The Industrial Machine Shop project involved designing the lighting and power system of an old building. In this project, I was the senior electrical engineer and my role was to prepare, manage and coordinate all technical activities related to the design and installation of a new electrical system in the building. In this career episode, I summarize the valuable experience I gained from the project.
The project involved designing and developing a 3 phase electrical system on an industrial machine shop. The building was very old and had just been bought by a new owner. As such, it was necessary for me to do an on-job site investigation to assess the status of the current electrical system and determine the best ways of initiating the new project. I consulted the building owner and advised them of the need to redesign the lighting and power layout of the building. This was because most of the cables used were below the Allowable Wiring Gauge (AWG). In addition, most of the protective device was below its capacity.
The project owner agreed with major issues including the cost of the project, which enabled me to proceed with calculations about the total building load. In particular, I determined the actual number of branch circuits required and service, entrance size along with feeders, panelboards and service entrance equipment. Since I was knowledgeable in machine foundation, there was no need to hire a mechanical engineer to determine the size of the motor foundation. Overall, I designed the project very professionally, making sure that everything worked out as envisioned in the project outline.
I developed an electrical plan sample complete with the switch and lights layout. Since initial investigations had revealed that the cables used were below the allowable wiring gauge, I took an initiative to ensure that the entire system was overhauled for a completely new one. I used High Breaking Capacity fuses for all motor starting circuits and other industrial installation associated with this project. A key benefit of using this type of fuses is that they distinguish between a short circuit and a starting surge. They are specially designed such that they can disconnect instances of short circuiting much more rapidly than any other protective electric device.
I recommended the use of bus-bars in this projects three phase power. From these bus-bars, individual connections were brought out to individual loads and through system cables. I connected the 3-phase power from the utilities to the main breaker using a 3-phase energy breaker. The power given out from the main breaker was then distributed to the various bus-bars. This part of the project also included making arrangements about the display of various parameters such as voltage, current, power and energy distribution from the main distribution to the various heavy machineries and equipment that could be used in this industrial facility.
To ensure optimal loading for each subsystem, I had to determine the number of outlets for each branch circuit. Owing to the specific requirements of this project, the number of outlets was determined along with their location in the building. To maximize energy efficiency, illumination levels were also calculated and lighting fixtures selected appropriately to provide the required levels of illumination for the building. I made sure that the lighting method used complied with the appropriate standards including the latest edition of the Philippine Electrical Code (PEC) and requirements enforced by the Local Jurisdiction.
I used a three pole breaker with the right current ratings to connect three-phase motors. Proper care was taken while connecting the 3-phase wires to the motor to ensure that the direction of rotation is not reversed by shifting the direction of any of the three wires in the 3 phase system. I also used a contractor with maximum load contracts that could be critical in handling large amounts of current. The overload relay was used to protect the buildings overload condition by way of disconnecting power from the contractor coil. Instead of relying on the power values of different equipments, cable sizing or ratings of circuit breakers, I gave an outline on how optimal loading can be achieved without violating the power levels of any device or equipment.
I made sure that all industrial socket outlets were installed at the required locations. The PVC conduit was laid from the distribution board to the receptacle position. Each conduit was embedded into the buildings wall structure or allowed to lie outside. I also used switch boxes and GI conduits to protect cables from any form of physical damage.
I used the Philippine Electrical Code (PEC) to determine optimal levels of illumination for the building. PEC is derived from the International Energy Conservation Code regarding illumination levels. In my calculation, I determined optimal illumination as the amount of power used in lighting per unit area of the building. In the Philippines, this is measured in watts of energy per square foot. I included all power consumed by ballasts, transformers, light fixtures, and controls. I used the space-by-space method to calculate the illumination requirements of each specific room.
Overall, I planned the project well and took the necessary steps to ensure that everything worked out according to the initial plan. The project was completed in May 1999, which was well within the stipulated time frame. The quality of the project was beyond reproach, which has enabled me to make more leads in electrical installations for industrial and residential establishments. I greatly applied the knowledge I had learned in college that the three phase power distribution to industrial establishments is necessary because most load requirements are difficult to be handled by a single phase. For efficiency, the use of three-phase power depends greatly on balancing the power load distribution on each phase.
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