Archive | Power Transmission


7:53 pm
April 13, 2017
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Prevent Cable Failure in Dynamic-Cable Tracks

Paying attention to these details can help you reduce the risk of unexpected and costly downtime.

Paying attention to these details can help you reduce the risk of unexpected and costly downtime.

Cable failure within a dynamic-cable track can lead to costly, yet, in most cases, easily avoided, downtime. David Smith of U.S. Tsubaki Power Transmission LLC (Wheeling, IL) points to several important considerations for maximizing the performance life of cables running through your plant’s power-transmission-equipment systems.

— Jane Alexander, Managing Editor

Proper cable selection

Incorrect cable designs are often installed in a dynamic-cable track. Given the high rates of motion and speed under which cable tracks perform, be sure to select and install a cable specifically designed to operate in your particular environment or application.

Proper cable-track sizing

To achieve maximum life from your cables, assure ample amounts of free space within the cable track. At a minimum, cables should have 10% free space around them, with a maximum fill rate within the cable track not to exceed 60%. As the speed and cycle rates of a cable track increase, the cables must have adequate space to operate properly.

It is also imperative for the cable track to have the proper bend radius. Dynamic cables are generally designed to operate with a bend radius that’s greater than 7.5 times the outside diameter of the cable. A tighter radius will reduce the performance life of your cables.

randmStrain relief

Every cable requires effective strain relief as it enters and exits the cable track. This strain relief ensures that proper cable length remains within the track as it cycles back and forth. Insufficient strain relief is one of the most commonly overlooked considerations during cable installation.

Proper strain relief often can be accomplished by simply zip-tying the cables to the strain-relief fingers that have been molded into the cable-track brackets.

Internal vertical dividers

Another often-overlooked consideration involves the use of internal dividers within the cable track. Vertical dividers between the cables ensure that each cable is confined to its proper location and spacing within the track and is unable to cross over or “tangle,” with the other cables. Keeping your cables in proper alignment will help extend their performance.

Cable-carrier material selection

Even with proper strain relief, relative motion between the cables and cable carrier crossbars can result in some scuffing of the cable jackets. By selecting a crossbar design/material that best interacts with the cable jacket material, you can reduce or eliminate that scuffing.

For example, a nylon cable track with aluminum crossbars is much friendlier to the PVC jackets of most electrical cables than a standard glass-fiber nylon cross bar. MT

David Smith is director of sales for the Milwaukee-based KabelSchlepp Division of U.S. Tsubaki Power Transmission LLC. For more information on dynamic-cable tracks and other power-transmission topics, visit


9:00 am
June 15, 2016
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Shaft-Alignment System

01Touch is a cloud-enabled, touchscreen, laser shaft-alignment system with integrated mobile connectivity. It features a tablet-like capacitive touchscreen with a 3-D display, high measurement quality, live move mode with an acoustic assistant, and voice recognition for hands-free operation.
Pruftechnik Inc.
Ismaning, Germany


7:34 pm
June 13, 2016
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Upgrading Legacy Power Systems

Upgrading to new equipment requires careful analysis and planning to avoid extended downtime.

Upgrading to new equipment requires careful analysis and planning to avoid extended downtime.

A Q & A with Danita Knox, GE Energy Connections.

When’s the best time to upgrade a power system? According to Danita Knox of GE Energy Connections, Atlanta, it can vary. Consider the following situations as ideal opportunities:

  • if a facility had or is planning a significant expansion that might affect overall power-system loading
  • if a recent arc-flash study revealed significant incident levels or danger of exposure for electrical workers or operators
  • if personnel are having difficulty locating replacement and spare parts for the site’s electrical system
  • if plant personnel desire better monitoring of the overall power system.

Once the decision has been made to move forward on an upgrade, what’s next? We asked Knox for some insight into what facilities can do to make these projects go smoothly.

MT: What trends in power-system upgrades are you seeing among older installations?

