First principles, emergency lighting, VFDs, hazloc and more — reflections from IEEE ESTMP 2018

Anthony Capkun
June 20, 2018
By
June 20, 2018 — Regular readers of Electrical Business Magazine and visitors to EBMag.com may have noticed that one of the events for which I get particularly excited about attending is the ESTMP in Alberta—the IEEE IAS Electrical Safety, Technical, Maintenance & Projects Workshop (sites.ieee.org/estmp).

This distinctively Canadian and uniquely Albertan event continues to impress me with its educational track, learned speakers, and loyal supporters and delegates. It always boasts a great mix of electrical engineers (both in-house and consulting), manufacturers, agents, distributors and contractors. There’s also a dynamic range in age and years in the industry among the delegates themselves, from seasoned veterans (possibly retired) to up-and-comers fresh out of school.

And I also had the pleasure of being able to personally deliver a 2017 Canadian Electrical Award to Nicolas Leblanc and Allen Kachurowski for the Shell Scotford Refinery turnaround project.

I took pages and pages of notes during the technical sessions—only a fraction of which (sadly) will end up in this report. The next ESTMP is scheduled for March 2020 in Edmonton. We don’t have the exact date/location yet, so stay tuned to EBMag or follow us on Twitter @EBMag.

SEE ALSO: PHOTOS from the ESTMP 2018 in Calgary.

Kent Zehr: A champion for “first principles”

The workshop opened with Kent Zehr, who did an excellent job of setting the stage for what the ESTMP is all about—discussions with peers about the good, the bad and the ugly. Kent’s discussion revolved mainly around the ugly; specifically, why have projects become so expensive to complete?

Among the issues, Kent pointed out, is when paperwork and administration goes off the rails. He gave the example of how, on one job, the requisition form for a certain basic item grew to 780 pages. “For the same project, the number of approving signatures required was 190... and that’s just to get a quote, not even to purchase.”

Quality, too, is another area where projects trip over themselves. “Quality cannot be inspected into a job,” Kent said, yet rather than look at the root cause of a problem, we increase inspections. “And we fall into the trap of thinking we can tell the manufacturer how to build his product.”

I could go on with many of Kent’s insights, but I think his ultimate goal was to convince delegates to stop doing things the way they’ve always been done, stop reusing old outdated owner standards, etc. “We should rely on sound engineering practices to achieve the best outcome.”

“In every new large job, spend time and effort developing plans and specs from first principles,” Kent advised. This helps you avoid overbuilding a project, which drives up costs, gives the owner more than he needs and, most importantly, adds no value.

“Designs resulting from first principles have a better chance at delivering a successful project at minimal capital cost.”

Pat Robinson: VFD mistakes and misconceptions

Variable-frequency drives will become more common, noted Pat Robinson during his presentation so, if you haven’t already, it’s time to start considering VFDs alongside anything you do with motors.

VFDs reduce motor maintenance and utility flicker, and save you energy. This is particularly important, Pat said, because green energy initiatives will triple the cost of your energy. In fact, Pat also figures green energy will increase occurrences of grid flicker, because it’s simply not as robust as gas- or coal-fired generation.

When done right, a VFD’s TIC (total installed cost) is about 2-3X that of the motor; when done wrong, however, the TIC is 4-6X the cost of the motor. With a nod to Kent’s first principles, Pat advised against the blanket adoption of specs, which may result in either an undersized or oversized installation.

As such, design the motor and VFD together “for enhanced reliability and availability, and to minimize TIC”.

Bianca Sporea: Slow-cooking transformers

With coffee in hand, Bianca Sporea discussed the importance of cooling system management for oil-immersed power transformers, sharing lessons learned at TransAlta. XFMR life expectancy is, in fact, usually determined the highest (hottest spot) temperature. “We want our XFMRs to last 40-60 years, not 20,” she said.

XFMRs are not maintenance-free, Bianca warned, advising delegates to watch their control temperature settings, and suggesting they conduct thermal studies when designing the cooling system and taking “harmonically-rich load settings” into consideration.

Panel presentation: hazardous locations

You may be thinking, “Are hazardous location standards ever going to stop changing?”. Probably not, nor would we want them to! Of all the areas we want to get right (or as right as possible), let it be hazardous locations.

Tim Driscoll opened the panel presentation with a discussion of the American Petroleum Institute’s API 505 “Recommended practice for classification of locations for electrical installations at petroleum facilities classified as Class I, Zone 0, Zone 1, and Zone 2”. He said the new standard will contain special info for LNG because liquefied natural gas displays “special” material properties. Tim also touched upon the CE Code (2018) Section 18, and Alberta’s Oil & Gas Electrical and Occupational Health & Safety codes.

George Morlidge took the mike to delve into hazardous location treatment in the 2018 CE Code, focusing on important changes, such as the term “intrinsically safe” (IS). “I encourage you to read the Notes under Table 18,” George said. “There’s good in- formation there, and Section 18 regularly refers you to Table 18 for guidance.”

