The plant has a wireless system that is supposed to provide real-time information about the production floor to people in the administrative offices. But sometimes the statistics and status alerts don't match actual conditions. Maintenance is receiving automated alarms that turn out to be false. And sometimes a machine simply resets itself or exhibits other undesirable behavior. The problems seem to be completely random. To eliminate outdated router problems, maintenance bought all new routers at a local office supply store, but the troubles remain.

What should you do?

The first thing you need to do is replace the consumer routers with industrial versions. This alone may be the solution. Consumer-grade routers aren't designed to operate in the relatively harsh industrial environment. The right industrial router will handle the heat, electrical noise, EMF, and other factors that consumer-grade routers cannot. In addition, don't set the routers next to raceway containing a 480V, 400A circuit. Locate them away from sources of EMF.

If you still have problems, you might want to:

  • Have an IT person check the information system to verify it's operating correctly and there aren't any problems in the database or programs.
  • Remove any ground rods within the plant (load side). If you have improper grounding and bonding, you'll likely have random malfunctions.
  • Observe the operators in areas related to the most frequent anomalies. People may be using smart phones in the production area. This unsafe practice may be causing system interference.
  • Compare your power analyzer logs to when system malfunctions occurred.