For 50 years, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA®) 70B has been the de facto practice for electrical maintenance in the U.S., extending into Canada, Latin America, and beyond. As of January 2023, this once-recommended practice is now an enforceable standard.
This blog discusses the dramatic NFPA 70B transition from a recommended to standard practice – which reinforces an organizational culture of maintenance and safety. It also explains how digitalizing your electrical distribution system can help you go beyond compliance and achieve critical business outcomes ranging from safety and compliance, resilience and reliability, efficiency and optimization, to sustainability.
Why is NFPA 70B important to your organization?
Working closely together, the NFPA 70 (the National Electrical Code® [NEC]), NFPA 70E, and NFPA 70B standards cover the entire electrical distribution system lifecycle, from installation to operation to maintenance.
With maintenance being vital for electrical systems’ dependability, the NFPA 70B standard was developed “to provide for the practical safeguarding of persons, property, and processes from the risks associated with failure, breakdown, or malfunction” of electrical equipment.
Once a recommended practice, NFPA 70B is now approved by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) as a “standard that can now be both utilized and enforced to ensure that the proper conditions of maintenance have been established.”
But how does this impact you and your facilities?
The standard provides an electrical equipment maintenance framework to help deliver:
- Safety – Identify and address electrical hazards before they cause accidents or injuries. Compliance 70B now requires selective coordination, arc flash, reliability, load flow and power system studies, and single-line diagrams to be kept updated.
- Training – 70B strongly emphasizes the importance of training maintenance personnel, so you should expect to invest more in this area.
- Compliance – As an enforceable standard, NPFA 70B non-compliance could impact insurance costs if insurers link coverage to standards compliance.
- Cost savings – Equipment maintenance schedule optimization can help extend equipment lifespan, minimize repair and replacement costs, reduce downtime, and improve energy efficiency.
- Reliability – Following the electrical equipment maintenance practices can help ensure reliable operation and minimize the risks of failure and disruption.
- Sustainability – The standard can support net-zero goals by making facilities operate more efficiently with reduced energy waste and emissions.
But how do you achieve all requirements and benefits of NFPA 70B if your organization faces a facility workforce that is either shrinking, lacking in experience, or both? This is where digitalization comes in.
How digitalization helps with NFPA 70B compliance and maintenance optimization
A poor maintenance regimen can negatively impact safety, uptime, productivity, and operational costs. Prioritizing maintenance – especially with limited resources – can be simpler and more efficient with the newest digital tools.
Embracing a digital transformation of your electrical infrastructure optimizes your maintenance program by enabling the following:
- Digitizing paper-based single lines diagrams (SLDs) to manage your electrical network enabling the execution of power studies and mitigating electrical and fire risks
- Real-time monitoring of critical equipment and components with early detection of potential issues to help prevent failures.
- Predictive analytics to identify the likelihood of component failure enabling you to pre-schedule maintenance activities.
- Condition-based maintenance to determine which maintenance tasks to carry out and when.
- Improved communication between facility teams to optimize maintenance scheduling and resource availability.
So how do you begin this digital transformation?
Schneider Electric™ Services can help organizations from virtually every industry.
- EcoConsult Electrical Digital Twin services digitize and keep your SLDs current to gain real-time visibility to manage and operate your electrical system architecture. From audits, studies, advisory services, and design, we help assess your needs and priorities and establish maintenance tasks, procedures, and tracking.
- EcoCare Services Membership can unlock the full potential of your electrical distribution equipment with 24/7 monitoring. Our system experts can help you decrease downtime by up to 75%, reduce maintenance activities by up to 40%, and extend equipment lifetime by up to 25%.
- EcoFit™ modernizes your electrical equipment by leveraging the latest connectivity, monitoring, and safety technologies. Our EcoStruxure™ platform takes your maintenance further by integrating digital devices throughout your electrical system and connecting them to powerful analytic software, cloud-based apps, and services. With this new visibility, you can monitor real-time equipment performance, view maintenance histories, and make data-driven asset management decisions.
EcoStruxure Asset Advisor services remotely monitor the world’s largest soluble coffee facility. Nestlé Nescafé engineers now have real-time visibility into their electrical equipment and use data analytics to implement predictive maintenance. Schneider Electric’s Connected Services Hub helped plant engineers react to and avoid three unplanned stoppages that could have cost Nestlé up to $52,000 per hour.
Breakthroughs in connectivity, sensor technology, and advanced analytics create new opportunities to improve maintenance strategies. EcoStruxure Asset Advisor and EcoStruxure Power Monitoring Expert provide BASF with a consolidated view of its operations to remotely monitor and manage their assets’ health from anywhere.