It’s generally accepted that no industrial facility can function without an adequate electrical supply, but far too many are working with electrical systems that are far less than ideal. If it’s been a while since your facility’s wiring system has been evaluated, there are five things to know about modernizing industrial wiring.
Careful Planning for Updates or Rewiring is Crucial
Modern manufacturing equipment is far more complex than the machinery commonly seen during the last century. The majority of machinery today is computer controlled, suggesting the need for electrical systems designed to meet the exacting needs of computers. Voltage variations are no longer acceptable, and trying to get by without updating aging systems can quickly lead to damage and costly downtime.
As existing plants expanded, the electrical systems were, typically, simply added to. That type of hodge-podge arrangement creates inefficiencies and redundancies that don’t make effective use of an organization’s resources.
However,carefully planning updates or rewiring won’t always be a simple process.Industry experts recognize the unique needs of industrial facilities and have developed strategies that effectively meet those demands. NFPA 79 requirements, for example,differ to some extent from NEC regulations, which means installers must consider all aspects of a project during the planning stages.
Safety Is Always an Issue
Workplace accidents are costly. Not only are monetary losses significant, the loss of valuable employees can set back projects or slow production. That’s why safety concerns are always considerations when designing new industrial electrical systems or updating existing ones. OSHA’s training materials go into great length discussing safety issues and how to avoid possible problems.
Rather than risking an array of issues when a facility’s electrical wiring is less than adequate, it’s always a good idea to incorporate safety recommendations during design, construction, and maintenance projects.
Change is a Certainty
One of the issues far too many organizations ignore is change. While all industries have evolved over the years, the pace of change is accelerating. That means organizations must always consider how future needs will be addressed. Most design experts are now recommending companies consider where their industries are going and how today’s construction projects can leave room for changes as they occur. It’s far easier to plan for the future now rather than ignore future challenges that are inevitable.
Choosing Installation Strategies is Increasingly Important
The materials used during new installations or rewiring are also evolving. Choosing the best types of panels, wire, and fixtures can save money now and simplify updates in the future. Innovations like the use of cable chain, for example, have revolutionized industrial wiring.
Using the best materials also reduces maintenance needs. If you’re currently in the design phase of a project, look for materials rated to withstand the rigors of the environments they’ll be used in. Of course, applicable codes already set minimum standards, but it frequently pays to exceed those minimal standards and specify products that are likely to last longer and generate fewer maintenance needs.
Set Workmanship Standards
The last item on this list revolves around quality workmanship. Even the best materials won’t guarantee a quality industrial electrical system installation if the workmanship is less than optimal. Insist on true quality from the contractors used, and make sure systems are carefully evaluated at each stage of the project. Keeping everything organized before, during, and after an industrial electrical system is installed or updated pays off handsomely, as injuries are reduced, production downtime is minimized, and overall costs are better contained.