Switchgear Lifecycle, Technologies & Safety Seminar Recap

Switchgear Lifecycle, Technologies & Safety Seminar Recap

Recently we hosted a Switchgear Lifecycle, Technologies & Safety Seminar covering the product life cycle, preventive maintenance, and planning for future capacity. If you couldn’t attend, here are a few highlights from the seminar.

Electrical systems are essential to almost every other system a building has, and maintenance is required to keep them running properly. All equipment eventually reaches the end of its useful life, but well-maintained equipment lasts 35 years on average, as opposed to 17 years for unmaintained equipment.

Electrical equipment was never designed to go without maintenance.  In fact, when it was installed, you should have received an owner’s manual and maintenance guide.  Loose connections or mechanical parts are responsible for more than 30% of electrical losses, and electrical system components are 3x more likely to fail without preventive maintenance. If in doubt of what proper preventive maintenance for electrical systems includes, refer to the NFPA 70B for details to prevent equipment failures and worker injuries.

Below are key recommended preventive maintenance services according to NFPA 70B:

  • Voltage and current measurements
  • Harmonic voltage and current measurements
  • Ultrasonic testing
  • Infrared thermography
  • Visual Inspection

Checking for voltage imbalances, drops and the intended voltage ratings for your equipment can elongate their useful lives. The use of infrared thermography does not interrupt uptime for any of your equipment, but picking up excess heat readings can indicate poor connections or excess load. Qualified, experienced electricians can often visually identify and fix issues on the spot which non-qualified maintenance personnel may not notice.

Visual inspections are incredibly useful in preventive maintenance, although they cannot be solely relied on as the only type of preventive maintenance.  Regular switchgear maintenance should include cleaning, inspecting for physical damage, checking insulation resistance, and reinsulating windings as appropriate. Circuit breakers 225 amps and above should be electrically trip tested to ensure they operate correctly.

An arc flash risk assessment should be included with your regular preventive maintenance. Arc flashes occur when an electrical arc passes through air, phase to ground, or phase to phase, and can cause serious injury and damage. The risk assessment will help you determine if there are any current hazards to address, and estimate further precautions to take against arc flashes by referring to the NFPA 70E.

Finally, an important part of preventive switchgear maintenance is preparation for an electrical system failure. Uninterruptable Power Supplies (UPS) ensure power continuity to maintain process control in the event of a utility power failure. There are many solutions to provide backup of information, power continuity, control panel protection, and surge protection to keep your electrical infrastructure running smoothly.

For more information on the information covered in the Switchgear Lifecycle, Technologies & Safety Seminar, contact your French Gerleman Account Manager.

Switchgear Solutions: What You Need to Know

Switchgear: The goal is to maximize equipment life cycles and improve reliability with preventive and predictive maintenance of power distribution equipment. Here’s a closer look at Switchgear Solutions.

Electrical switchgear is composed of passive and active components. Passive components are horizontal and vertical bus structures. Active components are power circuit breakers, fusible switches, protective relays and motor control. Their role is to protect the electrical assets downstream, disconnect the circuit and protect personnel in case of an arc flash event. They are extremely important when it comes to your safety.


Preventive Maintenance
Once installed, all electrical equipment begins deteriorating due to normal wear and tear. This will happen regardless of the brand or product used. Regular maintenance ensures the equipment’s integrity and proper mechanical and electrical functionality, as well as optimizing the equipment’s lifespan. Even the best maintained equipment ultimately will degrade and reach the end of its useful life. The average useful life for well maintained equipment is 35 years versus only 17 for unmaintained equipment. With a little maintenance, you can double the equipment’s life.

How you can perform preventive maintenance:
Switchgear should be cleaned, inspected, tightened, lubricated and maintained on a regular basis. You will need to consider the environmental and equipment conditions when determining a preventive maintenance schedule. This is where a trained switchgear maintenance person or firm should come in and help you to prepare a plan.

Power System Studies and what you need to know:
Power System Studies, or PSS, provide multiple benefits including retention of protective device settings, proper sizing of electrical equipment, protecting employees and the equipment and compliance with industry standards and codes.

Electrical equipment and power distribution systems have never been designed to remain perpetually energized without interaction by the owner, so electrical equipment requires your attention and ongoing maintenance throughout its installed life.

Contact your Account Manager or Randy Laird, Switchgear Specialist, at 314-478-4458 or rlaird@frenchgerleman.com.