Knox: One trend involves customers replacing older electromechanical relays, meters, and trip units with newer digital “smart” equivalents. This provides a single, multi-function device that incorporates communications (local and network), event logging, and monitoring (graphical screens and remotely using web tools). Critical applications include upgrading to smart switchgear offerings that feature built-in monitoring, diagnostics, redundancy, and remote-control capabilities.

Facilities are also adding devices to their power systems that help locate workers further away from the equipment they operate. This is done, in some cases, by adding remote racking devices to existing breakers or using robot-type devices to operate equipment from a safe distance. We’re seeing more sites updating old fused devices, such as a load interrupter switch, with faster-operating vacuum breakers and relay equivalents that reduce arc-flash incident levels.

Finally, with limited budgets for large capital projects in many plants, it’s essential for them to find ways to extend the life of their existing equipment. To that end, facilities are often looking at retrofit options.

MT: What tips do you have for sites that are embarking on a power system upgrade?

Knox: Ideally, it helps to start with a comprehensive arc-flash study. This can provide remediation suggestions on how to reduce arc-flash exposure levels and improve personnel and equipment safety. To begin an arc flash study, an operation needs an accurate schematic or diagram of the facility. Plant personnel familiar with the electrical system can usually collect the information needed to build this diagram. An accurate schematic also provides critical information that can be a great tool to develop safe and proper LOTO (lock-out/tag-out) practices.

With a thorough arc-flash study, plant operators can then evaluate multiple options that help define steps to start upgrading a power system. Upgrade projects can be prioritized into smaller projects, depending on employee exposure, process needs, available outage periods and budget constraints.

If you’re going to replace old gear with new equipment, such as this ground and test device for Magne-Blast switchgear, be sure to test all critical components prior to the outage. Photo: GE

If you’re going to replace old gear with new equipment, such as this ground and test device for Magne-Blast switchgear, be sure to test all critical components prior to the outage. Photo: GE

MT: To get management buy-in, what’s the best way to estimate the return on investment (ROI) and benefits of an upgrade?

Knox: Often the need to upgrade is based on some failure or electrical incident that has caused downtime, equipment damage, or, worst-case scenario, employee injury.

When you look at the cost associated with downtime and/or injury, it’s fairly easy to calculate ROI if the project is done in a phased approach. Some trip unit, relay, and breaker upgrades can be done under the threshold of a maintenance budget.

MT: Are there any budget-friendly ways to upgrade a legacy system?

Knox: Yes, there are. It’s important to look at upgrade options that solve the most problems with minimal disruption to plant operations and equipment.

Consider, for example, if a single upstream breaker/relay combination in the facility can reduce arc-flash exposure for downstream feeder breakers without upgrading each breaker. Does the site have unused spare breakers that can be rotated out with a local service shop for upgrades that can later be installed during a short outage?

If a plant is updating old relays and meters, it should get new doors with new components prewired. This allows a shorter outage while equipment is being replaced. Also, “replacing the guts” in the existing compartment in a field outage can help reduce upgrade costs, assuming the new equipment has been pre-determined to fit the compartment and it can be easily wired. MT

Danita Knox is senior product manager for Power Delivery Services within GE Energy Connections, headquartered in Atlanta.

Steps to a Successful Power-System Upgrade

According to GE’s Danita Knox, as a site prepares for a power-system upgrade, it’s important to identify and select a reputable vendor that’s experienced, trained, and knowledgeable in designing this type of complex project. A power-system upgrade includes these steps:

  • Budgeting for hardware, software, and labor.
  • Development of a project schedule and careful outage planning for the upgrade.
  • Design of the system and procurement of all components prior to the outage.
  • Labor and logistics planning for the outage to ensure that work is completed on time.
  • Testing of all critical components prior to the outage.
  • Failure mode and effects analysis to plan for challenges during the outage and prepare solutions or workarounds.
  • Site safety and work policy that includes LOTO (lock-out/tag-out) training and documentation.

