"Ok team, the long weekend is almost upon us - time for annual electrical switchgear shutdown and maintenance," said John, the Maintenance Manager.
The small group of electricians and other skilled trades groaned. Annual shutdown was always a hectic mad dash to make sure checklists were completed and everything was put back together again in time for the production restart on Tuesday morning. Everyone remembered last year when an overzealous apprentice, who apparently doubled as a bodybuilder, had over-torqued and stripped the connections on a 3000 Amp breaker in an old piece of gear and how they had to scramble to find replacement parts. And how on switchboard, a cover had mysteriously disappeared and the metal shop had rushed out a haphazard replacement. Several people had expressed how they weren't sure the annual "tighten anything that moves" policy wasn't doing more harm than good.
Doug, a relative newcomer to the team, piped up. "John, can I make a suggestion?"
John nodded his approval.
Doug cleared his throat, "Well, I heard you say you got some budget money from corporate to invest in condition based maintenance. I think we should look at a handheld Infrared Camera and some of those Infrared viewing windows. I was certified as a Level 1 thermographer at my last company and we could install the windows during this shutdown ourselves - we will have most of the panels off anyway and we have all the tools we will need. You already have that Ultrasound gun that you use on the MV switchgear and transformer - right? You can use that on LV equipment too to listen for signs of arcing and tracking."
Several people were nodding their heads. Doug continued.
"Then, we will be able to do Ultrasound and IR scans every few months and find problems ourselves. If you don't see a hotspot on a connection and you don't hear anything with Ultrasound, how can we make the equipment any more sound? In fact, quite often you will end up breaking something like last year."
Doug shot a glance at "Conan the Destroyer" as the young apprentice was now known. Chuckles from the group ensued.
John stroked his beard in contemplation. "You know what. Let's look into it some more. It sounds like an idea with some merit."
What do you think? Want to learn more about IR Windows as part of a CBM program? Visit the IRISS website.