Understanding Home and Public Electric Vehicle Charging Stations

Charging electric vehicles is quite a change from the more traditional method of filling up on gas. With networks of public charging stations and home installed private charging stations available, we’ll take a look at the differences and how to utilize both.

While the number of available public electric vehicle charging stations is growing, over 90% of car charging is actually done at home. Home charging provides a certainty in terms of a reliable location to charge, even allowing users to charge their cars overnight.  There are several ways to charge at home – one option is to simply plug into a standard three-prong 120-volt electrical outlet. Since electric vehicles have what’s called an “onboard charger” built-in, it’s necessary to use the charging cord that comes with the vehicle to connect to a source of electricity.

EVSE Charging Stations

Plugging into a standard 120-volt wall outlet will not provide the quickest charge. Charging via this method typically adds about 4 miles of charge or driving range per one hour of charging time. To get a faster charge, most people will seek out a home EVSE, or “Electric Vehicle Service Equipment” solution.

An EVSE is any device that brings AC power to a car, where it is turned into DC power, filling the car’s battery using the onboard charger.

Because electric cars from respective manufacturers are built with various battery sizes and power applications, the maximum charging capacity and charging speed can differ.

Model Max Charge Miles added per hour Electric or Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV)
Audi A3 e-tron 3.3 kW 11 PHEV
BMW i3 7.4 kW 25 100% Electric / REx
Cadillac ELR 3.3 kW 11 PHEV
Chevy Spark EV 3.3 kW 11 100% Electric
Chevy Volt 3.3 kW 11 PHEV
Fiat 500e 6.6 kW 22 100% Electric
Ford C-Max Energi 3.3 kW 11 PHEV
Ford Fusion Energi 3.3 kW 11 PHEV
Ford Focus Electric 6.6 kW 22 100% Electric
Honda Accord Plug-In Hybrid 6.6 kW 22 PHEV
Hyundai Sonata Plug-in Hybrid 3.3 kW 11 PHEV
Kia Soul EV 6.6 kW 22 100% Electric
Mercedes B-Class Electric 10 kW 29 100% Electric
Mercedes S550 Plug-in Hybrid 3.3 kW 11 PHEV
Mercedes C350 Plug-in Hybrid 3.3 kW 11 PHEV
Mitsubishi i-MiEV 3.3 kW 11 100% Electric
Nissan LEAF 3.3 kW / 6.6 kW 11 / 22 100% Electric
Porsche Cayenne S E-Hybrid 3.6 kW / 7.2 kW 12 / 24 PHEV
Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid 3 kW 10 PHEV
Smart Electric Drive 3.3 kW 11 100% Electric
Tesla Model S 10 kW / 20 kW 29 / 58 100% Electric
Tesla Model X 10 kW / 20 kW 29 / 58 100% Electric
Toyota Prius Plug-In 3.3 kW 11 PHEV
Volkswagen e-Golf 3.6 kW / 7.2 kW 12 / 24 100% Electric

Public Charging Stations – Locations and Rates

While charging stations are available in several locations such as shopping centers and office buildings, they may not stand out. For this reason it may be necessary to find a website or app to help locate EV charging stations. Note that public charging stations can vary – some may be free, but others are not. Some charge cars faster than others and some cars need different types of charging ports.

There are several electric vehicle charging stations available including those offered by ChargePoint and Schneider Electric. Generally speaking, to use different charging station networks, a card is needed. These cards are relatively easy to acquire; simply find a charging network’s website and register for an account.

Rates vary – there may be rates based on hourly use, session use, monthly use or annual rates. Many public charging stations, however, are free.

Rates vary for each charging station.

Charger Levels

One important factor to consider is the rate of charging can differ depending on the battery’s current charge level. For instance, the closer the battery is to empty, the quicker the flow of electricity is. As it fills, the rate slows – this is known as “tapering”, and it is noticeable around the 50% mark of a charge. The closer a charge is to 100% or fully charged, the slower charging will continue due to tapering. For this reason, many manufacturers recommend a fill to 80% as the most ideal – in fact, many public charging stations cut off charging at 80% as well.

There are different levels of car chargers –Level 1 is 120V, Level 2 is 240V and Level 3 is 480V.

  • Level 1 charging simply requires plugging the car into an ordinary 120-volt electrical outlet with the vehicle’s included cord. This option takes about 22 hours for a full charge.
  • Level 2 charging supplies 240V, about what an electric dryer or oven uses.
  • Both Level 1 and Level 2 charging stations deliver household electricity to the vehicle.

