2 Simple Ways to Protect from Arc Flash Hazards

If you are a manager at any level of a manufacturing facility, I hope you are aware of the dangers of arc flash.  For those who are not aware, “an arc flash, also called arc blast or arc fault is a type of electrical explosion that results from a low-impedance connection to ground or another voltage phase in an electrical system.”  Typically this does not occur in 120V situations, but can occur in 480V+ installations if proper precautions are not taken.  Employees can be severely injured or even killed when an accident occurs while working with these kinds of electrical systems.   There are many standards  like OSHA, IEEE and NFPA that regulate these types of situations to provide a safe working environment for the employee.  In addition to those standards, I would propose two simple changes to controls architecture and design to help limit the exposure to working inside an electrical cabinet.

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Machine Mount I/O: Get out of the Cabinet

In April, Jim Montague of Control Design wrote an interesting article on Machine Mount I/O entitled “Machine-Mount I/O Go Everywhere.”  I think the article makes some very good points as to the value of why someone wants to move from inside an enclosure, or controls cabinet, to mounting I/O products directly on the machine.

He summarizes, with the help of a number of industry experts, the below points:

  • Same or Better control performance out of IP67 products versus IP20 products.  
    • Installation time alone “is reduced by a factor of 5 to 10″
    • Assemble more controls equipment faster with the same people & workspace
  • Smaller & Simpler components take up less real-estate on the machine
    • Smaller Controls cabinets are needed
    • Less terminations required 2 versus “4 or more” for one connection
    • standard & simple quick disconnect i/o and network cables
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Defining IP Ratings and NEMA Ratings

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As I was preparing to write my blog entry, I was browsing my e-mail and came across an article in the October Issue of TIA Newsletter (Totally Integrated Automation) from Automation World, concerning IP Ratings.  I found the article , very informative as it broke down the different degrees of IP ratings, as well as some similarity and differences between IP ratings and NEMA ratings.  I only wish there was some information involving IP69K. 

This article, IP Ratings – What are they and what do they mean,  is a great starting point to learn about IP Ratings, I suggest you stop by and read it. 

For more information about IP67, check out The Secret of IP67 Protection.

One M12 Port = Endless Possibilities

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Paradigm shifts in automation are always occurring. The need for cost savings and higher diagnostics caused the shift from IP20 I/O to IP67 I/O.  Now, we are in the midst of a shift to reduce or eliminate enclosures in industrial applications by removing control and power from the cabinet.  With the reduction of IP20 I/O and enclosures, adding more I/O (discrete and analog) or specialty devices (RF identification, measurement devices, etc…) is now more difficult.  In the past it was relatively easy, but expensive, to add another “slice” of I/O to an existing IP20 solution.

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Get Rid of Remote I/O Cabinets Once and For All

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Every time I travel, customers tell me, “we just wire everything into a box.”  Every equipment designer goes through a phase of their design process where they need to decide how their I/O gets from their sensors and their valves to their controller.  Some people use I/O cards on their PLC, or networks with IP20 solutions inside remote I/O cabinets.

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The Secret of IP67 Protection

Over the last year I have been discussing IP rated products with people in various positions  in the manufacturing world and I have encountered some false assumptions about IP67 protection.  I want to quickly go over what an IP67 test actually is and then go into the assumptions I’ve seen.

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