Typically, when facilities undergo a complete wiring devices audit, the main goal is to provide a safe and productive work environment. Electrically unsafe conditions can contribute to workplace injuries, manufacturing downtime, and loss of productivity. Faulty electrical wiring and devices are consistently among the top OSHA-cited infractions and are a leading cause of workplace hazards. A proactive and ongoing review of the quality and service of a facility’s wiring devices can enable cost-effective upgrades that will improve safety and productivity while reducing downtime. For Crown Candy Corp., an 85-year-old candy manufacturer in Macon, Ga., these were all competitive necessities that prompted the company to seek a professional audit of its electrical infrastructure from the Arrow Hart Engineering team at Cooper Wiring Devices, headquartered in Peachtree City, Ga.

Comprehensive recommendations

A detailed auditing process uncovered numerous opportunities for improvement within Crown’s manufacturing plant. The team’s recommendations included replacing standard devices with those that are designed for use in more complex environments. This included the replacement of receptacles, plugs, connectors, switches, and motor controls throughout the Crown facility.

In food & beverage manufacturing environments, it’s common for the electrical infrastructure to be exposed to water, hose down, extreme temperatures, cleaning agents, and physical abuse. Standard industrial devices repeatedly used in these harsh manufacturing environments will corrode, break down, and present potential issues with safety and electrical integrity. For these unique environments, it is recommended to use devices that are watertight (IP66 or greater) to resist ingress of water, dust, and other contaminants. Devices should also be constructed from durable materials designed for use in harsh, corrosive environments, such as stainless steel, glass-filled nylon, and nickel-plated metals. Furthermore, it is vital to protect devices wherever possible from the hazardous environments to which they are exposed with covers, flip-lids and strain relief solutions.

Understanding the environment

Arrow Hart discovered multiple opportunities to upgrade devices in the facility. In those areas that are regularly exposed to hose down or spray with cleaning agents, watertight receptacles, plugs, and connectors were recommended. In areas exposed to incidental water spray, humidity, and airborne contaminants, the team recommended corrosion-resistant receptacles, plugs, and connectors, constructed from special materials made for long-term use in corrosive environments.

A variety of flip covers to protect receptacles and switches throughout the facility were also recommended. According to the manufacturer, by simply using the right kind of device and protecting it with a cover while not in use, you can drastically extend the life of the device and the safety of employees and equipment.

Another common point of failure with wiring devices is due to strain on cable and conductors, resulting in the cable jacket fraying or pulling away from an installed device, exposing the user to live conductors. This hazard can easily be avoided by properly installing the device to the cable and using a wire mesh grip for added strain relief.

Another recommendation was to upgrade multiple motor control switches. In industrial manufacturing facilities, an auxiliary means of motor disconnect is required within line-sight of the motor it controls. In food & beverage facilities, these motor disconnects are typically in close proximity to the food production line, which is often exposed to liquids, food particles, water, and cleaning agents. In the case of Crown Candy, these motor controls were regularly exposed to sugars and syrups, which took their toll on device integrity over time. For these applications, an industrial motor control switch designed specifically for food & beverage applications, featuring a compact, stainless steel, NEMA 4X enclosure and rugged switch design was the solution.

One of the more challenging evaluations involved the facility’s chemical waste building, which houses spent chemicals used in the manufacturing and cleaning processes. The pumps housed in this building required a local means of connectivity, but the receptacles and plugs used in the past were prone to failure on a monthly basis. For this application, Arrow Hart recommended a rugged portable outlet box with corrosion-resistant receptacles and flip-lid cover plates to ensure long-lasting durability in this extremely corrosive environment.

Long-term benefits

Following the initial wiring devices audit and results, the manufacturer conducted a follow-up visit with Crown Candy to further detail the exact products and tools required to best perform the replacement of the devices needed. All applications were documented, and a detailed list of materials was created for the recommended upgrades. Crown Candy is currently in the process of integrating all recommended changes and products into their facility, taking advantage of equipment changeover and downtime of specific lines.