Level 1 and level 2 chargers have the same plug configuration called a J1172/SAE and Level 3 has a CHAdeMO plug. Level 2 chargers are the most common type used at home or public facilities. Level 3 chargers are known as DC fast chargers and are faster than level 2. They aren’t technically called “level 3” chargers since level 1 and level 2 chargers provide AC electricity to a vehicle via the onboard charger while these faster chargers bypass the onboard charger and provide DC electricity to the battery via a special charging port. Since Tesla Supercharging is much faster than “level 3” charging, it can be considered “level 4” charging. Level 3 is not compatible with all electric vehicles, and level 4 is the most restrictive in terms of how many different types of electric vehicles can be charged using a level 4 charger. Level 3 and 4 chargers are scarce – most public chargers are level 2.

For more information on electric vehicle charging stations and networks, call to speak with one of our application consultants at 1-800-STEINER (783-4637).

How To Use Social Media to Benefit Your Company

June 30th is Social Media Day. In honor of the special occasion we will reflect on some interesting and successful social campaigns being implemented across popular social channels by three different brands. The following campaigns provide great examples of effective uses of social media (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube) any company can beneficially emulate to drive customer engagement.

CARHARTT 

Carhartt has campaigns across Facebook and Twitter that allow interactivity for fans and followers – for example, hashtag contests like #OutWorkThemAll encourage users to share photos of themselves working on tough projects while wearing Carhartt gear.

carhartoutworkthemall

Carhartt engineers consistency across Twitter and Facebook, with many similar campaign attributes being utilized in both networks. Hashtag campaigns like #OutWorkThemAll thrive cross-network, sharing photos of customers and products, providing Carhartt with a cost-effective grassroots promotional product campaign.

Carhartt also actively posts several videos and playlists on YouTube – one of which is the helpful “Do-It-Yourself” series of videos. These instructional videos provide customers with an easy guide of how to use products or how to complete tasks. They help answer customers’ questions giving Carhartt a practical extension to their customer service operations.

diy carhartt

KOHLER

Kohler too promotes their individual campaigns across multiple social media networks. For instance, the #HurricaneStrong campaign is run across Twitter and Facebook. This hashtag campaign is dedicated to preparing for power outages caused by Hurricane storms.

hurricaneprep

Kohler also tweets about timely events, tying into their brand. For instance, how they partnered with another company to help with the Flint Water Crisis. An organization or brand that posts content in relation to current events allows followers on social media to see real-world examples of how brands can affect or have a positive impact in responding to a current crisis.

Kohler additionally provides up-to-date information on details from trade shows and other events that they attend. This allows users to find an event they may be interested in attending to learn more about industry-related topics pertinent to their business.

flint

Kohler further has an active YouTube channel used to showcase their products and technology. From videos on the manufacturing of Kohler Generators to the importance of backup power generators for both homes and businesses, there are several reasons for users to view the Kohler YouTube channel.

Audiences can find value in Kohler videos for a multitude of reasons – perhaps they want to see a step-by-step guided process or learn how to undertake a task. Some videos can help teach processes, while other videos may show future technology and upcoming product releases, providing sneak previews of next generation innovations.


PHILIPS LIGHTING

Photos of Philips lights and lamps used for illuminating the exterior of buildings around the world are displayed on Twitter. Philips’ Twitter account shares colorful lighting photos that showcase the latest innovations from the lighting industry. Philips also shares articles from magazines, promoting stories that feature Philips products and services. Sharing these publications gives Philips positive recognition from third-party trusted sources.

Philips Lighting’s Facebook page contains contests, such as a chance to win Philips and Star Wars lights by simply telling them what makes your child a Star Wars fan. Philips also shares images of LED lights in use, such as in the Amsterdam Arena. Similar to Kohler, Philips utilizes current events to advantageously position their brand.

philips facebook led

facebook philips

With several videos, from “How To” demonstrations to featured products, there are numerous choices available for viewing on the Philips YouTube channel. The “How To” videos provide guidance, while the featured products showcase the range of innovative products that Philips Lighting offers.

As a worldwide company Philips also localizes their videos by translating them into several languages catering to the copious local markets they serve, which means you’ll find many Philips videos offered in multiple languages.

Philips additionally shares invitations for seminars and webinars through LinkedIn, encouraging more participation from readers and followers. The free seminars offer pertinent information on relevant and timely industry topics providing continuing education on practical applications of the latest trends.

Posting a variety of useful and timely content on social media networks – from current event related information on community outreach initiatives – to featuring new products – to event invitations – to contests – provides information that is helpful and engaging to your target audience. Having customers continually return to engage with your brand underscores the importance of utilizing social media to capture mindshare that ultimately leads to market share.

Additionally, another benefit of being active on social media is interaction – not only with customers but with other companies that are also present and active on social media. This allows for the potential of cross-promoting each other to audiences, sharing to each customer base, as well as creating the opportunity for building a working relationship between the two (or more) interacting companies.

