-Monday, March 01, 2021
Modern air and vacuum circuit breakers are an integral part of all industrial and commercial electrical systems. Failure of just one of these breakers can have far reaching ramifications for both production and finances. Preventing these failures is the goal of any good maintenance program and consists of two basic layers:
1. Regular preventative mainteance (PM) programs not only add reliability to your system but can also point out potential problems so they can be proactively dealt with in a cost effective manner. Nobody wants "unscheduled" outages because a component has failed and as a result, damaged other equipment in the process and interrupted production. PM programs can be scheduled around production schedules (holidays, weekends, nights...) and include a basic clean and test work scope in which breakers are cleaned, lubed and tested for insulation and contact resistance, primary or secondary injection of the trip units. Frequency of these schedules is also dependent upon the ambient conditions that the switchgear and breakers are exposed to. There is a big difference between a paper mill and a hospital environment. This work may be able to be performed in the field, but it is best handled in the controlled conditions of a quality shop that specializes in this work.
2. Remanufacture and or retrofit offers significant life extension and reliability of your air and vacuum circuit breakers. It differentiates itself from a PM program in several ways. The primary difference is work scope. A remanufacturing program like NPE's "Class One" program includes a full disassembly and inspection of each individual component, right down to the last spring and washer. Once inspected, the components are cleaned and plated according to the components use. Current carrying parts are silver plated and mechanism parts are generally zinc plated, although there are a few minor exceptions like phosphate plating. Painted parts are stripped to the base metal, primed and painted, the wiring is replaced with fresh SIS wiring customized to the existing prints. Replacement parts are available from our inventory if used and aftermarket parts with little or no delays to the rebuild. Also, now is the time to replace solenoid coils and rewind motors as needed and upgrade low voltage breakers to a modern solid state overcurrent trip system like Utility Relay's AC Pro or AC Pro II. This type of work scope cannot be done in the field and typically involves shipping to a facility like NPE for a 4-6 week turnaround. Any good remanufacturing program will provide you with test reports indicating that the breaker is ready for service and a warranty. NPE is so confident in its rebuild program that it has extended the industry standard one year warranty to two years.
Having an integral part of your infrastructure out of service for four to six weeks can be a major hurdle to overcome for many facilities. Ideally, a spare breaker should be on hand for each application and swapped out as needed for remanufacture and upgrade, but many facilities may not have adequate spares on hand. That is where a stocking distribultor like NPE can be a beneficial partner. NPE has the inventory to either provide spares for your swap out program or we can rebuild breakers out of our inventory and swap them for yours during the change out.
Still not sure what to do? As someone once said, you always have three choices..."the right choice, the wrong choice and no choice; and the last two are the same thing", of the three options, which do you choose? If you choose the first one, give us a call or drop us an email, we'll be happy to discuss your issues and provide a long or short term solution. Otherwise, we'll probably be hearing from you after choice two or three kicks in!