Designing for Reliability, Safety, and Maintenance

Because the design of an electrical system is based on distributing power, we can easily lose sight of its other important functional criteria and if we don’t consider these, longterm system operating costs will skyrocket. To avoid this, electrical systems need to be designed for reliability, safety, and ease of maintenance.

Designing for reliability—For new construction or system updates, the dollars saved installing underrated or marginal equipment is quickly offset by maintenance and downtime. All new equipment should undergo reliability testing and verification.

Designing for safety—Too often, poor design compromises system safety, for example, a design that doesn’t permit safe maintenance on breakers without shutting down a process (typically not feasible) or a design that increases the arc flash hazard risk category. All new system designs and equipment should be evaluated for safety, especially in terms of arc flash hazard.

Designing for maintenance—All equipment, no matter how well built, eventually needs maintenance, yet the system design can make equipment inefficient—or virtually impossible— to maintain. All new system designs should be reviewed to ensure ease of equipment maintenance.

Sure, the goal of electrical systems is to distribute power. But by designing them for reliability, safety, and maintenance ease, we can ensure that they do so cost effectively—and for many years to come.