There are countless strategies and uses for social media that any company can benefit in, but even simply being active and maintaining a presence online (answering customer feedback or questions) is advantageous to any brand. In this digital age, more customers and prospective customers flock to the internet to learn more about a company, or to just find a brand for their particular interest or need, therefore it is absolutely essential to be ready and represented online.

Machine Safety and the Integration of Pneumatic Technology

Why do we need Safety Standards? For years, standards and safety have been developed and adjusted as time went on. Everyone at some point is careless, complacent, overconfident, distracted or fatigued. We sometimes take risks or misunderstand things. Because all of these human traits are ingrained in all of us, we need to make sure machines are safe and ready for use – which means we also need to consider processes which govern how we utilize machines in order to prevent accidents and injury.[i]

With the increasing use of automation, the requirements governing protection of machinery have changed and evolved. Technology advancements have allowed for the integration of protection devices into the work process, thus improving safety and productivity.

Safety is a basic need – the objective for safety equipment  and safety standards is to provide the machine operator, personnel and others a safe environment when working with machinery. Managers are responsible for the safety of their employees. Most accidents are due to human error, which is why safety procedures need to start at the executive level and be adopted throughout the entire organization.[i]

In this article we’ll cover safety functions of Pneumatic technology, as covered by ASCO at Steiner’s 2016 Automation Technology Summer Symposium.

Risk Assessment

The first steps are taken by the machine operator and OEM to analyze the possible risks that are associated with the design of a machine. The risk assessment and analysis gives information that is required for the risk evaluation. This allows the operator or OEM to determine ultimately whether or not a risk reduction is required.[ii]

The process of risk reduction allows for the OEM to eliminate the potential risk that is found in the assessment. If the areas of risk cannot be eliminated, they are to be addressed with safety-related components.

A risk graph provides guidance when looking at the safety risk and safety function. The graph should be considered for each Safety Function identified as part of the risk assessment and risk reduction process.

Risk Graph
Risk Graph

Safety System Architectures and Categories

There are three architectures of elements – The Input Element, the Logic element and the Output element. The Input element includes Gate Switches and Light Curtains; the Logic element includes Safety PLC and Safety Relays and the Output element includes valves and motors.[ii]

There are four categories – Category 1, Category 2, Category 3 and Category 4. Category 1 systems rely on reliability data of components or well-tried components. With Category 1 there is no diagnostic monitoring.

Category 2 systems rely on Category 1 data plus feedback monitoring and periodic testing of safety functions. Category 3 systems rely on Category 2 data plus redundancy. In Category 3 safety systems, most faults are detected. Category 4 systems rely on Category 3 data plus greater diagnostic monitoring – in which all faults are detected.[ii]

Safety System Categories
Safety System Categories

Methods of Pneumatic Implementation

There are three main methods of satisfying a pneumatic Safety Function, including: Discrete components, Point-of-use “Dump” style units, and Manifolds with integrated Safety Functionality.[ii]

Discrete components have individual valves and pressure switches. Switches are limited to a single motion and can be used for multiple motion elements or actuators. These discrete components can be adapted to various pneumatic safety functions. Discrete pneumatic components are best used on single axis or individual motion elements in order to satisfy a pneumatic safety function. The pneumatic components are considered Safety Related Parts of a Control System.

Point of use “Dump” style units are individual assemblies that are made of redundant units to provide safe release of energy in the form of air. These are best used on Lock-Out Tag-Out (LOTO) applications. These type of units can be used to release or “Dump” the pneumatic energy to a gated machine in most instances.[ii]

Finally, manifolds with integrated safety functionality are manifolds that have the ability to satisfy many pneumatic safety functions while providing that function for multiple motion elements, or actuators. These Manifolds are best applied for the following:

  • Multiple axis of motion (actuators)
  • Requires Safe and Non-Safe Valves or motion
  • Requires additional pneumatic features such as regulation, speed control or circuit manipulation
  • Requires different safety functions on the same manifold
  • Requires a Fieldbus interface

Further Considerations

  • Safety functions are defined by the Risk Assessment or Reduction Process.
  • Machine Safety is a systematic approach
  • A Pneumatic safety function doesn’t always need to trap energy – there is a safe stopping of motion and a safe return to the home position
  • Indirect monitoring or pressure sensing, can provide the highest level of direct current

Protective devices should be integrated into the control system. Control systems are made of input elements, logic units and power control elements in addition to the actuator or work element. Safety-related parts of the control system should safely perform normal functions. Because of this, special requirements are placed on their reliability and resistance to failures. Safety standards and devices allow for an increase in the attempt to prevent injury. Because all humans can be careless, forgetful or distracted, it is important to implement and follow standards and procedures.

For more information on automation safety and to speak with one of our application engineers please call 1-800-STEINER (783-4637).

[i] Guidelines for Safe Machinery – Six Steps to a Safe Machine. N.p.: SICK Sensor Intelligence, n.d. PDF.

