Are you actually ready for the summer?
posted by: Jason Swann, Rittal
Everyone prepared for the summer? Holiday – booked; sun cream/travel insurance – bought; travel sickness pills for the kids – (oops) on the shopping list; fire alarm working – check; enclosure thermal survey – ...what?
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We all make careful provision (some of us make lists) ahead of the traditional summer holiday, but do we pay equal attention to ensuring that our critical electrical equipment will cope with a rise in temperature? Because high temperatures are the most common cause of sensitive electrical and electronic components tripping or even failing.
A failed electrical device can cause major disruption to production, and could cost your company tens or even hundreds of thousands of pounds per hour. The cost of catastrophic equipment failure is even higher, because it means an extended period of downtime while replacement products are sourced and fitted.
Electrical equipment generates a lot of heat. Add to this the ambient heat from the increasing summer temperatures and your enclosure will start to reach a critical point. Do you want to run the risk?
The cost of failure
Enclosures, and in particular enclosure climate control, may not be top of your busy priority list but have you ever wondered what you would do if the equipment that manages your production line - your PLCs, drives and controls - failed due to inadequate or inappropriate cooling?
Have you wondered how much might get spent and totted up the costs - both tangible and intangible? And how much the lifespan of this sensitive equipment is shortened with the consequent replacement cost? And, and, and…
To put the amount of heat produced by electrical devices into context, consider your inverter drives. More and more are being used within electrical equipment because they are very effective at reducing the amount of energy used – which means lower production costs.
Assuming an efficiency of 97 per cent, a 250kW drive can produce up to 7.5kW of heat, much of which is retained inside the enclosure in which it’s installed. In addition, life expectancy of components is also affected by excess heat. An electrical component’s life expectancy is reduced by 50 per cent for every 10°C increase in the ambient temperature.
Planning climate control
The first step in assisting you in the seemingly formidable task of evaluating your cooling requirements would be a thermal survey.
First, ask yourself some simple questions:
• Is your equipment tripping or failing due to high temperatures?
• Is this having an impact on production, in that it’s either slowing or stopping completely?
• When you walk around your shop floor, do your enclosures feel hot to the touch?
• At the height of summer, are your enclosure doors regularly left open and do you need large fans blowing into your panels to cool the devices inside them?
• Does inadequate chilling of process fluids result in production down-time?
• Would your existing cooling solution benefit from a health check?
If you answered yes to any of these questions then a survey could be just what you need.
Rittal’s expert team can provide you with a RiAssure3 survey and if necessary advise on the best solution.
A RiAssure3 survey will identify the likely risk of a system overheating. The survey will review any existing cooling solution and determine how suited it is to that particular working environment. If necessary, it will then provide recommendations around remedial action – for example, changes to the system’s service and maintenance regime to help improve its efficiency or the recommendation to invest in different climate control technology.
Our engineers will always offer their advice from the perspective of functionality, energy efficiency, ease of installation, service and maintenance, based on real-life data measured on site.
Protecting control and automation equipment
Your decision as to which cooling solution you choose ultimately depends on the amount of heat produced inside the panel and the environment in which it’s installed. Your choice, in other words, must be specific to your particular application.
The main consideration is whether the panel is located in a cold or hot environment and if that environment is clean or dirty. It would be nice, actually, if the answers were as black and white as these questions suggest! Locations typically fall somewhere in between. Conditions may also change over the course of the working day, week, month or year, so the final selection of an appropriate cooling solution may not be entirely straightforward.
Enclosures which are placed in a cool and clean environment may find fan-and-filter units are adequate, given a single device provides more than 4 kW of cooling in ideal conditions.
If the air is dirty, it is still possible to take full advantage of low ambient temperatures by using energy efficient air-to-air heat exchangers to provide any necessary cooling.
For applications that require the temperature inside the enclosure to be lower than that outside it, a refrigerant based solution may be the best option.
The new Blue e+ cooling unit range from Rittal, with capacities up to 6kW, can operate in ambient temperatures up to 60°C yet also provide free cooling when the external air is cooler due to the innovative use of hybrid technology.
Air-to-water heat exchangers may be used in even hotter conditions and the water delivered to a remote location in which the heat, up to 10kW from one unit, may be dissipated more effectively and with less effect on the temperature of the surroundings.
So, with all this sorted, you just need to check your passport is still in-date….
For more information and advice on cooling: contact 01709 704 000 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. For advice about your summer holiday: contact your travel agent.
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