Maintenance Strategies, Dielectric Theory, Insulating Materials, Failure Modes, and Maintenance Impact on Arc-Flash Hazards:Why Maintain and Test

Introduction

The deterioration of electrical equipment is normal, and this process begins as soon as the equipment is installed. If deterioration is not checked, it can cause electrical failures and malfunctions. In addition, load changes or circuit alterations may be made without overall design coordination, which can result in improper selection of equipment, or settings of protective devices, or wrong trip devices installed in the circuits. The purpose of an electrical preventive maintenance (EPM) and testing program should be to recognize these factors and provide means for correcting them. With an EPM and testing program, potential hazards that can cause failure of equipment or interruption of electrical service can be discovered and corrected. Also, the EPM program will minimize the hazards to life and equipment that can result from failure of equipment when it is not properly maintained. Properly maintained equipment reduces downtime by minimizing catastrophic fail- ures. To carry out the successful operation of electrical equipment and appa- ratus, it is essential to set up an effective maintenance and testing program. This program can be implemented by setting up a maintenance department or by contracting the work to a private company engaged in this practice.

The EPM program should consist of conducting routine inspections, tests, repairs, and service of electrical power system apparatus such as transformers, cables, circuit breakers, switchgear assemblies, and the like, along with associated equipment comprised of control wiring, protective devices and relays, supervisory equipment, and indicating and metering instruments.

Why Maintain and Test

A well-organized and implemented program minimizes accidents, reduces unplanned shutdowns, and lengthens the mean time between failures (MTBF) of electrical equipment. Benefits of EPM can be categorized as direct and indirect. Direct benefits are derived from reduced cost of repairs, reduced downtime of equipment, and improved safety of personnel and property. Indirect benefits can be related to improved morale of employees, better workmanship, increased productivity, and the discovery of deficiencies in the system that were either designed into the original system or caused by later changes made in the system.

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