Allan Bozek then helped explain what is meant by “intrinsically safe”, noting that our CE Code is playing catch-up with the rest of the world. But with an IS circuit, how do you know it’s intrinsically safe? Allan’s answer is to engineer the circuit, then document it. Thankfully, “Appendix F has been rewritten to provide guidance on preparing engineering documentation of IS and non-incendive circuits”.

Closing out the hazloc presentation was Marty Cole, who spoke about hazloc equipment certification. He reminded us that, ultimately, end users care about the performance of their equipment, and that any associated certification Marks are acceptable to the Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ).

“Certification marks aren’t so simple,” Marty warned, adding that products are only certified “when they leave the factory.” A manufacturer cannot say for certain whether a product is still certified after installation because, naturally, they’re not the ones who installed it nor do they know what, if anything, was done to the equipment after leaving the factory.

Presentation: Conductor ampacity

I’ll admit it... some IEEE presentations are beyond me when it comes to technical content, and I feared the presentation “The physics of conductor ampacity” would go over my head. But I was pleasantly surprised when Kris Sommerstad took to the podium (with Duane Leschert, Blair Sackney and Scott Basinger there for Q&A support).

Quoting IEEE 141 “Recommended practice for electric power distribution for industrial plants”, Kris got back to basics and explained the primary function of a cable is to carry energy reliably between the source and where it is utilized. “The maximum current a conductor can carry without damage, long-term (steady-state) is known as its ampacity... [but an] energized cable produces heat.”

So we get to the temperature rating of an insulated cable and, in line with that, you must consider all the things that may affect the ambient temperature of your cable run. “A normal cable run in an industrial plant will often run through numerous installation types between the source and the load,” like free air, random-fill cable tray, direct buried, etc., Kris said, and all of these environments will affect, to some extent, the cable run’s ampacity.

“The ampacity of a cable is as high as its weakest link,” said Kris.

Kerry Heid: CSA Z463 and equipment maintenance

“We’ve really started to tie together electrical safety with equipment maintenance,” noted Kerry Heid, CSA Z463 committee chair. “Equipment that doesn’t work as it should trumps your electrical safety program.”

Back in 2011, we reported CSA started developing a guideline for electrical equipment maintenance. What became known as CSA Z463 “Maintenance of electrical systems” is marking a special occasion this year, as the 2018 edition will graduate from guideline into standard.

CSA Z463 2018 will be released this September, and it will contain “lots of really cool asset management tools”. It will help you develop a strategy for documenting your electrical maintenance program, and it comes with a heat map (essentially, a risk matrix), as not all electrical equipment is treated the same.

Rick Paes: energy optimization

Induction motors are a logical target for energy savings, argued Rick Paes, accounting for nearly 40% of total electrical energy used in industry (and likely higher in oil & gas). In the oil & gas sector, centrifugal pumps are common, and there are lots of slurry pumps in Alberta, as well as electric submersible pumps.

To save energy, the simplest strategy is to turn motors off when not in use, said Rick, but motors can also be managed via timers, sensors and controllers. Or perhaps it is more cost-effective to run a motor full-out for shorter periods rather than a long time at an inefficient duty cycle. Most HVAC equipment comes preset from the factory, but maybe adjusting the motor to a slower speed will save energy while still delivering the required air flow.

Rick presented a number of points like these to consider, before proclaiming “Energy monitoring is going to be big”. As such, start trending your power usage. Can you shift to off-peak? And are you considering VFDs? If so, there’s a VFD rebate program offered through Energy Efficiency Alberta.

Centralized emergency lighting design

The education track split into two streams by Day 2 of the workshop, and that’s how I missed the session on centralized emergency lighting design. But the content really intrigued me, so I contacted the session’s presenters—Gerry Shand and Greg Whiting—to learn more. Gerry was good enough to send me the paper, where I found the following claim in the abstract:

This paper examines an innovative alternative to traditional emergency lighting design and power distribution. Commercial, institutional and industrial settings can take advantage of this approach, as it is scalable to meet the required emergency lighting load requirements. The concept uses commonly available components in a centralized scenario without creating a single point of failure.

What caught my eye, specifically, were the words “commonly available” and “without creating a single point of failure”.

(Between you and me, we’re working on getting an article on this very subject into the pages of EBMag.)

An obvious issue with current emergency lighting is the fact that unit testing is often a manual function performed by plant personnel. This process comes with some disadvantages, such as personnel remembering to run the tests, lack of automatic test record-keeping, insufficient battery test time, and working at heights.

Other problems could include the lack of battery status indication, accessibility issues, space parts, and so on.

Compare that with Gerry and Greg’s proposal for centralized emergency lighting, where full modularity allows custom specs for client conformance, straight-forward repairs and maintenance, and plug-n-play commissioning. The system design allows use with incandescent, fluorescent or LED lights at all standard industrial AC line voltages.


This article originally appeared in the May 2018 issue of Electrical Business Magazine.

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