Since electrical equipment issues are often silent and hidden, it’s easy to ignore maintenance, especially on a huge construction site. But, improper maintenance and lack of it are among the main causes of electrical equipment failures. A comprehensive electrical preventative maintenance (EPM) program can help you prevent issues such as exposure to moisture and lose connections.
If you want to keep your electrical equipment operating reliably, you need to carry out periodic testing, inspection, and maintenance. However, determining the level of maintenance your electrical equipment requires is not so straightforward.
So that you will have a better picture of what level of maintenance your equipment requires, you can use the following guidelines as a baseline.
However, do note that your equipment may require even more thorough and frequent maintenance, depending on the processes and operating conditions involved. Moreover, no guidelines can supplant maintenance recommendations that come from the equipment manufacturer.
1. Motors and generators
- Inspect foundations, mounting bolts, and base plates.
- Check air gap clearances and make adjustments if needed.
- Test and sample oil on forced lubrication sleeve bearings.
- Change oil and clean the chamber on ring lubricated sleeve bearings.
- Lubricate to manufacturer’s specifications if the motor has anti-friction bearings.
- Inspect the cooling system.
- Conduct insulation resistance tests to check the condition of the insulation.
- Once a month, check the condition of the commutator, ringing of brushes, and brush wear and tension.
2. Circuit breakers
Open and close all circuit breakers several times to check their mechanical operation. You should do this every 2 years.
3. Molded case circuit breakers with adjustable trip settings
When carrying out maintenance on these types of circuits, you should use the test instruments recommended by the manufacturer to recalibrate trip settings. Do this every 3 to 5 years.
4. Welding machines and compressors
When it comes to the equipment that falls into these two categories, you should carry out preventative maintenance according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. Perform a complete inspection every 3 months.
5. Machinery and power tools
You need to inspect your machinery and power tools before or after each shift. For instance, if your crew is using pneumatic jackhammers, they should inspect them every day for loose screws, abrasions on the bits, and cracks in hoses. You should perform maintenance work on machinery and power tools according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
6. Cables, wires, and extensions cords
Visually inspect cables, wires, and extension cords every day.
Electrical Preventative Maintenance Program
EPM is more than regular maintenance such as filter changes and bearing lubrication. It is much more thorough. It involves performance testing and analysis as well as regular systematic inspections, replacement, and modification of components. An effective EPM program should lower equipment failure rates and enhance safety on the site. But, you need to exercise good economic judgment for it to pay off. A commercial insurance might be beneficial. And you also need to consider the conditions in which you are using electrical equipment.
Electrical preventative maintenance will help you anticipate wear and tear. It will allow you to ensure that all the equipment you use in hazardous conditions on the construction site is explosion-proof, dust-ignition-proof, and dust-tight. This will lead to extended equipment life, reduction of unexpected breakdowns, and improved equipment reliability.
EPM Program Requirements
To reap all the benefits of your EPM program, you will need to commit to a regular schedule. The NFPA 70B recommends a set of practices for electrical equipment maintenance.
First, you need to appoint qualified and responsible personnel who will conduct the scheduled EPM activities. The person in charge of the maintenance team should have experience in management of maintenance personnel and experience in administrative policies.
If your maintenance manager is someone that lives by the old adage “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” you may find your electrical equipment maintenance needs to be suspiciously low, so it’s very important to find the right person for the job.
Everyone involved in maintenance should be skilled in their respective areas. So that they would be familiar with all the maintenance, testing, and safety procedures, they need to undergo relevant training programs.
For instance, thermographic inspection is the first step of every proper EPM program, and maintenance workers should carry it out before the scheduled outage.
To be able to recognize problematic temperature excursions, they need to know how to handle a thermal imaging camera. They will also need to undergo special training for protective relay devices and high-voltage equipment. So, when it comes to electrical equipment maintenance, you should factor in the expertise of your team.
Personnel in charge of EPM will need to:
- Analyze electrical equipment to determine maintenance requirements.
- Regularly test and service electrical equipment.
- Plan and carry out routine audits and inspections.
- Complete comprehensive documentation related to all maintenance activities.
- Implement corrective measures for the prevention and mitigation of potential issues.
- Analyze test reports to identify potential failure modes.
EPM Program Planning
An effective EPM program should lower equipment failure rates and enhance safety on the site. But, you need to exercise good economic judgment for it to pay off. You also need to consider the conditions in which you are using electrical equipment.
To figure out the worst-case conditions for each piece of equipment, you need to study each scenario under normal and operating conditions. Before you start planning your electrical equipment maintenance, consider the following factors:
What can you do to ensure the safety of your crew? Will equipment failure threaten or endanger the safety of the workers on the site?
How expensive is the equipment? In case some parts malfunction, how much will it cost to repair or replace them? Sometimes upgrading the equipment is a more cost-efficient solution than maintenance.
Which piece of equipment is most vital? How much downtime will the maintenance require? How about repairs? In case a piece of equipment fails, how big a setback will it cause? Evaluating the risks that come with equipment failure will help you determine how thorough your EPM needs to be.
Identifying low-priority and high-priority equipment is the first step in determining the frequency of electrical equipment maintenance. This can help you save a lot of time and money down the road.
You can start executing long term electrical equipment maintenance plans once you complete this classification. When it comes to critical electrical equipment and components, you should carry out preventative maintenance at least once every three years. However, some equipment may require annual, semi-annual, or quarterly preventative maintenance.
Environmental conditions can also affect the frequency and level of maintenance your electrical equipment needs. To determine the frequency of maintenance for equipment that operates under harsh environmental conditions, you need to perform an engineering analysis.
Spontaneous emergency breakdowns are usually the biggest hindrance to effective scheduling. You can eliminate unplanned interruptions with regular inspections.
Get to Know Your Electrical Equipment Inside and Out
When it comes to electrical preventative maintenance plans, thorough knowledge of the equipment is invaluable. Often, the simplest way to get vital information on maintenance is to look into the manual of the equipment.
Most electrical equipment manuals include researched and documented issues, so make sure to incorporate it into your EPM plan. They also include acceptable operating conditions, what servicing products to use, and recommended service intervals for each component.
You should be able to find a lot of troubleshooting information in there as well. Owner’s manuals include glow charts or bullet-point itemization of what to do during failures as well as prescribed maintenance steps and techniques.
When it comes to maintenance, be sure to seek the advice of the crew members that operate the electrical equipment on the construction site. Operators have a “feel” for the tools and the equipment they use. One of the wisest preventative maintenance strategies is simply appreciating the input of your daily operators.
This is a guest post from Michael at Qeedle.