Internet-based retailers around the world consider logistics and achieving on time delivery paramount to the overall customer experience. Their distribution and sorting facilities are key in keeping their operations running smoothly. One of the techniques used to ensure reliable and safe operations is utilizing a Predictive Maintenance strategy on key assets within their facilities.
Predictive Maintenance (PdM) is a reliability based maintenance strategy designed to proactively monitor the health of critical assets. By monitoring the condition, the onset of impending failure can be detected and alleviated before significant unplanned shutdowns or catastrophic events occur. PdM techniques have a proven track record across a wide variety of industries and applications, resulting in an increase in the equipment’s availability which facilities need to achieve their throughput goals. Infrared inspection is one of the predictive techniques utilized for detecting thermal anomalies within electrical systems, distributions panels, switchgear, breakers, disconnects and a like.
One of the world’s largest retailer engages Predictive Service, a global provider of enterprise asset management solutions, to conduct infrared inspection at their North American facilities. Their goal is simple, to ensure their equipment runs safely and when it’s needed. One of the many example of the types of problems found during these inspections is detailed below:
A thermal problem was detected during an electrical infrared inspection on an 800 amp main breaker within a critical distribution panel at a facility in Pennsylvania. The problem temperature was indirectly measured at 371°F. Indirect measurements are used when there is no clear path to the actual anomaly. In this case, the line side bus connection was covered by a red plastic shield preventing the view of the actual bus. If a direct measurement could have been taken, the temperature would be much higher at the point of the poor connection.
As this particular problem was considered critical, our recommendation was to remove the breaker from service as soon as possible. Maintenance personnel removed and repaired the system during the night shift and placed the system back in operations with minimal impact to production. Without this proactive detection and expert analysis of the infrared images, a failure was imminent, with high probability of causing an unplanned shutdown event, risking electrical fire and the prolong downtime of the assets being served by this breaker.