Through talking with many maintenance supervisors and technicians throughout the years it seems like many of them dread the summer months. I thought the main reason for this was just due to having to work in facilities that reached well over 120° F in hottest months of the year. While that might be the case for some, many don’t look forward to this time simply due to the increase in industrial electronic equipment failure.
Heat from the summer months causes failures on many types of industrial electronics. Equipment such as power supplies, drives, touchscreens, and plc’s are prone to failure in mass quantity due to the extreme heat in some facilities.
One of the main concerns maintenance teams have is that excessive heat can shorten the life span of a unit. It has been observed that some units can last years longer in facilities where the temperature is lower and more closely regulated. The Arrhenius Equation states that an electronic device can run 32 years at 45° C and only 4 years at 80° C. Heat damage is often very time consuming to track down, many times the internal components that were damaged by heat may look visibly good but will test bad when further inspection is done.
Another concern is while their equipment may be functional; not running the equipment at a predetermined operating temperature may result in production loss. Thermal analysis can be used specifically for this reason, as a way to monitor components to make sure they don’t heat up to a point that would affect functionality.
Being that it is very important for most components to not exceed the manufacturer’s specified temperature range there are a few options. Liquid cooling is used in devices that give off an extreme amount of heat. There are also enclosures with cooling fans that can regulate a set operating temperature. Some manufacturers use natural convection cooling, forced convection cooling, or closed loop cooling. Another option take some heat out of the plant is using an absorption chiller. Often companies implement the use of a device called a thermal cutoff switch or TCO switch which will actually cutoff an electric current when it is heated beyond a predetermined temperature, which is a fail-safe to ensure no additional damage is done to the equipment. Regular maintenance to make sure that all of a devices built in cooling systems are functioning optimally will help as well.
There are many solutions to keeping your equipment running as efficient as possible; you just have to have a plan in place to beat the heat! If the heat of summer months damages your industrial equipment despite your many efforts, we are always here t help! We’re proud to offer Complete Repair and Maintenance on all types of Industrial Electronics, Servo Motors, AC and DC Motors, Hydraulics and Pneumatics.
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