Monthly Archives: June 2016

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Product Spotlight: Panduit One-to-One Switch Patching

One of the key problems we see business data centers encounter is the spaghetti mess of cabling when running patch cords from their servers to their patch panels. Not only does this look disorganized and messy, but can also cause a nightmare when trying to identify a specific cord. At French Gerleman, we are currently in the process of updating our own data center with Panduit’s one-to-one switch patching, and wanted to share with you the difference it has made for our company.

Our Datacom Division Manager, Joe Dody, and VP of Information Technology, Jason Stockmann, explain why we decided to move to Panduit’s One-to-One Switch Patching, how the process went and our results to date.

patching

Jason explains that the biggest problem we’ve struggled with is how to identify things on the network and where things were plugged in. When you’re dealing with more than 200 cords, it can quickly become a mess and can cause a lot of frustration when you are trying to track down the location of a specific issue. That can take quite some time.

According to Jason, “we looked at our system and asked ourselves what can we do better?” The result? We decided to standardize on eight inch patch cables so that we could easily identify if we had a problem on one specific cord. Today, we can go right to that switch, not only more quickly, but without the headache of searching through a tangled mess. Plus, the look of the updated data center is clean, efficient and saves us time when making changes or updates.

It took us time to plan, map out and document every port. The wiring and cables were all different sizes, colors, lengths and were all tangled up, so it took some time to get it organized. After we did that, we were able to come in and make the cords more efficient, clean and easier to manage. We now have a nice looking, better organized data center!

And now for the most exciting part. This is something Panduit can do for our clients, whether you are doing a new build out or retrofitting your existing datacenter or telecommunications room, French Gerleman is here to help. Give us a call at 800-333-3122 and ask to speak with a representative in our Datacom Division to discuss your options.


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Power Quality Problem Identification and Mitigation

The impact of poor power quality is significant.  According to Frost and Sullivan, power related problems cost U.S. companies more than $26 billion per year.  There are a number of different factors that can cause electrical disturbances and one of the main factors can be the user.  This includes wiring and grounding errors, load interactions, heavy load start-up, and poorly specified power conversion products.  That being said, utility power isn’t perfect.  Accidents can happen to power lines and power distribution equipment and bad weather can occur at any time.

Facility issues are a big factor, as well.  Every facility/location is different.  Disturbances can occur at varying magnitudes and rates.  Noise, impulse, voltage and interruption are all varying issues.  Resources such as a Power Quality Audit and Statistical Reports can be used to identify disturbances.  Always be sure to match the protection to the needs to the load.

Another factor to keep in mind is load sensitivity.  All loads are different; some may be sensitive to impulses, some may be sensitive to voltage sags, swells or brownout, and some may be sensitive to power interruption.  Make sure to protect the loads that are most at risk.

voltage

Voltage sag is a temporary drop in RMS voltage and it may last for several cycles.  It can be caused by large loads start-up, such as motors or air conditioning, and by utility switching.  Some of the effects of voltage sag can be hardware crashes, occasional equipment failure and reduced efficiency and life span of electrical equipment.  Solutions include a Power Conditioner, UPS and DC Power Supplies that meet SEMI F47.

brownout

A brownout is a temporary drop in RMS voltage that may last for several hours.  A brownout can be caused by high demand on the utility grid or by service located at the end of the grid.  The effects of a brownout are also hardware crashes, occasional equipment failure and reduced efficiency and life span of electrical equipment.  A solution would be to use a Voltage Regulator.

Power interuption

A power interruption is sudden loss of AC power.  Common causes of a power interruption are fuses or circuit breakers opening, bad weather, and construction accidents.  The effects may include equipment shutting down, data loss, production delays, long process start up cycles and safety issues.  A solution to a power interruption is a UPS.

Harmonic distortion is when distortion occurs to the sinewave.  It can be caused by switch mode power supplies and by non-linear loads.  The effects of harmonic distortion include high neutral current, overhead neutral, overheated transformers, voltage distortion, breaker tripping, and loss of system capacity.  Solutions to this problem include Ferroresonant Transformers, Active/Passive filters, On-Line UPS, Drive Isolation Transformers, and K-Factor Transformers.

Voltage Transient is when a narrow, high voltage, or current impulse is superimposed on the AC waveform.  It can be caused by utility grid switching, a contractor opening or closing, heavy industrial equipment starting and by lightning.  The effects are equipment damage and/or failure, system lock-up, data corruption and/or loss and component stress that can lead to a breakdown.  It can be taken care of with SPDs, an Isolation Transformer or with a Power Conditioner.

Last, but certainly not least, of all potential problems is electrical noise.  Electrical noise is defined as low amplitude, low current, high frequency disturbances.  It can be caused by switch mode power supplies, other loads and improper grounding and the effects of electrical noise could be perceived software errors and system lockup.  Solutions include an Isolation Transformer, an Active Tracking Filter, a Power Conditioner and UPS.

energy

Fluke offers many resources to help you identify and quantify energy disturbances and waste – both electrical and mechanical.  These include power and energy loggers, thermal imagers and vibration testers.  Visit Fluke’s website to learn more.

