Smarter safety to protect your greatest assets

Maintaining a smarter, safer work environment while minimising operational costs is the key goal of distribution switchgear users.

Maintaining a smarter, safer work environment while minimising operational costs and downtime caused by accidental events is the key goal of distribution switchgear users. While major failure events such as arc flash are rare, when they do occur, the results can be catastrophic to both equipment and personnel and disrupt planned capital expenditures.

It goes without saying that safety should be a priority for every business. Arc flash mitigation solutions are essential because they save lives. But that’s not all. Taking the right precautions today can save you time and money in the future: protecting people and assets, reducing the cost of injuries and damage, limiting downtime and maintenance requirements. There is a real business case for arc flash protection and mitigation and at ABB we are proud that our wide range of solutions goes beyond compliance with standards and regulations to bring you the best possible value.

Arc flash is one of the most dangerous and potentially deadly incidents that can occur in electrical installations, causing severe harm to the people and equipment involved. An arc flash is an electrical fault or short-circuit which passes through a physical air gap, or bridge, between two electrodes. Arc flash incidents can be caused by:
• Dust, impurities, corrosion, condensation, animal intrusion
• Dropping or left behind tools
• Failure of insulating materials
• Improper installation
• Loose bus or cable connections
• Lack of, or inappropriate maintenance
• Inappropriate operating conditions.

Passive, active and preventive mitigation solutions

Arc flash mitigation solutions reduce damage to equipment, limiting downtime as less time is required for repairs and keeping costs to a minimum. In addition, the safety of personnel is enhanced. There are three design philosophies which protect operator and equipment in the event of an arc flash incident, one or more may be adopted within the same switchgear.

Passive arc flash protection solutions: Switchgear designed and tested to mechanically withstand the electric arc. Protection is afforded by the containment of the arc within the switchgear and the means to direct the arc gases and debris to a safe area. When a switchgear is housed in a Compact Secondary Substation (CSS), the enclosure is also designed and tested to mechanically withstand the electric arc, while the protection principle remains the same: direct gases and debris to a safe area. Passive solutions also include advanced switchgear design features to reduce the probability of an arc flash occurring, such as insulated busbars, segregation between compartments and creation of arc ignition protected zones (AIPZ) as much as advanced CSS designs safe to be installed in public areas.

Active arc flash mitigation solutions: Switchgear equipped with devices and solutions to limit the arc incident energy (the amount of thermal energy generated during an electric arc event) and consequently limit the damage to the equipment.

Preventive arc flash protection solutions: Switchgear equipped for remote operation, so that standard operations such as switching, diagnostic and operational monitoring, racking in/out, etc. can be conducted outside of the dangerous arc flash exposure area. Preventive solutions also include the predictive maintenance of assets, which enables a reduction in the number of live equipment interactions to only the most necessary and targeted actions as identified by analysis of the data provided by these systems. This not only minimises human-equipment interactions but also improves equipment reliability and reduces maintenance costs.

Absolute protection of all personnel during an arc-fault is of course the number one priority. However, it is even better to take active measures to prevent such an event from happening in the first place. This not only eliminates risk to people, it also offers protection against damage and even destruction of system components.

Learn more about the role of passive, active and preventive mitigation solutions in this comprehensive brochure.

Scan on the QR code or click here to download a new ABB whitepaper which details the effects of an electric arc and the mitigation strategies and solutions to avoid them.

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