5 Unseen Electrical Issues Manufacturers Need To Fix Fast
Electrical problems are the bane of any manufacturer. They’re often difficult to spot and it’s not until the damage is done that they’re uncovered. Frequent testing and monitoring of electrical equipment is necessary to shed light on these problems before they make themselves known in a big way.
But even if you suspect an electrical problem, it’s not always easy to determine the nature of that issue. Electrical problems come in many forms. Getting familiar with the most common can give you the edge in identifying and alleviating them.
The unseen nature of electrical problems
Electrical problems can be silent killers. You might not hear the telltale buzz of total harmonic distortion. Nor will increasing phase current be something you’re likely to recognize without checking the insulation of your motor. Instead, to catch electrical problems and resolve them before they result in asset failure, it’s vital to engage in routine testing and monitoring. The question is: What are you looking for?
5 common electrical issues
Testing for electrical issues starts by understanding the potential issues. While it’s best to trust a specialist where electrical faults are involved, there are five common issues that tend to occur more often than others. Let’s take a closer look:
- Harmonic distortion. Although a small amount of distortion is normal, anything above 5% needs to be investigated further. Monitor current levels and temperature to identify stressors that might create distortion.
- Voltage sags. Sags on multi-phase equipment can cause higher power draw across all other phases when one drops voltage. If you’re seeing consistent drops below 90% voltage, investigate further to ensure the supply isn’t overloaded.
- Voltage unbalance. Another multi-phase voltage issue, voltage unbalance can present as phases that run higher than others. An unbalance greater than 1% on motors is worth investigating, per National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) standards.
- Increasing phase current. Measure the phase current against the approved rating for the equipment in question. If it’s above the approved rating, it’s worth investigating. Track it over a period of time to determine if it’s increasing.
- Electrostatic discharge. This is a power quality problem caused by the interruption of a power supply. Ensure the integrity of the power supply and make sure it’s both appropriately rated and grounded. Test for faults.
Routine testing and monitoring are key
The key to catching the above five issues is to test for them often, and to observe the efficiency and function of equipment to pinpoint potential problems. It’s not enough to wait for electrical failsafe systems to kick in, or to hold out until an annual service date — by then, the damage is already done. Test, monitor, and act with the intent of preserving optimal equipment function, regardless of the electrical problem that presents.