Infrastructure Reliability Part 3: Electrical System Reliability Engineering

May 17, 2023 | Stories & News | 0 comments

By Bryan Murillo, Electrical Engineer, Brindley Engineering

Reliability and maintenance of electrical power systems, equipment, and components increases employee and equipment safety, operating efficiency, and lowers overall maintenance cost. A reliable electrical system is the basis for production of all industrial processes. Welcome to Part 3 of Brindley Engineering’s 10-part series on Infrastructure Reliability. In Part 2 you read about process utilities, and in Part 1 you read about the risk of neglective critical infrastructure and protecting what matters. In Part 3 we will explore electrical reliability.

Identifying Site-Specific Electrical Issues

The reliability of power systems and electrical equipment varies from plant to plant and from industry to industry. Maintenance, Operations, and Management teams work with different quantities and qualities of electrical equipment, support different business critical processes, and follow different maintenance strategies. Nevertheless, it is important to identify the specific electrical issues of each site and determine how much maintenance is required, if maintenance budgets are being developed efficiently, and if the right kind of maintenance is being performed on the right equipment to meet the objectives of the business. Most importantly, facility personnel will have to evaluate if they should continue to maintain aging and obsolete equipment or upgrade with installation of new modern and current technology.

Importance of Electrical Inspections

Overall electrical system reliability is only as good as its weakest link. Many facilities lack the personnel to perform inspections of their existing equipment, the software infrastructure to store and organize objective inspection data, and the expertise to analyze inspection data to accurately predict the likelihood and severity of equipment failure along with its effect on the electrical system as a whole.

BE Inspection Methodology

Brindley Engineering has developed a methodology for inspecting electrical equipment such as transformers, motors, and uninterruptable power supplies (UPS). Taking further steps, Brindley Engineering has developed the software infrastructure to collect each inspection datapoint and the evaluation procedure for determining potential equipment failure with its associated cause and effects on plant processes.

Managing Your Assets

Clients are able to print detailed reports for each piece of equipment for use in general asset management, knowing what equipment is installed in the plant, its exact GPS location within the facility, current operating condition, number of spares onsite, and other data. More importantly, facility personnel are better positioned with accurately prioritized defect analysis for predictive maintenance tasks and allocating future funds for major equipment replacements.

coker feed barge loading pump

Coker Feed Barge Loading Pump

Brindley Engineering offers over 30 different inspection points on large A/C motors. In combination with the inspection, Brindley Engineering also analyzes how the motor fits into the electrical power system and the critical processes it supports. In the case shown, Brindley Engineering’s short-term recommendation was to have a direct spare onsite, with a larger engineering project to add a 2nd motor/pump and pipeline for redundancy and increased reliability.

unit substation UPS

Unit Substation UPS

Brindley Engineering analyzes the necessity of upgrading from obsolete equipment to modern technology. This specific UPS was installed at a major oil refinery. While its power requirements were within specification of the unit substation, this UPS was originally designed for commercial and telecommunication applications. Brindley Engineering’s recommendation is to replace with a more robust, heavy industry type UPS. This will increase the current critical power reliability, but also allows for future expansion of computer based “SMART” technology being offered across all different equipment types.

unit substation transformer

Unit Substation Transformer

Brindley Engineering recommends repair and maintenance practices of high, medium, and low voltage transformers. In most cases, large transformer replacement is a major capital investment consisting of substantial engineering hours and extensive scheduled downtime of plant production. Brindley Engineering provides targeted maintenance tasks for transformers, such as leak repairs, weld repairs, pressure testing, oil testing, bushing testing, and instrumentation replacement.


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