[ii] Machine Safety and the Integration of Pneumatic Technology. N.p.: ASCO Emerson, 2016. PPT.

Retrofitting Street Lighting with Energy Efficient LED Lamps Reduces Costs

Now that the weather is warming up, it is the ideal time to upgrade to the latest energy-saving outdoor lighting technology. With the upcoming autumn season comes reduced sunlight. Because of this, street lights are on overtime throughout the fall and winter seasons.

Cities should start inspecting or optimizing their lighting before the fall hits. While maintaining and changing lamps, it’s the perfect time to assess new lighting system options. For instance, poles may need to be replaced as well as fixtures to more energy efficient LEDs.

Cobra Head OLD streetlight Lighting fixture
Typical existing HPS/MH Cobra Head

Energy Efficient Lighting Reduces Carbon Footprint

Many local streetlights today have fixtures that are about 25 years old and may perhaps be in dire need of an upgrade that can save cities money through the installation of more energy efficient lighting systems. More and more people are moving into cities, continuing the ever-increasing growth of urban areas across the country. This population boom causes a city’s carbon footprint to rapidly grow along with it. Switching from High Pressure Sodium  or Metal Halide to LED lighting solutions can help mitigate the production of environmentally harmful carbon byproducts brought about by exponential population expansion.

As cities continue to develop they will be required to provide long-term livability solutions through infrastructural changes. LED lighting is the next evolutionary technology for cities to adopt moving into the future. Many cities, including Chicago, already have started plans on installing LED lighting systems.

LED StreetLight Fixture
LED Street Lighting fixture

Over 25 million streetlights in the US consume 40% of cities’ electricity use, equal to 2 million households each year with CO2 emissions equal to 2.6 million cars. Changing all US outdoor lighting to LEDs could prevent the emission of as much as 90 million metric tons of CO2.

Why LED Lighting Systems

Why is LED Lighting so attractive? LEDs have significantly decreased operating costs and simultaneously increased the lifespan and efficiency of the fixture. Making lighting more energy efficient is known as lighting retrofitting. Although switching to LED lighting alone can result in 50-70% energy savings, it is not sufficient enough to meet global targets for savings and sustainability.

Adaptive and inter-operable lighting is essential to bring cost and performance improvements to a next level of significance. Enabling LEDs to dynamically change lighting levels in response to local conditions can generate total system energy savings of up to 80%. These responsive or “Intelligent” sensor lighting systems allow for lighting to be activated only by motion, saving money and improving efficiency.

To learn more about energy efficient lighting solutions or to speak with an experienced lighting application consultant about an Energy Audit call 1-800-STEINER (783-4637).

For 100 Years

2016 marks the 100th anniversary of Steiner Electric Company. Our fourth generation, original family owned and operated, company is very grateful for the many opportunities to serve our customers and the communities of our nine locations. For 100 years Steiner has continually evolved to meet the changing needs of our customers, suppliers and employees through technology, innovation and a culture of “helping our customer be the very best for their customers”.

George S Steiner
George S. Steiner (seated left)

Since George S. Steiner (left) founded our company in 1916 we have helped our customers grow their business by not only providing perhaps the largest inventory of electrical supplies in northern Illinois, but the product knowledge, application support and systems to save time and reduce operational expenses. We focused on expanding our core competencies with diversified but complementary products and services. There are five major divisions with the structure and teams to meet or exceed our customers’ expectations.

  1. Electrical Supplies
  2. Lighting & Control
  3. Generator Sales, Service and Rental
  4. Automation Products & Controls
  5. Metalworking & Industrial Supplies

The five bands within our 100th anniversary logo create a pathway from 1916 to 2016 corresponding to our five core competencies. The two rings are linked to show our interconnectedness from our past to our future. We gratefully acknowledge and learn from our history, whose foundation was built by our past customers, employees and suppliers. We embrace the future and the changes required to stay the course to creatively earn opportunities for future generations.

Steiner 100 Years

Thank you very much

Richard Kerman
President & CEO
Steiner Electric Company

CribTrack Industrial Vending Machine Makes Inventory Management Affordable

What is CribTrack?

CribTrack is a new industrial vending solution with an evolutionary dispensing system that simplifies inventory management. Industrial items, MRO supplies, office supplies and many other consumable or reusable items can be stored and tracked through the user-friendly inventory scanner. CribTrack offers businesses a more secure, flexible, simple and affordable alternative to other industrial vending machines built on complicated machine architectures that are difficult and expensive to maintain.

CribTrack industrial storage solution offers abundant space for managing inventory with up to 200 storage bins. The supply bins are held in place by magnets, providing the flexibility to rearrange items quickly and help keep inventory organized. With its sleek design and noteworthy mobility, CribTrack can also be used in almost any indoor environment to store safety equipment, chemicals, batteries, power tools and more.

