Arc Flash and IR Thermography
An arc flash is a short circuit through the air. When insulation or isolation between electrified conductors is breached or can no longer withstand the applied voltage, an arc flash occurs. As employees work on or near energized equipment or conductors, movement near or contact with the equipment, or a failure of the equipment may cause a direct fault.
Arc flash has the ability to be deadly. Injury from arc flash happens between 8 to 10 times a day across the United States. Sending a burn victim to the burn center with the medical costs exceeding in many cases 1 million according to the ERPI. Each facility has to be familiar with a program and the buildings electrified equipment must be rated and labeled as such. This is where we will get involved. We will gather all of the data required in the facility to calculate the correct fault potential for each piece of equipment. Next we will label the corresponding equipment and educate the facility department manager who will be in charge of setting up the equipment shutdown process.
OSHA 29 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 1910, Subpart S
This regulation states, in part, “Safety related work practices shall be employed to prevent electric shock or other injuries resulting from either direct or indirect electrical contacts…” OSHA also addresses the qualification of workers exposed to electrical shock hazards and the provision for protective equipment appropriate for the work to be performed. OSHA enforces safety practices and cites to the NFPA requirement.
NFPA 70-2002, National Electrical Code
Section 110.16 requires that companies place a warning label on equipment likely to cause arc flash conditions. This field marking can be generic or very specific, whichever the company selects. Future revisions of the NEC standard may require more detailed information on this label.
Thermography is the use of an infrared imaging and measurement camera to "see" and “measure” thermal energy emitted from an object. Thermal energy is light in the range that is not visible to the human eye. It's part of Planks Curve that we perceive as heat. Even very cold objects, such as ice, emit infrared. The higher the objects temperature, the greater the thermal emission. Infrared allows us to see what the human eye cannot. Infrared thermography cameras produce images of invisible infrared radiation and provide precise, non-contact temperature measurement capabilities.
Nearly everything creates heat before it fails, and this is where we have the ability to "catch" a potential problem, making it possible to schedule for an outage and correct the problem. Preventative maintenance programs are about saving down time and equipment failure. With this process, we will help to reduce both of these by helping set up a PM program and completing yearly inspections.
We have been working with this technology for the last six years, consistently reducing the amount of equipment failures for each of the facilities we work with.
In medical facilities this process is integral. Outages must be kept to an absolute minimum and infrared thermography is the leading way to predict the potential situations.