“During the upgrade,” Knox said, “an experienced project manager with a background in power systems is indispensable. Many facilities operate continuously with infrequent planned outages. Careful planning and execution is required to maximize work and re-energize systems in a timely manner.”

Knox advises creating a detailed schedule and work procedures early on, including planning types of labor and required skill-sets and procuring all materials well in advance. “Regarding procurement,” she cautioned, “be careful to consider smaller items, such as personal protective equipment and installation components. If these small details are missed in outage planning, they can create schedule slippage, safety risks, or technical errors while limiting the amount of work accomplished.”


3:08 pm
January 13, 2015
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All in a Day’s Work


Two Schneider Electric facility engineers share their tips for ensuring the safety, efficiency and reliability of a site’s electrical system.

By Jane Alexander, Managing Editor

The infrastructure of a typical commercial or industrial facility is a complex network of electrical, electronic, process and control, automation and building-management systems. Some facilities include critical power and cooling systems as part of that infrastructure. And when something goes wrong, there’s typically one go-to person. Whether his/her title is facility engineer (as used in this article), manager or director, this individual has a full plate. For example, following is a partial list of job responsibilities listed in a recent online job posting for a Lead Facility Engineer:

  • Ensure adherence to safety policies and procedures
  • Monitor buildings, grounds and equipment for safety and functionality
  • Maintain data center systems
  • Perform routine maintenance tasks
  • Troubleshoot, evaluate and recommend system upgrades
  • Order parts for maintenance and repairs
  • Request proposals for work that is to be outsourced
  • Supervise shift personnel; support training initiatives
  • Oversee maintenance reporting activities
  • Supervise and audit contractors
  • Ensure accurate and timely completion of work order requests
  • Serve as on-call facility manager, as needed

As Facility Engineers for Schneider Electric with more than 20 years of combined service, Kirk Morton and Keith Smith perform many of the functions listed above. Morton is responsible for the daily operations of a 100,000-sq.-ft. office building with 400+ employees, while Smith oversees operations at one of Schneider Electric’s manufacturing facilities. While many of their day-to-day tasks are similar, Smith’s industrial facility naturally has more systems and requirements to address than Morton’s office building. These include compressed air systems, crane and hoist inspections and load tests, processed water/wastewater treatment and site storm- water prevention plans.

Morton and Smith also are responsible for outsourcing various services, for managing outsourced/contracted employees, and for ensuring contractors follow safety standards in place at the worksite (facility managers, not contractors, retain ultimate responsibility for plant safety). While the traditional reason for outsourcing is to enable an organization to focus on its core competency, there can be others, as reflected in the following four models:

  • The company needs contractors to help meet operational/productivity requirements.
  • Contractors with a specific skill set are needed to perform specific tasks.
  • A company uses contractors for projects.
  • A company uses contractors to act as consultants, i.e., Managed Services.

Reliable power is paramount

Morton and Smith agree that a reliable power system is at the heart of safe and efficient operations. Per Schneider Electric requirements for all of its locations, both have implemented preventive maintenance programs at their individual sites. Their programs follow the recommendations of NFPA 70B and requirements of NFPA 70E:

A well-administered Electrical Preventive Maintenance program: reduces accidents, saves lives and minimizes costly breakdowns and unplanned outages. Impending troubles can be identified, and solutions applied, before they become major problems requiring more expensive, time-consuming solutions.

Source: NFPA 70B-2013 Ed., Section 4.2.1

When it comes to their sites’ respective electrical infrastructures, Morton and Smith may deal with different systems, but their overall focus is on reliability. “We really don’t have any issues in our commercial office space,” says Morton. “The meters and monitoring equipment are our own and very reliable, as is our switchboard. In addition, we have a reliable back-up source for our data room.”


Smith’s manufacturing operation doesn’t have issues with its electrical systems either, thanks to its robust generator and battery backup capable of providing redundant power. Still, he emphasizes, any maintenance and repair activities must be scheduled and performed to accommodate work schedules. “And departmental workloads must be considered.”

