It is important for plant managers to consider the temperature of their electrical enclosures when the temperature begins to increase outside. Jonathan Wilkins explains how plant managers can inspect their equipment and enclosures
In summer, most us look forward to longer days, holidaying abroad and eating endless amounts of ice cream without feeling guilty.
However, spare a thought for plant managers, who fill with dread when the temperature gauge begins to increase.
High temperatures are the most common cause of sensitive electronic automation components tripping or even failing.
When one component fails, it can cause an entire manufacturing line to shut down, leading to costly downtime for the plant manager.
To prevent this, manufacturers need to ensure that they are prepared for the summer heat by inspecting their equipment and, in particular, their enclosures to identify the level of risk.
Ensuring optimum efficiency in electrical enclosures starts before they are even installed.
When arranging industrial components in an enclosure, plant managers should verify that the cooling air flows from top to bottom.
This can be done during the planning stages by properly routing the air flow away from the electrical components.
When roof-mounted units are used, attention needs to be paid to the air flow from blowers into electrical components.
Air intake openings of climate control units must not be obstructed by electrical devices or cable ducts. The cold air should always be routed close to drive units as this is where the most heat escapes.
Variable speed drives (VSDs) are extremely effective at reducing the amount of energy used during the manufacturing process, which equates to lower production costs.
VSDs sit between the electrical supply and the motor, regulating the power and ensuring that the alternating current (AC) that reaches the motor is run to the speed or torque of the demands required.
Despite the benefits of using VSDs, they do have the potential to cause an enclosure to overheat if they are not managed properly. Keeping an inverter drive cool will prolong its life, reduce the risk of downtime and save money in the long-term.
Carrying out regular thermal surveys will help plant managers identify the likelihood of a system overheating, taking into consideration the working environment and the amount of heat that each piece of equipment dissipates.
Repair or replace?
All machinery breaks eventually. When it does, plant managers need to act fast to reduce downtime and ensure that engineers are kept safe when working on the factory floor. If a component breaks, plant managers are faced with the decision of trying to repair the part, or replace it.
Often, plant managers believe that replacing a component is the more expensive option, and can be unachievable if the component is no longer produced by the original equipment manufacturer (OEM).
However, by working with an obsolete industrial parts supplier, such as EU Automation, plant managers can quickly source a replacement at a small cost when compared to changing the entire system.
UK summers are already too short, let alone if you spend the hotter months worrying about your electrical equipment.
Monitoring this equipment all year-round and ensuring that you have a reliable supply of replacement parts available, will allow plant managers to worry less and enjoy the season, come rain or shine.
Jonathan Wilkins is marketing director, EU Automation.