Now that we’ve discussed the potential problems, let’s review some of the solutions.  Solutions include Surge Protective Devices, Signal/Data Line Protection (STC), Active Tracking Filters, Constant Voltage Transformers (Ferrorresonant), Drive Isolation and K-Factor Transformers and UPSs (Uninterruptible Power Supplies).

A Surge Protective Device is a device that clamps voltage to a safe level during an impulse.  These devices solve problems with impulses and lightening.  If the RMS voltage goes above the clamping level of the device, it will blow input fuses or destroy the device.  A Signal/Data Line Protection (STC) is a device which clamps voltage to a safe level for data and communication lines and it also solves issues with impulses and lightening.  It offers no protection from RMS voltage fluctuations.

An Active Tracking Filter is a device which filters high frequency noise (STF) and clamps voltage (STFE).  This device solves issues with noise, impulse, and lightening and offers no protection from RMS voltage fluctuations.  A Constant Voltage Transformer is a transformer with inherent voltage regulation due to design and it solves problems with impulses, noise, surges, sags, brownouts, and harmonics.  A Constant Voltage Transformer will only ride through a -3ms power interruption.

Drive Isolation and K-Factor Transformers are transformers that are designed to handle high heat.  They are also specifically designed for SCR controlled variable speed motor drives.  They are able to handle mechanical stresses, voltage demands, and overheating caused by harmonics and they are typically K-4 rated.  An Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) is a device which provides battery backup during a power interruption and also solves problems with impulses, harmonics, noise, surges, sags, and brownouts.

If you would like specifics on the solutions to solve power disturbances listed above, you can visit SolaHD’s website.  SolaHD offers all of these power quality solutions.

There are a couple of different questions to ask when looking at the cost of power quality; such as how much the machinery or equipment is worth, how much the process is worth (a one second data loss, a 30 minute delay, a one hour shutdown, or a half-day work stoppage), and what the visibility of a production shutdown is to management.  Lost performance, productivity, and data all leads to lost money.

The information was shared at our recent Product and Technology Expo in St. Louis.  For a link to the PowerPoint presentation, click here.

Are you interested in learning more about these solutions to help mitigate your power quality issues?  Contact your French Gerleman Account Manager or contact us.


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Electric Motor Bearing Failure and Use of the Proper VFD Cable

What causes bearing failure to occur between the variable frequency drives (VFD) and electric motors?  What can be done to minimize the potential for failure?

ball bearing

For starters, the ball bearing is the connection between the shaft and the motor frame.  There are two rings: an inner ring (which is in contact with the shaft) and an outer ring (which is in contact with the motor frame).  The shaft turns due to electromagnetic interaction between inductors on the shaft and inductors on the frame. When the shaft turns, it drives the machine.

The problem lies in the connection between the VFD and the motor.  The VFD send power to the motor and some signal contents reflect off the motor and move back towards the VFD.  The reflected waves collide with the upcoming waves and this causes high voltage spikes.  The high voltage spikes cause strong electric fields which then influence the motor.

The voltage spikes and strong electric field then produce a high frequency flux around the stator.  If this frequency flux becomes high enough to overcome the impedance of the bearings’ oil film, a current starts to flow.  The end result is spark erosion.  Tiny metal particles of steel balls and rings melt and the bearing eventually fails.

LUTZE Driveflex VFD XLPE A216

However, LUTZE has come up with the perfect solution and that is to minimize the electric field.  A symmetrical construction results in a smaller electric field. The DRIVEFLEX® A220 is the most capable solution thus far of preventing bearing currents.  It connects all three earth wires and connects the cable shield to PE on both cable sides.

So, there you have it! LUTZE has created the solution to your bearing current problems with the DRIVEFLEX® A220.

LUTZE presented this information in an educational session at our recent Product and Technology Expo.  Check out the full presentation here.

Are you interested in learning more about this VFD cable solution?  Contact your French Gerleman Account Manager or contact us.

 


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French Gerleman Gives Back Through Rebuilding Together

If you’ve never heard of Rebuilding Together, it’s a great organization that we’re proud to be a part of at French Gerleman. Rebuilding Together hosts an annual Rebuilding Day – a single day in the spring where volunteers come together to lend a hand to low-income homeowners in the St. Louis area to improve the safety and comfort of their home.

For the 10th year, French Gerleman hosted a Rebuilding Together team, and this year, French Gerleman had more than 30 employees, friends and family members who teamed up to rehab a house for an exceptional man.

Vickie & Tom (2)

Larry Lipschutz was the House Captain and Vickie Katashuk was the Volunteer Coordinator for this year’s project. Together they created an amazing team who spent countless hours cleaning, painting, making renovations and building a safe and updated home.

Ramp Railing 5

The homeowner we partnered with this year is James Williams, a double amputee in his 60s who lives alone in his St. Louis home. James had built a makeshift plywood ramp to get into his home, but had slipped off it in the rain, causing a major safety concern. His main desire in a remodeled home was a safe wheelchair ramp and adding extra security features to the home.

