Extracting Business Opportunities from Electrical Audit Excellence
By Dr. Shree Nanguneri and Mr. Rao, G*
As originally published on January 23rd, 2013
Electrical Audit Excellence
This sequel to Part – I deals with solving problems and leveraging opportunities in the field of electrical audits, where project managers working within or outside their project scope in their organizations, can make a significant contribution to the business’ safe operations primarily and their bottom line. As project managers, we can bring benefits from electrical audit excellence, ranging from dealing with hazard prevention to emergency planning within the community, where the organization operates.
An excellence in this area is needed, as most of the non-compliant areas can be assessed proactively for the respective steps to be taken, to minimize gaps in compliance by project managers. Again, project managers could be either working in these areas or otherwise can simply observe and share information constructively with their management.
This part also contains the flow of how such audits are executed and where these problems and opportunities could lie based on the experience of the authors. By understanding and quantifying such opportunities and problems, the management could then plan on a proactive basis and increase their profitability as well as success with delighting their customers. Finally, project managers can share the NCR(Non Conformance Report) statistics in a general manner, to help corporations quantify these opportunities within their organizations.
In part II of our series, we will share the problems that can be solved and opportunities that can be explored, in the field of electrical audits, with organizations where project managers are part of teams leading such high value projects. As a project manager, I am constantly looking to add value to my client or employer, by sharing the status of ongoing safety issue or at the extreme, the need for emergency planning. An approach of excellence in this area is needed, as most of the non-compliant areas can be assessed proactively and the respective steps could be taken, to minimize the gaps in compliance. This part also contains a very basic introduction of the flow of such audits, showing me as to where these problems and opportunities lie. As a project manager either within or outside of my scope of work, by understanding and quantifying such opportunities and problems, with my management I could then contribute toward a proactive plan, to help them increase their profitability, as well as success with delighting their customers. The Non Conformance Report (NCR) statistics is one of the most popular measures; I would look to help corporations quantify these opportunities within their organizations, prior to solving the problem itself.
Need for Electrical Audit Excellence (EAEx):
Let us begin, by asking what is Electrical Audit Excellence (EAEx) all about. EAEx is to foresee and effectively minimize and/or eliminate the anomalies in any Electrical System Installation, in order to ensure safety of life (of humans and animals), materials, and the physical infrastructure termed as asset property.
The dictionary meaning of anomaly is “something that deviates from what is standard, normal or expected”. Project managers come across at least three types of opportunities to address these anomalies, such as the 3Ds (Defects, Delays, and Deviations) in their day-to-day project management activities.
These anomalies point toward a “risk element” that needs to be first identified, categorized, quantified, prioritized, and characterized with respect to a target toward which it needs to be shifted to. Hence the EAP is basically an assessment to reduce and/or prevent risk. EAEx is essentially how well you minimize and/or prevent this risk. Risk is a possibility that an event will occur and adversely affect the achievement of objectives of an organization. There are two aspects to be looked in to, for an effective risk reduction and/or prevention:
- A near accurate or effective risk assessment, more like a quantifying process.
- An approach, to sustainably mitigate and/or eliminate the risk with acceptable side effects.
There are international standards available, for risk reduction and/or prevention, such as:
ISO: 31000:2009 – Risk Management Principles and guidelines when followed helps with EAEx.
Risk Categorization and Examples:
EAEx will help categorize the risks as Low, Medium and High Priority areas, for mitigation. A few examples are shown below:
- Abnormal heating, of electrical connections is a high priority area, to be addressed rapidly.
- An Infrared Thermal Scan of electrical connections, bus bars, cables, conducted every 3 or 6 months, based on problem severity.
- This scan displays areas of normal versus abnormal heating in the system.
- Rectification of overheated areas, becomes a high priority, now needing an immediate solution.
With the case of nominal heating, the categorization is described as medium or low priority. Low priority does not mean it can be ignored, whereas deemed important, but not urgent. Marginal heating may be due to overloading.
A study is usually conducted using a power quality analyzer, to check for long durations, the loads on the cables, breakers, to ascertain if overloading is taking place. In the event of overloading, cable capacity is increased during the planned shutdown of the plant or a select area. Maintaining a log of all tests and readings is essential toward an effective EAEx strategy.
An awareness, of the push and pulls, such as, Power Quality Issues, an electrical installation goes through, is necessary, in order to evolve a suitable Electrical Audit Process. The Electrical loads are constantly changing, due to advancement in technology. As project managers, we deal with improved technology needing the use of sophisticated electronic equipment. We have an increasing need for such nonlinear loads, such as Computers, UPS, Variable speed drives, electronic ballasts that raise the opportunity for electrical hazards. A decade ago, this type of risk from non-linear loads wasn’t as much as they are, in the second decade of this millennium.