CribTrack comes with software run on a locally stored server hard drive concealed within the machine that securely backs up all data to the cloud. An included Wi-Fi router offers the flexibility to connect to a company network either hardwired via an Ethernet port or wirelessly via a Wi-Fi network.

CribTrack is also equipped with four built-in cameras that record each transaction, all of which can be reviewed on-demand.

Who Can Use It?

Any company can use CribTrack. Because just about any type of item can be stored, CribTrack is the ideal industrial storage solution for several locations and environments, including:

  • Manufacturing/industrial – drills, end mills, inserts or abrasives.
  • Restaurants – ingredients, spices or meats.
  • Hospitals – gloves, tubes, medications or scrubs.
  • Schools – cleaning supplies, lab equipment or office supplies.
  • Offices – supplies, IT equipment or printer supplies.
  • And many other applications…
About CribTrack
CribTrack Industrial Vending Machine

What’s different over other industrial vending machines?

CribTrack is different than any other industrial vending machines – It is designed to be simple, smart and secure. For example, it offers the benefit of multiple access options. To access inventory there are three built-in methods: a user assigned touchpad PIN, RF PROX card/key fob (HID, I-HID option available), and biometric fingerprint scanner. Once access is granted, an item can be ‘checked out’ by simply scanning the associated barcode. Returning an item is just as simple; scan a special built-in return barcode and follow the prompts listed on the interior 10-inch monitor.

CribTrack Authentication Pad
Enter pincode, use the PROX card or use your fingerprint to unlock the machine.

Another benefit that separates CribTrack from other inventory management machines is the 3-year warranty – a lot of the mechanical aspects of a traditional vending machine have been eliminated to produce a remarkably reliable platform. By simplifying the machine CribTrack offers a quicker method of retrieving items – other machines take longer to enter information for procuring an item, but with CribTrack, the average time it takes to complete a transaction is 15 seconds.

While other machines are inaccessible only allowing items to be dispensed by the machine itself, or dropped down like snack vending machines, CribTrack can be opened, allowing a user to inspect an item before procuring it. To manage inventory securely CribTrack provides a log of who took or returned an item from the machine. The cameras ensure the proper procedure is followed throughout the process. Because there are four cameras, all activities are recorded from several different angles and subsequently viewable on demand.

CribTrack is the perfect solution for any organization with a need for industrial vending and inventory management. It is flexible, easy-to-use, simple to manage, reliable, and economical. CribTrack allows organizations to take advantage of cost savings attained through better inventory management, accountability, and trace-ability.  For more information on CribTrack please visit www.cribtrack.com or call 1-844-744-CRIB (2742) to speak with an experienced application consultant.

 

Use OEE to Increase Machine Productivity through Data Driven Manufacturing

The innovations coming to the manufacturing world may not be brand new, but for many machine shops these evolutionary innovations, such as OEE (Operational Equipment Effectiveness) are still in the early adopter stage. “Lean Six Sigma” is one of the newer buzzwords being more frequently mentioned. The concept has been around for many years and its principles shared under a multitude of titles. For instance, this methodology has been called JIT, TQM (Total Quality Maintenance) and Kaizen to name a few.

Measure Efficiency
Measure Efficiency in Manufacturing

Regardless of the vernacular used, overall, the meaning is the same. All of these terms describe the Standardization of processes and procedures to increase efficiency and bring more IFO (Income From Operations) to the company bottom line. In other words, what these programs can offer, is the ability to measure the effectiveness of a procedure, and evaluate any waste from Time, Inventory, Motion, Waiting, Over production, Over processing, Defects, and Skills.

These concepts have been around for a while but quite frankly not implemented effectively in many organizations outside of the enterprise level. Major corporations such as Toyota, Motorola, Ford, Chrysler and others in the Automotive, Medical, and Aerospace sectors have utilized these initiatives as a source of greater profit and efficiency for decades. It is now imperative for smaller and medium sized organizations to also adopt these strategies due to the competitive nature and flattening of the global economy.

Eliminate Waste

The idea of eliminating waste is not just a mindset for employees themselves to generate optimal efficiency, but it’s an ideology that crosses over to machines as well. It is beneficial for machines to be monitored, to ensure they are running correctly and producing efficiently. The evolution of software and hardware that interfaces with machine tools whether they be CNC or Manual PLC based machinery has started gaining heavy traction in the manufacturing industry. Measuring efficiency and capacity in real-time so reactive measures can be deployed quickly is the goal all organizations are trying to achieve in order to increase overall profitability.

Getting rid of Muda (Wastefulness) needs to be the goal moving forward for smaller to medium shops. Waste creates constraints leading to profit losses, poor delivery, poor quality, and lower machine efficiency. Smaller companies have less cash flow to absorb these inefficiencies thus making it crucial to have the data to manage constraints in real-time.