Bathroom Door Install 2

Before starting the project, our team likes to sit down and talk to the homeowner to understand their needs and desires in a home, to build a wish list of projects to tackle. From talking to James, the French Gerleman Rebuilding Together team identified a list of projects to tackle. They included:

  • Building a wider ramp with a six foot deck to allow James to sit outside without blocking his door
  • Replacing a glass door for safety
  • Installing security bars on basement windows
  • Replacing the air conditioner’s condenser unit
  • Widening the bathroom door from 28″ to 32″ for wheelchair accessibility and installing shower bench and hand-held shower
  • Painting the home’s exterior and several interior rooms
  • Replacing landscaping walls
  • Installing laminate flooring in living room

Bedroom 1 Floor Install 1

Originally, Rebuilding Together had the air conditioner condenser on the approved project list and that item was to be donated by one of the many labor unions that help out on Rebuilding Together Day.  Later it was determined that the union funds were over committed, and it would no longer be covered.  French Gerleman didn’t want to let Mr. Williams down, so an e-mail was sent out to our vendors and, by the next day, enough funding was donated to allow us to proceed! With those funds and additional donations from vendors and employees, we were able to arrange for the air conditioner and purchase laminate flooring for the hallway and bedrooms, in addition to the living room.

Bedroom 2 Ceiling Fan install 2

Other items donated included:

  • Curtains and curtain rods
  • Ceiling fans
  • GFCI outlets (indoor and outdoor)
  • Door knobs
  • Energy-efficient LED light bulbs throughout the house
  • Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors
  • Security light fixture over the air conditioner and a security cage

Why does French Gerleman participate in Rebuilding Together year after year? Easy. It’s a great opportunity to not only give back to our community, but it’s also a great team building experience for our employees, and a wonderful way to get our vendors involved. It’s our opportunity to make a difference in someone’s life and grow as a team.

Small Group Pic

This year, because of the expansive scope of the project, we had volunteers at the home throughout the week leading up to Rebuilding Day, and we even had a team who went out the week after to finish projects that we just couldn’t complete on Rebuilding Day.   All told, we had 300+ people hours volunteered for the project.

“Getting our French Gerleman team together to volunteer with Rebuilding Together, you really get to know your coworkers on a deeper level, and there’s a genuine camaraderie on the team,” said House Captain, Larry Lipschutz. “It’s a lot of work and can seem overwhelming, but knowing you have the support of your team, the work becomes easier.”

Home owner James & Vickie (2)

“You can’t help but fall in love with the person you are helping,” said Volunteer Coordinator, Vickie Katashuk. “You picture that person as your family member, and how you would want the best for that person. We all fell in love with James and wanted to go above and beyond to make him feel comfortable and safe in his home.”

Thank you to all of our vendors and employees who donated either their time, money or items for this project. We are extremely grateful to work with such a giving group.


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We Solve a Customer’s Issue & the Result Wins a Readers’ Choice Award

We often meet customers who are frustrated with a current product they are using and they can’t seem to find a solution. We enjoy helping identify new, better solutions for customers to improve their efficiency and profitability.  Here’s a great testament to our success…

About 18 months ago, we had a customer reach out to us needing new gloves. The model they were using at the time was not doing a good job holding up to the heat and was puncturing much too easily. We offered them numerous samples of gloves to their specifications, but none of them were quite right. We then reached out to Superior Glove to see if they could develop a custom glove that would meet all of the customer’s requirements. Superior Glove said yes, and they started the process of designing and testing a new glove.

dragon glove

The result of this effort is the new Dragon Glove from Superior Glove!

The Dragon High-Heat Gloves are designed to withstand temperatures as high as 600 degrees Fahrenheit, while remaining flexible and extremely sturdy.  Featuring Kevlar®, these gloves will not melt on contact with open flame or hot materials. The seamless-knit construction provides unparalleled dexterity and comfort for workers.

“Our employees love these gloves, we only hear good things. In the past, our employees were constantly complaining about how they hated the feel of the old gloves and how they had to constantly swap them out,” said our customer. “Not only are they able to withstand the heat, but they cannot be pierced as easily as our old gloves.”

The cost savings are also impressive. They had to replace their old gloves daily, and the new Dragon Gloves last one to two weeks each. This will save them nearly $100,000 a year!

“When we came to French Gerleman, we were frustrated trying to find a glove that met all of our needs. The FG team were great to work with. Not finding that perfect glove, they helped us work with Superior Glove to develop the Dragon Glove. This was a unique experience for us, and we are extremely grateful to French Gerleman and Superior Glove for stepping up to help us create a glove that exceeds our expectations!”

ReadersChoice_award_topical

Not only do we and our client think this glove is pretty wonderful, but so does the Industrial Safety & Hygiene News! They named the Dragon glove one of the 2016 Readers’ Choice Award Winners. Be sure to check it out.

Have any questions on the Dragon Glove from Superior Glove or want to learn more about safety products and how French Gerleman can help you? Give Tim Struyk, Account Manager for Safety Products and Services a call at 314-213-5858 or email him at tstruyk@frenchgerleman.com.