Fluke - I’ll Leave the Meter Running!

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How an electrician with a power quality analyzer solved a mystery, saved a company a lot of money, and helped protect a plant's safety

The powerful blowers that transport powdered cement from the transport barge to on-shore storage silos were shutting down too often. So too were the cranes, dust collectors, and other equipment supplied by a 1,600-amp circuit breaker (set to trip at 1,200 amps) that was tripping regularly. Unwilling to continue losing valuable production time, the cement company was considering adding another 4,160-volt feeder from the main switchboard to the transformer at a cost of about $250,000. But before talking that expensive step, the company called in electrical contractor and systems integrator Keithly Electric, seeking a better understanding of what was going wrong.

Suiting Up, Going Hunting

Keithly Electric dispatched electrician Mark Baron, who suited up in his "flash gear"-the flame-retardant overalls, balaclava, 5 kV-rated rubber gloves, switching hood, and other personal protective equipment that help to protect people who work with industrial-strength electricity. Then he connected a Fluke 1745 Power Quality Logger to the secondary of the 4,160-to-480-volt transformer that supplied the barge.

"I have found the Fluke 1745 power quality analyzer to be an excellent tool for troubleshooting power quality issues," Baron said. "these instruments can simultaneously log up to 500 parameters for up to 85 days to uncover intermittent and hard-to-find-power quality issues. I download the data recorded by the instrument to a personal computer. Software included with the instrument runs on the computer to analyze trends, create statistical summaries, and generate detailed graphs and tables to quickly assess the quality of power at the service entrance, substation or load."...

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