Electrical Troubleshooting Quiz - Sept. 23, 2014

How can you fix power anomalies showing up in the plant’s power distribution system?

For nearly a year now, the rate of electronic load failures has been steadily increasing. A consultant did a study, using a power monitoring system he temporarily installed. He found power anomalies in the plant’s power distribution system. These seemed to happen at random times and not last very long, but there were many throughout each day.

Further investigation revealed the source to be the motor for the main plant air compressor. It starts across the line and starts often. How can you fix this?

The quick electrical answer is to install a variable speed drive. This eliminates the anomalies and allows for less on/off action. But the electrical solution still leaves the underlying cause in place. Masking the underlying cause could mean this solution will eventually not be enough. And you probably have severe energy waste now.

Hire a compressed air system expert to look at:

  • Air tools. How are these lubricated? How often are they serviced?
  • Capacity. Does it make sense to add another receiver/dryer system?
  • Controls. Is the air compressor maintaining pressure within too narrow a band?
  • Supplementation. Does it make sense to supplement with a “jockey pump” arrangement (a much smaller air compressor) to handle small drops in pressure?
  • Leaks. Hire a maintenance contractor to conduct ultra-sonic leak detection. Get those leaks fixed.
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