Unfortunately, some facility personnel may not be knowledgeable or adequately trained in the specific equipment or power distribution systems that comprise the electrical infrastructure at their sites. With regard to preventive maintenance of an operation’s electrical system, special skills and knowledge are required, which is why this work is often outsourced. Based on their own responsibilities with regard to electrical work, Morton and Smith offer the following tips for other facility managers:

0115f2-31. Qualifying electrical workers

Due to the increasing complexity and interconnectivity of today’s electrical systems, few companies have the in-house experience to service all of a facility’s electrical components. Facility management needs to ensure that electrical workers are qualified, as defined by OSHA and NFPA 70E, to work on the specific equipment that is to be maintained. This applies to in-house staff, as well as third-party contractors. Fundamental require-
ments include:

  • A complete understanding of equipment, the required work scope and electrical hazards present.
  • Proper use of personal protective equipment (PPE), tools, shielding and test equipment as well as precautionary techniques.
  • Discipline and decision-making skills to determine risk and ability to maintain a safe work environment.

For maintenance and testing activities, an in-depth interview of potential electrical service providers is suggested, and applicable references should be obtained. Ask questions up front relative to Field Personnel Competency Training to determine product knowledge. Morton and Smith say it’s important to learn about the service provider’s safety training program. As noted, the company that outsources the work is responsible for workplace safety, whether the maintenance worker is an employee or a contractor.

2. Outsourcing electrical work

Morton and Smith point out that if a site elects to outsource its electrical work, its facility engineer(s) still have several crucial responsibilities:

Facility engineers should obtain and maintain all of the operations and maintenance manuals that accompanied the original electrical equipment. If any have been discarded, misplaced or lost, the original equipment manufacturer (or their representative) should be contacted and replacement copies requested. These documents are often available online and can be searched by the manufacturer’s name and electrical equipment identification.

Facility engineers must be clear regarding the specific equipment they desire to have cleaned, inspected, maintained, serviced and tested, as well as be clear regarding each piece of electrical equipment that is to be removed from service for inspection, maintenance or testing.

Before any electrical maintenance program is initiated or contracted, facility management should provide exact, detailed and up-to-date one-line diagrams of the entire electrical-power-distribution system. These records should also indicate the specific location, room number, floor or area location where each piece of electrical power distribution equipment can be found. If this documentation is not available or is out of date, the services of a licensed professional electrical engineer should be contracted and commissioned to create and maintain current electrical one-line diagrams and equipment name-plate data.

The facility’s needs for temporary electrical power must be met during a scheduled maintenance interruption. Facility engineers should ensure the availability of a temporary power source.

3. Ensuring safe, efficient, reliable electricity

Both Morton and Smith agree that having a preventive maintenance program in place helps mitigate the risk of unplanned downtime. They also recommend a battery back-up as well as back-up generator capabilities, because even with regularly scheduled preventive maintenance, all facilities will experience unplanned electrical outages from time to time.  MT


4:27 pm
November 4, 2014
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Improved Gas-Turbine Performance: Maintaining Inlet Fogging Systems


These turbine-output boosters work well with little maintenance, but  require proper installation and regular monitoring.

By Jane Alexander, Managing Editor

Since their introduction more than two decades ago, gas-turbine inlet-air-fogging systems have been used with turbines across industry, including those found in power-generation applications. Inlet fogging boosts turbine output by cooling the air, especially on hot afternoons when demand is often at peak. While these systems usually require little maintenance and operate trouble-free for many years, they must be installed and maintained properly to produce the desired result. Fogging equipment expert Thomas Mee offers the following advice for keeping these systems—and in turn, the turbines with which they are associated—in top shape.