Data Driven Manufacturing

Data Driven Manufacturing is another new buzzword that is an important concept to consider.  Look at the sports world and all the analytics that are now used to determine how managers and coaches react to situational events in a game. Watch the movie “Money Ball” – the sports industry laughed and scoffed at Billy Bean who was the pioneer in using analytics to build a baseball team. The team the movie was based on, however, achieved one of the longest winning streaks ever in Major League Baseball. Fast forward to today and making data driven decisions is a practice used by most organizations. Using that same philosophy in manufacturing by capturing data in real-time to optimize efficiency and productivity can have a profound impact on increasing IFO.

OEE (Operational Equipment Effectiveness)

OEE (Operational Equipment Effectiveness) is a Six Sigma Concept that is gaining traction in the industrial industry and one of the most important pieces of data that can be mined to affect IFO.

OEE is made up of measuring three key components: Availability, Performance, and Quality.

An overall OEE score of 85% is considered world class. When initially installing its software to measure these three components in real-time at customer facilities Steiner has found most machines are under optimized and operating in the 30-40% range.

Availability, Quality & Performance, the key components of OEE.

Now thinking about that a little more deeply, if a machine tool – which is the money maker in all manufacturing facilities – is only utilizing 35% of actual capacity available, then it is not running on all cylinders. Before purchasing a new machine tool, manufacturers should ensure existing equipment is being utilized at its maximum output capacity, thereby potentially avoiding the need to make a large capital investment. Steiner deploys a software solution that has solved this operational inefficiency problem for all machines in the industry, whether it be new CNC or older legacy CNC equipment.

The software solution can also extract this vital data from Stamping Equipment, Injection Molding Equipment, Screw Machine Equipment, and many other computerized and manually operated machines in the metal working industry. Steiner currently has installs optimizing many of these types of machines and can bring the technology to any manufacturing organization.  Steiner application consultants can provide education and insights on the technology to help manufacturers better understand this innovative new data driven reporting. For more information about the software solution, please email or call 847-956-3125 to speak with a seasoned Steiner application expert.

 

Attend the Proactive Maintenance with Fluke Infrared Thermography and Power Quality / Energy Analyzers Workshop

Proactive Maintenance with Fluke Infrared Thermography and Power Quality Energy Analyzers Workshop

Attend this FREE workshop presented by Fluke to improve uptime and reliability of electro-mechanical equipment!

What you will learn:

  • Maintenance applications of thermal imaging & power quality analyzers
  • How thermal imaging & power/energy studies aid in diagnosing problems
  • Tips to set up a successful maintenance program employing these tools
  • How to select the right thermal imager & power quality tool for your work

What’s included:

  • Four hours of instruction with a Fluke product specialist
  • Demonstrations of thermal imagers and power quality loggers & analyzers
  • Completion certificate

Who should attend:

  • Plant electricians
  • Electrical contractors
  • Facilities maintenance managers
  • Operations & manufacturing managers
  • Reliability professionals
  • Maintenance professionals
  • Service professionals

Dates, Time and Locations:

Choose from one of the following dates and locations.

  • Wednesday, June 29, 2016
  • Thursday, June 30, 2016
    • Steiner Electric – Rockford
    • 8:00am – 12:00pm

Registration

  • Free
  • Continental Breakfast served from 7:15am – 8:00am
Registration for this event is now closed.

Applications of Switchgear and Switchboards

switchgear vs switchboard

The terms “switchboard” and “switchgear” are interchangeable to engineers and architects. While they are in fact, interchangeable, they do both have distinct differences that are worth noting. These differences include configurations, components, reliability, standards and applications.

One of the major differences between switchboards and switchgear is the type of breakers that are used. The basic types are sealed, semi-open and open types. Specifically, these are called molded case, insulated case and power circuit breakers.

Molded case circuit breakers (MCCBs) are often used in all types of low-voltage switchboards and panelboards. These breakers can be found in ratings from 15 amps to 3,000 amps.

SQD JDL36200
Molded Case Circuit Breaker – MCCB

The breaker mechanism is sealed inside of the external molded case. If the breaker has a failure then it is to be replaced. These breakers are typically bolted onto the bus, or may have plug-in designs. The removal or addition of MCCBs to a switchboard must ONLY occur when the switchboard is turned off.

Power circuit breakers have ratings that range from 800 amps to 5,000 amps. PCBs are tested with different standards from MCCBs or ICCBs. They are attached to the bus in a drawout design, which allows the breakers to be withdrawn partially or fully while the entire switchgear is powered on. They have various components that are inspected and replaced. These components include arc chutes, contacts and pole assemblies.

