In 1993, while working on a friction welder retrofit project at John Deere, Phil Allen was on the cusp of discovering the first of two new niches in the electrical safety business. The machine I/O was located in the front while the electrical panel—with a 250 hp drive and a 400 amp main feed—was inconveniently located at the rear of the machine. The only way to access the equipment for maintenance was to open the doors, but the maintenance supervisor understood this caused a potential hazard. The supervisor insisted that they “keep those doors closed!” He wanted to put a PLC programming convenience interface or panel interface connector on the operator console where “all the I/O were located.”
The engineers at Grace decided to accept the challenge and responded with a panel interface connector that contained a printed circuit board and cable solution. They housed it in a NEMA 12/4 rated, rectangular connector enclosure and the customer loved it! The local distributor loved it. It became obvious that Grace should offer this solution to all of its customers. Putting convenience interface inserts into standard rectangular enclosures (supplied by Harting USA) was a spectacular idea.
Over the next few years, other variations of the original panel-mounted interface emerged, but were met with lackluster success. It became clear that even if Grace designed and stocked a thousand different varieties, customers would require something different. Customers needed the exact connector, the exact cable and the exact outlet configuration for their application—no more, no less.
Understanding this second piece of information gave Phil Allen the winning recipe. He put his resources in place to build convenience interfaces and panel interface connectors according the customers’ precise specifications. Our motto quickly emerged: “Any Cable, Any Connector, Any Combination!”
Sales boomed as increasing numbers of maintenance electricians called in to ask for “one of those Grace ports.” Soon the product was officially named GracePort®.
To date, Grace Engineered Products has designed and sold tens of thousands of GracePorts®. The number of uniquely designed components grows daily—there are an infinite number of possibilities. Remarkably, nearly all orders ship within 3-4 business days from receipt of the order, and Grace will put the customer’s own logo on the interface for only $20 more.
But There’s More to This Story
While GracePort was the first of Grace’s successful technologies to enter the marketplace, under the leadership of company president Phil Allen, it’s been joined by a number of others. Today, our lineup includes a range of permanent electrical safety devices (PESDs) and thru-door voltage detection solutions that can help ensure electrical safety in a facility—including mitigating arc flash risk—while increasing employee productivity.
Keeping personnel away from live voltage is foundational to electrical safety. More important, electrical safety demands a precise answer to this crucial question: “Is voltage present?” PESDs go a long way in providing the very first answer to this all-important concern, while a voltmeter provides personnel with a second, redundant answer. PESDs also provide visibility of voltage from outside the enclosure without exposing personnel to the hazard. Surprisingly, operations that use PESDs on their equipment have found this concept to be overwhelmingly embraced by all levels of maintenance people.
Grace Engineered Products, Inc.
5001 Tremont Ave.
Davenport, IA 52807