Fog nozzles

The most important factor for proper operation of a fog system, Mee says, is to use nozzles that make very small water droplets. Large droplets not only take more time to evaporate, they are less able to follow airflow around obstructions such as inlet-silencer panels and duct-support structures. Also, larger droplets are more likely to collect on duct obstructions or settle to the duct floor. If fog droplets impact on duct-support struts or trash screens, water will accumulate. This accumulated water can be stripped off by high-velocity airflow in the form of very large secondary droplets with a diameter of one millimeter (1000 microns) or more. Droplets that impact on silencer panels or duct walls can also create flowing and pooling water on inlet duct walls or on the floor.

Small droplets ensure that water evaporates quickly without causing excessive accumulation in the inlet ducts. Furthermore, because there is usually not sufficient time for all droplets to fully evaporate, any that don’t evaporate must be small enough to not cause compressor blade erosion.

Mee notes the importance of installing nozzles in the proper locations in the inlet duct. In fog systems used primarily for evaporative cooling, nozzles should be located in the filter house to allow maximum evaporation time. Systems used primarily for overspray or wet compression should have them located close to the compressor inlet. True fog droplets do not cause compressor erosion, but if large secondary droplets exist in the airflow, or if water is allowed to accumulate near the compressor inlet where it can be suctioned into the compressor as large droplets, blade erosion can occur.

Key needs: pure water, clean ducts

Fogging systems require that demineralized water be used to prevent mineral build-up on compressor blades or hot-gas-path corrosion that could be caused by the dissolved minerals present in untreated water. Mee recommends using demineralized water with less than one part per million of total dissolved minerals—conductivity of 2 mS/cm or less.

Prior to restarting a fog system that has been off-line for a long period of time, inlet duct surfaces and silencer panels should be thoroughly cleaned. This includes recoating duct surfaces that have rust or a compromised coating. If this process is skipped, dirt or other material that has accumulated on duct surfaces and silencer panels can be carried to the compressor, leading to compressor fouling. If compressor fouling occurs, it may be because the compressor is suctioning dirty water from the duct walls and floor.

Fog-nozzle maintenance

While fog nozzles typically require little maintenance, they should be visually checked at least once per year. Any nozzles that are plugged or have deformed spray plumes—usually none or less than one percent—should be replaced. Most fog nozzles have an integral filter, which can be replaced in the field. A plugged or damaged nozzle can also be returned to the manufacturer for cleaning and reworking.

Excessive nozzle plugging can occur if carbon steel or galvanized pipefittings or components are installed in the flow path of demineralized water. Any such fittings should be replaced with stainless steel or plastic fittings. Bacterial fouling of fog-nozzle filters can also occur if water is allowed to stand in fog-system pipes for long periods. Ideally, automatic drain valves are in place to drain fog-system pipes every evening. Systems without drain valves should be drained at the end of the fogging season to prevent growth of anaerobic bacteria in feed and nozzle lines.

It’s also important to drain all water from any system that could be subject to freezing during the off-season. High-pressure filters should be used to collect any pump-seal material or other particles before they get to the nozzle filters. Also, a pressure sensor located downstream of the high-pressure filters should be used to ensure that the fog system shuts down if the filters become clogged. This will also prevent operation of the system with low-pressure water, which would result in larger droplets being formed. Upgrading to high-pressure filters is a good idea for any fog-system without them.

Correcting poor manifold design

A fog nozzle that produces large droplets, or an improperly designed fog-nozzle manifold, can result in excessive water in the inlet ducts. Due to minimal mixing of air in the inlet duct, a poor nozzle manifold design can result in over-fogging of some of the airflow and no fogging in the rest of it. According to Mee, this can greatly increase evaporation time for the bulk of the fog spray. It also increases droplet fallout and can decrease power boost because not all of the water is being used to cool the inlet air. Additionally, droplets that don’t evaporate in the inlet airflow are carried to the compressor, but evaporating water in the compressor produces much less power boost than it does when it evaporates in the inlet air.

Improperly designed nozzle manifolds can also result in temperature and airflow distortions at the compressor inlet. A common error is to leave large gaps at the edges of the nozzle manifolds—between duct walls, floor and ceiling and the nozzle lines. If too much untreated air is allowed to flow past the nozzle lines, uneven cooling can result, which can lead to compressor blade flutter and compressor maintenance issues over time.

