduces the risk of exposure to electrical hazards for improved worker safety.

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.