So, just what is an arc-flash study? With a need to understand what dangers may exist in your electrical system, the arc-flash study takes a holistic look at the entire electrical power system, all the way down to the individual piece of equipment that is being reviewed. Through the process of an arc-flash study, you will learn about your voltage class and characteristics, incident energy – the arc energy at a distance from electrical equipment, limited approach distances and ppe required to service the equipment.
What type of information is needed in order to initiate the study?
As you begin the process of information gathering, a key area to begin is with your electrical system’s transformer section as this relay the amount of current that could be realized across a fault. Cable length and type is also very important as this will speak to your level(s) of impedance as well as the short circuit protection device. This information in typically found in a one line/single line diagram. Along with a solid one line, site walks with in-person review are essential for a complete arc-flash study. If you don’t have a one line, an in-depth site walk with additional engineering and analysis can deliver adequate information to proceed with the study and associated rating.
Ideally, as an industry best practice, arc-flash studies should be performed every five years.
This allows enough time for capital improvements and process additions to occur before the next study, while not extending too far out to leave your system potentially vulnerable. So, you’ve completed your arc-flash study, what can you do with the information to realize the value in the study?
The information obtained in an arc-flash study gives you everything you need to accurately assess your current level of PPE; is it where it needs to be to keep technicians safe? Additionally, the study can show you where technology could potentially be integrated into your system in order to further reduce potential hazards. The arc-flash study is the key starting point to understanding your electrical system and how to safely maintain it. Both are critical to keeping employees safe and your process up and running.