Computational fluid dynamic (CFD) modeling can be used to determine ideal nozzle spacing arrangements for even cooling at different loads, ambient temperatures and relative humidity levels. In some cases it can be beneficial to locate a higher concentration of fog nozzles in areas of a duct cross-section that have higher airflow and fewer in areas with lower airflow.

Retrofitting poorly designed nozzle manifolds is inexpensive and can be accomplished in a day or two of outage. It’s recommended for systems that don’t produce the expected power boost or that have excessive amounts of water in the inlet ducts.

Upgrading duct drains

Properly designed drainage systems are vital for the removal of water that accumulates on walls or duct floors where it could be suctioned into the compressor. Simple water diverters and gutters can be used to direct water to drainage points. But high-velocity airflow over the floor near the compressor can cause water to pile up even if there is an open drain point nearby. If this occurs, a false floor can be installed above the drain point to allow water to flow to the drain without being suctioned into the compressor.

It’s recommended to install a viewing window and adequate lighting near the compressor inlet so the area can be monitored both for water accumulation and/or to validate the design of nozzle manifolds and duct drains.

Water-filter maintenance

Sub-micron water filters on the fog pump skid are normally replaced annually if the full-flow pressure drop is more than 5 psi. Excessive filter plugging can occur if carbon steel or galvanized fittings are used in the demineralized water piping system.

If the raw water source is surface water, such as from a river, lake or pond, the water-treatment system should be designed to remove colloidal solids. These are particles of sand or clay typically less than one micron in diameter, and can be present in water that appears clear to the naked eye. A properly designed fog pump skid has sub-micron filters to remove colloidal particles because the particles can damage the fogging nozzles. However, high levels of particles will rapidly plug the skid filters. Frequent plugging of the pump skid filters can often be resolved by installing high-capacity sub-micron filters with automatic backwash capability.

Pump maintenance

High-pressure ceramic plunger pumps require oil changes and seal replacement. Pump manufacturers often recommend changing oil every 500 hours, but many operators have extended oil changes to 4000 hours or longer without problems. Because demineralized water is a poor lubricant, pump seals in ceramic plunger pumps can have a short life span—typically around 500 hours with highly purified water.

Water dripping from a high-pressure pump indicates that seals have reached the end of their useful lifespan and require replacement. Fog systems that operate for more than 500 hours per year should use seal-flushed pumps to extend pump-seal life. Seal-flush pumps, which feature a secondary water flush for low-pressure seals, have been demonstrated to operate more than 6000 hours between seal replacements. Those who want more time between seal replacement should consider replacing existing pumps with seal-flush pumps.

Certain pump designs don’t require seal replacement or lubricating oil. These use the water as lubricant and are purported to require no maintenance for extended periods. However, they cost more than ceramic plunger pumps and require a factory rebuild approximately every 8,000 hours. Also, proper installation is critical for these pumps because they are susceptible to total failure if air is entrained in the water supplied to the pumps. Air-purge systems are available to ensure against this type of pump failure.

Protecting the compressor

Several gas-turbine OEMs have identified poorly designed fog systems as a source of compressor blade erosion. As noted, droplet size is the single most important factor in avoiding blade erosion, and research and experience have shown that inlet fogging droplets of 20 microns or less do not cause erosion. The tactics described above that include retrofitting better nozzles and manifolds can also protect the compressor from damage.

If a fog system suddenly shuts down due to system failure or operator error, it is possible for the sudden introduction of much warmer air to cause a compressor surge. This can be avoided by installing a pressure vessel on the high-pressure water lines that allows the fog spray to be gradually reduced over a few seconds.

