7 Predictive Maintenance Techniques for Boosting Power Equipment Reliability

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According to the Hartford Steam Boiler Insurance Company, businesses can expect a minimum of six hours of electrical distribution system-induced business interruption per year. Statistics from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) show that an effective electrical maintenance program can reduce risk of these types of outages by as much as 66 %.

Predictive or condition-based maintenance offers companies the least expensive, most efficient method of reducing equipment-related downtime. In a predictive maintenance model, maintenance work is scheduled based on diagnostic evaluations that determine when to perform service. The monitoring of equipment conditions provides trending data to help anticipate future maintenance needs.

Over time, electrical equipment can break down for several reasons. One is mechanical failure. This can occur as a result of loose connections, overheating, and changes or additions to load changes. Environmental conditions, including high humidity, corrosive environments, and high dirt and dust levels, also lead to more frequent instances of downtime. Human error is a third important element of unanticipated downtime, and it often occurs when hands-on maintenance is performed.

In order to avoid costly disruptions, many organizations are now shifting from a preventive maintenance model to the predictive maintenance approach. New advances in software and sensor technology (e.g. smart panels) allows for this highly effective monitoring method to be both affordable and precise.

Below are 7 predictive maintenance approaches that inspect, monitor, assess, and analyze electrical equipment:

  1. Power System Assessments – These are conducted by professional electrical engineers trained in power system analyses. Power system assessments provide visual inspections of the existing power distribution system. Defects, deficiencies, deteriorations, hazards, or weaknesses in existing system installations are identified as part of the assessment.
  2. Infrared (Thermographic) Inspections – Infrared inspections use a specialized camera to detect anomalies not noticeable to the naked eye. In an electrical setting, infrared inspections identify hot spots, which can be a precursor to equipment malfunction, which leads to unplanned downtime.
  3. Online Temperature Monitoring – This technology provides 24/7 access to critical connection points where traditional thermography cannot be used. Continuous monitoring provides the means to evaluate the equipment’s current condition and detect abnormalities at an early stage. During a planned outage, wireless temperature sensors are installed in low-voltage and medium-voltage equipment areas not accessible to an infrared camera.
  4. Insulating Fluid Analysis – This approach measures the physical and chemical properties of oil in an oil-filled transformer. An oil analysis can detect the breakdown of the oil paper insulating system. Common tests performed on electrical insulating oils include readings for moisture content, acid levels, dielectric strength, power factor, and dissolved gas analysis.
  5. Partial Discharge Monitoring – A partial discharge is a localized electrical discharge in an insulation system that does not completely bridge the electrodes. As insulation systems age, they become more susceptible to these types of breakdowns.
  6. Circuit Monitor Analysis – Circuit monitors record data relating to voltage, current, and power. They help facility managers and engineers understand where and when dangerous and destructive transients, sags and swells occur.
  7. Intelligent Protective Devices – Circuit breakers and motor control centers are two examples of intelligent protective devices. Monitoring of circuit breakers provides advanced information regarding identification and position, number of operations, cumulative interrupted currents, operating times, charging time, travel-time curve, excess closing energy, and wear of contacts. Motor control centers are monitored for readings of motor current and power, thermal capacity, line currents, average current, ground current, motor temperature, current phase imbalance, voltage frequency, line to line voltage, and line voltage imbalance.

To learn more, visit their entire suite of maintenance solutions and download the free white paper,“7 Predictive Maintenance Technologies That Enhance Power Equipment Reliability.”

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  • It is alway such a disappointment when something breaks prematurely, and I’m sure that is especially true for power equipment. Proper maintenance seems like a small task to remember when doing so can extend the life of your investments. Infrared inspections sound particularly useful due to the fact that they can detect malfunction before you will ever notice them just by looking.

  • Thanks for this great article!
    We are industrial IoT solution provider with patented mechanical sensors along with other data sources for early prediction of breakdown and quantum improvements in productivity.

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