IPP&T Magazine Online

Five ways to retrofit motors to increase safety

August 2, 2018  

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By Jeson Pitt, D&F Liquidators

Electrical accidents result in injuries or death and prove to be extremely critical in processing plants and industries. You lose valuable production time, face liability and heavy medical bills — worst case scenario being losing your employees to death.

Here are five easy retrofits to electrical systems that help facility managers safeguard their workers and equipment, comply with safety codes and standards, and adapt to electrical trends.

Upgrading to Intelligent Motor-Protection Relays

Intelligent motor-protection relays benefit in 2 major ways:

  1. They shut-off power in dangerous conditions
  2. They monitor and report conditions to increase safety

They are easy to install and are affordable. Motors are subject to numerous problems like ground faults, overloads, phase imbalance and jammed loads. A lot of downtime would be spent on repairing them while replacing them altogether would be quite expensive.

Modern electric motor relays overcome the challenges that traditional electromechanical motor overload relays face by detecting and responding to the above-mentioned problems. Intelligent motor relays can also detect undercurrent, reversed phase sequence, changes in power factor, earth leakage current, phase loss and voltage imbalance.

Bring in Smartphones and Bluetooth-Enabled Devices

If a traditional motor faces a problem, your employee would have to put on protective equipment, open the electrical control panel and read the fault codes on the motor protection relay. This exposes the employee to the risk of shock or even an electric arc flash.

However, you can reduce this risk significantly by putting the smartphones to work. You will be able to detect and share real-time hazards, which can save a lot of lives. Employing motor protection relays that can communicate to a smartphone via Bluetooth connection will allow the workers to read fault codes on their phones and configure a relay that is up to 30 feet away, without even opening the panel door.

Use Arc Flash Relays

Using an arc-flash relay in an electrical panel helps in increasing arc-flash safety. These relays are small and you can retrofit them into the switchgear, electrical panels or motor control centres. The arc-flash relay detects the light and sends a trip signal to the breaker upstream before the arc-flash can reach a dangerous level.

They are typically used in panels that have voltages greater than 300 V. It is also recommended that you mount one or two light sensors per cubicle to cover all horizontal and vertical bus bars, breaker compartments, drawers, and anywhere that there is a potential for an arc-fault.

Use Current-Limiting Fuses

Current-limiting fuses open quickly to limit the amount of current going to an electrical fault in a motor control centre. This helps in preventing or minimizing the damage and dangerous conditions like explosions and fires. Moreover, they also help in avoiding costly downtime and expenses that come with replacing motors.

They can also be used for increasing the short-circuit current rating (SCCR) of a panel, which is determined by the corresponding rating of the lowest-rated device within the panel. When you use current-limiting fuses in the feeder circuit, the SCRR may be greater than that of the lowest-rated component. It is possible to increase the SCCR of a panel by replacing just a few components with current-limiting fuses.

Implement Industrial GFCI

An industrial ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) opens the electrical circuit as soon as it detects a ground fault and saves lives. GFCIs monitor the difference between the current in the phase conductors going out to the load and returning through those conductors. If there is any difference indicating that current is returning through an unintended path, the GFCI shuts off the power.

Make construction electrical products safe in your facility and you can be assured of increased overall safety for workers and equipment alike.

Jeson Pitt works with the marketing department of D&F Liquidators and regularly writes to share his knowledge while enlightening people about electrical products and solving their electrical dilemmas. Jeson lives in Hayward, Calif.