Presence of such non-linear loads affects our role as a project manager, as this risk is directly associated with our daily functioning, if we faced problems such as heating of cables, neutral connections, capacitors, transformers, generators and circuit breakers. They also result in nuisance tripping. Equipment such as Data Servers, Computers, Electronic exchange, CNC drives, medical equipment, are all critical equipment used in industries such as Software Companies, Call Centers, Financial institutions, Manufacturing Industries, and Hospitals. The impact of equipment failures in these areas, due to poor power quality, will cause a disruption of services, loss of data, further equipment failures, calling for a high cost of equipment and parts replacement. The risk due to poor quality is high and thus an effective EAEx program is needed. There are challenges to achieving EAEx and they have to be addressed from time to time.
EAEx Involves Effectively Tackling of:
- Ill effects of poor power quality (Due to significant increase in non-linear loads)
- Handling Nonlinear Loads and
- Designing for the Voltage and current waveform distortions associated with such load levels
- Variations in voltage and current leakages, are to be addressed as well.
- Current distortions from nonlinear loads cannot be allowed to flow to the grid, where there are restrictions by grid codes on consumers.
- Voltage and Current Filter Remedies would be needed to eliminate such risks although they bear a significant investment.
- Manufacturers of such equipment are building such filters in to their products wherever feasible.
- Capacitors with Filters are also installed to improve power quality along with voltage and current filtering.
EAEx– A Two-Ingredient Formula:
- The person who conducts the audit should be well experienced and aware of:
- Codes and Standards (Local and National, sometimes global)
- Have an eye for details and
- Be conversant with the industry best practices
- Senior Management shall bear an intolerance to such risks and take steps to, follow safe practices as per standards, but also:
- Desirous of adopting best practices in areas such as:
- Latest technologies and practices in electrical engineering, and
- Adopting (green) energy conservation measures
- The second ingredient is the Management (of the company where audit is conducted):
As a project manager, audit excellence is a recipe for a safe and healthy electrical system installation. It is much easier to adopt or implement, if a proactive audit inspection is done from the inception of the project, through its various stages such as project commencement and implementation. Following are some of the examples that can be implemented for a better, safer and efficacious installation:
- Right grounding practices for large installations require proper ground design, distribution, and adequate earthing is essential.
- Effective and efficient grounding involves:
- Functional operation of the ground fault systems
- Besides, modern electronic equipment like computers, communication equipment, require that the Neutral to Ground Voltage level < 1.0 V
- Achievable by having a good grounding design. Both body ground and neutral ground are important.
- Isolation transformers can be used near critical equipment, for a better grounding of the Neutral.
- Clear identification of tags on different components of an electrical installation
- Effective circuit identification is critical for safety compliance
- Circuit ends should be terminated properly to avoid overheating and voltage fluctuation
- Encourage use of energy efficient equipment to promote conservation
Corporate Social Responsibility and EAEx:
As a project manager, there is an element of social responsibility when it comes to EAEx and this goes hand in hand with the corporate mission and vision statement, where the organization will strive to create a safe environment but also consume less energy for the same or increased workload (Manufacturing or Transactional). Variable costs associated with variable energy consumption, needs to decrease for the same number of units produced and the variation including the absolute amount, toward the fixed energy consumption should also decrease significantly. Some general actions, for energy savings, could be:
- Turning off lights when not in need (such as weekends, holidays or light duty schedules).
- Closing off all water taps, and dial all heating sources to be safe and conservative.
- Spread the word around with all project managers to make sure we are consistent
Conclusions and Recommendations for EAEx:
The goals and objectives of an EAEx initiative can be achieved by identifying, quantifying, categorizing to follow the prevailing industry best practices toward risk mitigation. Certain proactive maintenance methods such as Infrared Thermal Scan, can help in identifying problems, before they go out of control, causing loss of lives or damage to property. EAEx can be achieved by acting beyond essential codes and standards for safety. EAEx needs to delve upon solving problems arising out of contemporary issues such as Power Quality, while assisting in achieving energy savings.
We recommend project managers keep their eyes peeled open, for opportunities that can be leveraged. Sharing the areas of opportunity with your management is a great way to enhance your current value-add.
As a project manager you are going to either lead your team, in the area of electrical compliance or provide areas of focus and directions to proceed. With this approach you are one step closer, to catapulting the organization and your customers toward their next breakthrough via EAEx.
In Part III our conclusive part in this series, we will converge the topics by integrating electrical audit processes, with the principles of business process excellence, to assist project managers in enhancing their value within the organization, either to their customers and/or employers.
About the Authors:
Mr. Rao, G
I am an Electrical Installation Audit Consultant. I am engaged in activities such as: Electrical System Installation Audit, Compliance of installation with standards, Electricity Rules, Safety Assessment, Corrections to be made for electrical safety, Up gradation of facility, Analysis of failures due to power quality, Suggesting measures to improve, Assist in improving/upgrading electrical systems installation.