Environment

Many sensitive loads exist in harsh or hazardous environments inside facilities. Process control computers are in chemical production houses. Variable speed drives are in steel and lumber mills. Digital monitoring systems are in printed circuit board and IC fabrication labs.

Manufacturers can design devices to survive the environment. The problem is that while the device can withstand the environment, the needed power connections or power treatment devices cannot.

For example, a process control computer may easily withstand the high temperatures in a foundry, but when voltage sags call for a voltage regulator, the regulator itself may not survive.

Another problem environment is where corrosives are present. We seem to have a mentality that says, "If you protect something, then you can just plug it in." Receptacles, wire, connections, panels, even breakers can become corroded. Regular power system inspections are essential for these locations.

Electromagnetic concerns should also be mentioned. Manufacturing processes generate high frequency noise, as do wireless communication systems, microwave systems, and so on. While this noise starts out radiated, it can also cause all kinds of power problems. Even seemingly petty devices cause problems.

For example, a fish cannery was experiencing problems with a computer controlling a canning line. The problem was traced to an industrial-sized bug zapper. When large bugs got zapped, the noise coupled into the power lines feeding the computer. So, this simple bug zapper caused thousands of dollars worth of problems. Simply relocating it fixed the problem.