To understand the differences between Switchboards and Switchgear, we will need to look at several variable considerations – Maintainability, Economics, System Coordination, Size and Project Application.

(Note: this article will cover circuit breaker type switchboards as compared to switchgear, and though some engineers may have a preference for fusible switchboards, this would get into fuses vs. circuit breakers, a topic for another discussion)

MAINTAINABILITY

Switchgear has the type of maintainable steel frame breakers which you are able to draw out. Switchgear also has mechanisms that draw out or rack out on racking arms. The main reason to use switchgear over switchboards is due to the ease of maintenance. Switchgear is more maintainable – this is due to the breakers that are used. Air circuit breakers are used in switchgear and insulated or molded case breakers are used in switchboards.

Switchgear incorporates low voltage power circuit breakers – abbreviated to LVPCB. Steel framed LVPCB’s have heavy-duty metal frames that are designed for ease of maintenance.

On the other hand, plastic-enclosed breakers must be disassembled to access the operating mechanisms, which makes it more complicated to maintain. In addition to this, plastic-enclosed breakers – if not requiring disassembling, would need to be unsealed to get to the internal components.

ECONOMICS

As in other applications, the economics are an important area to focus on. In many instances the initial factor that a potential customer or buyer reviews is the installed cost.

Group mounted switchboards tend to be less costly, while the individually mounted switchboards are about 15 to 50% more than group mounted switchboards. This all depends on the number and type of devices that are required. Typically, you will find that switchgear is more expensive than individually mounted switchboards.

SYSTEM COORDINATION

LVPCB’s don’t need an instantaneous trip function to be built in. Main and feeder breakers, likewise can be built without the instantaneous trip function.

Without it, main, feeders and other downstream devices are able to be more freely coordinated. Switchgear is more sophisticated in its trip functionality than switchboard breakers. This allows for a higher degree of coordination.

Circuit Breaker Maintenance
Circuit Breaker Basics

 SIZE

Another important consideration is the size. Switchgear is larger because of the rear access that is necessary for cable terminations, while switchboard construction is smaller and usually requires front access because of the group mounted circuit breaker arrangement.

Some applications are restricted in space, thus, a group-mounted switchboard is the only option. If the equipment needs to be against the wall, thereby eliminating the option for rear access, then the only alternative is group-mounted switchboards that allow for front-accessible terminations.

Group mounted switchboards require the use of molded case breakers as feeders. Because of this, the density can be greater and the overall width would be less. Applications that require higher levels of reliability, maintainability or remote operation need to be designed to allow for rear access of that gear.

PROJECT APPLICATION

Some projects require the use of switchgear, while other projects would be better suited with switchboards. An example of this is schools and the healthcare industry. Power to a school would not be as critical as that to a hospital.

The ability to precisely coordinate breakers allows for enhanced power integrity, thus preventing nuisance trips, resulting in reduced outages. For instance, hospitals require more reliable and dependable power due to the urgency of the industry, since lives are involved and operating tables are used.

operating tables
Power is essential for Hospitals

A switchboard that has a size and cost advantage is suited well for a school, while the switchgear may be better for the hospital. In either case, it would be beneficial to look at the location or project and determine what would be the best option on a case-by-case basis.

 

Use Backup Generators to Prepare for Spring Storm Power Outages

Spring StormSpring storms can wreak havoc and cause major disruptions to daily routines for homes and businesses. Being prepared in advance for spring storms that can cause power outages is critical to maintain operability, mitigate production losses and prevent injuries or even fatalities. Whether you’re caring for a home or managing a commercial facility providing a backup power source through a residential generator or an industrial generator can help keep everyone safe and productive without interruption. Following are some general tips on how to be prepared for spring storms at home or in a commercial business environment.

RESIDENTIAL

There are several ways in which you can ensure your home and family are ready for spring storms. Being prepared is your best defense against a power outage. The precautions outlined in the following checklist are important to maintain in the event of an outage.

  • Develop a family emergency plan. It can include phone numbers of doctors and family members, an evacuation route and a location that is agreed upon prior to meet.
Home disaster kit in preparation for a spring storm.
Prepare your Disaster Kit
  • Create your own disaster kit. This kit can also be a simple Emergency Storm Bucket, which contains important items such as sharpies, tape, flashlights, first aid kits, Ziploc bags, matches, candles, batteries, radio, landline phone, safety gear like goggles, and camera to document damage in a storm.
  • Turn off major appliances such as microwaves, TVs, and computers. This will prevent damage to appliances and overloads to the power system when power is restored. Leave one light switch on so you can be alerted when power is restored.
Unplugging your appliance from the wall in a spring storm.
Unplug appliances to prevent damage to appliances and overloads to the power system
  • Familiarize yourself with the main electrical panel. You may need to turn off the main breaker or reset circuit breakers after an outage.
  • Keep away from fallen wires, flooded areas and storm debris. You should treat any downed wires as though they have electricity running through them.
  • Consider installing a Kohler Standby Generator to protect your home. Standby Generators are installed permanently on the outside of your home. More information on residential generator options is provided later in this article.
  • Use caution when operating a portable generator. Use properly rated extension cords, and don’t place them in your home or enclosed space like a garage. Don’t connect them directly to the home’s electrical system, as electricity can flow back into the power lines and serve as a liability. Plug appliances directly into the portable generator.
KOHLER portable generator
Portable Generator