Also note that while some older versions of the fog-system software that controls the amount of fog injected into the inlet do not account for changes in inlet air mass flow when the turbine is operated at part load. However, software modifications can often be made inexpensively that will take input from IGV (inlet guide vane) position so fog flow decreases in proportion to inlet airflow. MT

Thomas Mee, III, is CEO of Mee Industries, Irwindale, CA. The company has installed nearly 1000 fogging systems on gas turbines worldwide. It also provides fogging for building and data-center humidification, special effects, dust control and other applications. For more information, visit


2:48 pm
November 4, 2014
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ROI From Improved Emergency Power Protection


Leveraging best practices in maintenance with state-of-the-art monitoring technologies and remote services will keep your UPS systems in compliance, reliable and available.

By Jane Alexander, Managing Editor

Because uninterruptible power supply (UPS) units and their batteries must function properly during unplanned outages, a compromised emergency power system can mean serious trouble. At this critical time, batteries supply power to digital control systems and emergency lube oil pumps, enabling automatic controls to do their job.

In applications like oil and gas, petrochemical and power generation, dead batteries that prolong power interruption can cause dangerous chemical-process instability, damage to equipment or, in some cases, the shutdown of a facility. Damaged equipment could take months and millions to repair, while lost power production could be more expensive and lead to fines and penalties. For example, in a recent case regarding the 2011 blackout in the southwest United States, a public power entity agreed to pay a $12 million civil penalty for its role in the outage.

According to Wally Vahlstrom, Director of Technical Services for Emerson Network Power’s Reliability Services group, a proper preventive maintenance program can help a plant avoid those types of costly incidents and, in turn, provide several added benefits.

Benefit: battery-testing compliance

Every emergency power system contains life-limited components that should be maintained according to recommendations from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), manufacturer specifications and as required by the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC). Batteries are no exception. In the event of a power outage, a single bad cell in a battery string could compromise the entire backup system and leave a plant without protection.

While UPS battery manufacturers may market their batteries with a 10-year design life or life span, actual battery service life could be much shorter due to the external factors that cause degradation. Several effects that can shorten battery life include:

  • Frequent discharge cycles
  • High or improper room temperatures
  • High or low charge voltage
  • Excessive charge current
  • Manufacturing defects
  • Loose connections
  • Strained battery terminals
  • Poor and improper maintenance

In reality, batteries lose capacity in as little as three years. According to IEEE, the “useful life” of a UPS battery ends when it can no longer supply 80% of its rated capacity in ampere-hours. At this point, because the aging process accelerates, a battery should be replaced.


Benefit: increased battery life

Because of the many factors that can affect the useful life of a UPS battery, it is important that—as soon as it is placed into service—a battery be maintained with a program that identifies system anomalies and provides information that trends end-of-life. Through this type of maintenance program, plant owners and operators can get the most out of their investment in these critical assets.

Batteries that are beginning to fail cause an imbalance that adversely affects the life of other batteries in the string and should be removed from service. Moreover, when UPS battery replacement is needed, time is critical—especially in light of the financial impact an extended or unplanned outage can have on an organization. In a concerted effort to increase its system reliability, the public power entity cited in the above-referenced blackout expects to invest at least $20 million in battery storage facilities within its transmission operations area.


An increase in the number of annual preventive maintenance visits increases mean time between failure rates.

Benefit: maximized system reliability

To avoid UPS battery failure, the best practice is an approach that includes integrated battery monitoring and preventive maintenance (PM). In Emerson Network Power’s data analysis of more than 450 million operating hours for more than 24,000 strings of UPS batteries, the impact of regular preventive maintenance on reliability was clear. The analysis revealed that the mean time between failures (MTBF) for units that received two PM service visits a year is 23 times better than those that received no PM visits.

Furthermore, operations with battery monitoring systems installed at their sites had a reduced rate of outages due to bad batteries. While outages still occurred, the incidents were isolated to cases where customers were either not watching their system or did not know how to properly analyze the data provided by the monitor. This revealed the need for experts to correctly monitor the alarm data and properly maintain those systems.

