Arc flash studies at one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies
Our American parent company needs to comply with around 40 mandatory safety standards (SNs),” explains the Installation Manager of the Veterinary Medicine division of one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies. “Standard SN23 concerning ‘electrical safety’ requires us to carry out arc flash studies.
The amount of work was daunting: the installation consists of two 6MW electrical substations with some 25 transformers and more than 400 main distributors and sub-distributors. Power connection are also part of the study.
“We were looking for a partner in the area of energy monitoring and power quality. That is how we came into contact with HyTEPS. We stopped working with a previous Arc Flash partner because they didn’t have a management environment for the studies. HyTEPS was able to offer us that.”
“Awareness around Arc Flash is more developed in the USA that in Europe,” explains Srivats Venkateswaran, Technical Engineer HyTEPS. “Everyone understand the importance of measurements. However, in the Netherlands, for example, the NEN 3140 standard specifies you should carry out Arc Flash calculations to determine risk. This isn’t mandatory, but if something bad happens, the inspectors will ask about compliance. Of course, arc flash studies are also important because, although arc flash events can’t be 100% prevented, the possible outcome of an arc flash is learnt – which helps in making correct decisions to reduce danger and damage. HyTEPS can use two different methodologies for AC and DC Arc Flash studies, based on European and American standards. Awareness around Arc Flashes in Europe is increasing but still seems to be limited to large companies.”
- Defining the required PPE level at each distribution board
- Pointing out unsafe distribution boards
- Recommendations for tackling unsafe locations
- Placement of Arc Flash labels with corresponding parameters
The installation was mapped out in detail and HyTEPS entered all the data into its modeling system. Problems were analyzed and solutions were soon recommended. These mainly involved changes to safety equipment, such as fuses ratings, or using circuit breakers instead of fuses. Arc Flash labels were created and PPE specified. Srivats: “It’s important to make sure employees understand what’s on the labels and why, to make the most of arc flash studies.”
We have increased the safety of the installation,” says the Installation manager. Arc Flash studies and advice from HyTEPS allowed us to prevent all kinds of problems: dangerous situations with very high potential energy release in the event of a fault, PPE that doesn’t offer enough protection, selectivity problems, overly long power cables… There is also less inconvenience for our production colleagues because a distributor does not have to be completely de-energized when we need to work on it. In addition to a safer working environment, carrying out arc flash tests also has financial benefits. Arc flash testing should always be part of the engineering process, just like cable calculations, for example. However, this is still not clear to everyone yet. The cooperation with HyTEPS has been excellent – and it remains so. For us, this is a long-term relationship.”.
“Cooperation is close,” explains Srivats. “We offer this client insights into models we’re developing so they can comment. Every time something new is added to their network, we are informed of the changes and carry out analyses. We can make calculations to check new design proposals, for example, and offer multiple solutions so they can choose the most suitable one. Every small change can be checked before execution – after all, even the smallest change can affect arc flash risk and invalidate the label. Certification needs to be continuously revised and updated!”
We have increased the safety of the installation. Arc Flash studies and advice from HyTEPS allowed us to prevent all kinds of problems: dangerous situations with very high potential energy release in the event of a fault, PPE that doesn’t offer enough protection, selectivity problems, overly long power cables…