Many homeowners are now installing an emergency backup power generator. The number one issue people are faced with after a storm is lack of power, cutting off communication and other essentials. There are two main types of residential generators to choose from – portable generators and automatic standby generators.

Some homes opt for portable generators when planning for storm power outages. The benefits include ease of mobility and economical options. They are designed to run a select number of appliances as opposed to the entire home, so there are trade-offs to the benefits as opposed to a standby generator.

A portable generator must be positioned outside a home away from doors and windows in order to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. Homeowners must run the correct extension cords to the generator and need to be present in order to operate and refuel the generator manually.

Kohler Standby Generator
Automatic Standby Home Generator

Automatic standby generators are installed outside the home. Standby generators rely on an automatic transfer switch, which automatically switches on the generator when it senses the main source of power has been lost, and unlike a portable generator, they offer the added benefit of being permanently installed outside the home.

They run on natural gas or propane and run on existing gas lines. Once power is lost in a home, standby generators are turned on automatically within 10 seconds. These generators can power all critical systems and appliances within a home. Homeowners will NOT need to be present to operate and refuel the generator.

A 20 kW KOHLER generator, ideal for homes during and after spring storms
Kohler Home Generator

It is also important to properly maintain your generator by having a professional generator repair technician service the unit periodically. Steiner can help you maintain your generator and keep it running optimally. You can call Steiner at 847-956-3098 anytime, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for generator repair and maintenance services.

In addition to protecting residential homes Kohler also offers commercial and industrial generators that reliably power your business.

COMMERCIAL

Like homeowners, businesses need to make contingency and safety plans ahead of time in preparation for a power outage. The actual protocols vary on the type of commercial facility, however. For example, some buildings have elevators or escalators that may need to follow specified state or municipal regulations. Escape routes, stairwells and exits should be clearly marked. Emergency lights can also be installed to provide visibility by automatically switching on during a power outage. You can get more information on power outage regulations and safety requirements from your local fire department and government offices.

Businesses can benefit, too, from emergency kits. Flashlights, batteries, first aid kits, tools and even food and water are some ideal items to keep in your emergency kits. Having food available serves in the event that employees are confined to the building for an extended period of time.

In order to help save valuable data make sure employee work stations use UL-listed surge protectors and computers are backed up regularly to a data center that utilizes an uninterruptible power supply to keep its servers running when a power outage hits.

Small Business Commercial Generator
Small Business Commercial Generator

Many businesses install backup power generators for industrial and commercial continuous, prime or standby applications. For small businesses a standby commercial generator keeps power on and allows the  business to maintain operations during an outage. The generator is installed on the outside of the facility, much like an AC unit, and uses an automatic transfer switch to turn on automatically when it senses the main power source has been lost, during and outside of normal business hours so critical computing or machine operations can continue. These standby commercial generators run on propane or natural gas, so there’s no refueling.

A powerful choice for a spring storm generator
Industrial Generator

For larger commercial applications Kohler industrial generators can power large-scale data centers, sports stadiums, concert venues, skyscrapers, office buildings and airport facilities. These industrial generators run on diesel, natural or propane gas. In addition to industrial generators installed onsite Kohler offers towable generators.

Towable generators from Kohler, a great spring storm generator
Towable Generator

Towable generators are designed to be used for powering remote locations, sporting events or concerts. They can power hard-wired systems such as A/C, heat, computers, security systems and refrigerator/freezers. Towable generators run on diesel fuel or LP gas.

Backup power is important for every business; there are many benefits, including but not limited to:

  • Keeping the lights, A/C and heating on to provide a safe environment for employees and patrons
  • Protecting your revenue stream and inventory during an outage
  • Powering your communication, security systems and computing systems
  • Keeping operations running so your customers can rely on you

Power generators are a necessity for any business or homeowner alike. How do you decide which type is the best option for you? A towable or an installed commercial generator for your business? Standby or portable generator for your home? As an authorized Kohler Dealer, Steiner can help point you in the right direction with our wide variety of Kohler Generator options and experienced professional technicians. Whether you need help with installation, maintenance, repair or rental of a generator, Steiner Electric offers 24-hour service by simply calling us at 847-956-3098. An operator will be happy to assist and connect you with a seasoned professional generator technician.