Benefit: improved system availability

The ideal UPS battery maintenance program is one that uses monitoring in conjunction with remote services. Teams responsible for managing critical infrastructure are essentially able to augment their staff with a remote services solution that includes data acquisition, equipment trending, monitoring alert management, maintenance and remote diagnostics, as well as parts and service-personnel dispatch.

The latest technology, such as that used in Albér battery-monitoring products, can identify potential problems by tracking critical parameters like cell voltage, overall string voltage, current and temperature. Periodic tests of the battery’s internal resistance can also verify a battery’s operating integrity. For a UPS, technology can be embedded and allow, for example, continuous monitoring of multiple unique parameters. At defined intervals—or at the activation of a critical alarm—the monitoring device will communicate to a remote system engineer and provide alarm details, allowing immediate corrective action.

By combining monitoring with remote services, plant managers can define escalation plans that are executed upon any alarm condition. Your chosen service partner should have critical infrastructure experts available to support monitoring efforts 24/7 to improve overall system availability.  MT

Wally Vahlstrom is Director of Technical Services for the Electrical Reliability Services business of Emerson Network Power. For more information, visit


6:58 pm
July 18, 2014
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New Falcon Pd from Veyance Technologies Takes Synchronous-Belt Performance Higher

Screen Shot 2014-07-18 at 1.31.29 PMVeyance Technologies, exclusive manufacturer and marketer of Goodyear Engineered Products, says its recently released Falcon Pd is taking synchronous-belt performance to new heights.

Designed to be almost maintenance-free, the Falcon Pd incorporates an advanced HNBR rubber compound that provides a quieter, cleaner drive with a higher-horsepower capacity (up to 36% more) and a higher-torque output on lower-speed applications than the previous generation Falcon product.


5:51 pm
July 15, 2014
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Online Asset-Management Tool for Drivetrain Couplings Offered as a Subscription Service

Screen Shot 2014-07-15 at 12.19.30 PM

Emerson Industrial’s Power Transmission Solutions group has introduced the first online tool for tracking location, life history and latest-revision drawings and installation instructions for all critical drivetrain couplings owned by its customers, whether the units are installed or in spares inventory.

Developed by Emerson’s Kop-Flex business unit, the Web-based tool, known as the Asset Management Program (AMP) for couplings (Coupling AMP), accurately identifies couplings, graphically displays their location in a specific drive, identifies parts/couplings at the site that are interchangeable, makes assembly drawings a click away and gives a detailed service history and action to be taken during service intervals. Moreover, the program makes the information available 24/7 on the Internet. Developed by a worldwide engineering team experienced in coupling design, maintenance, repair and troubleshooting, the Coupling AMP provides in-depth information on components critical to the operation of major systems such as compressors, turbines and pumps.

According to Parimal Deshpande, Senior Industry Specialist for Kop-Flex,  plant engineers plan shutdown maintenance with tight timeframes, yet they struggle to identify couplings by make, model, serial number, stock code, manufacturer’s part number and the like. Emergencies only add to this disorganization, he says.

“Engineers may take parts from new or old couplings and use them in repairs. This is not only bad practice because of balancing issues, but it makes it almost impossible to track where all these parts went, and what’s been stripped from old or new couplings, etc. In a couple of years, they have no idea what’s happening. It’s very difficult to track the service history of couplings. Customers told us there’s no commercially available software designed with a friendly, useful system to organize the needed information the way they’d like to access it.” Coupling AMP, Deshpande says, addresses that void.

This new online coupling asset-management tool is a subscription service maintained by Emerson. It begins with a survey of a customer’s site by a Kop-Flex representative where all relevant data is collected. Kop-Flex then populates the Coupling AMP for the customer and provides a user name and password. Edits and additions are handled via e-mail to Kop-Flex.

The new offering will be introduced and demonstrated at the Turbomachinery Show, September 22-25, in Emerson’s booth 1231. The demonstration site is available at, with the login and password of “turbouser.” Users can see two plants and two rotating equipment assemblies in each, with sample data.

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