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Risks using electric motors in industrial machinery

Noemie Michelon
by Noemie Michelon on Aug 7, 2017, 2:02:00 PM

When working with electricity, especially when operating machinery or equipment in large industrial environments, there is always an element of risk.

As the consequences of these risks can be serious, and sometimes fatal, European and most western countries require that operators of electric-powered heavy industrial machinery are trained in the mechanics of electricity and the dangers involved.

What exactly are the risks?

Electrical risks usually arise from contact with an unprotected piece of wiring, from a short circuit, or from an electric arc flash – the latter can reach temperatures above 19000°C at the arc terminal, causing metal to melt and a high risk of explosion.

Operators (and by-standers) may be in danger of receiving an electric shock, or in the worst case scenario, being electrocuted.  If there is an explosion or a fire, then anyone in the vicinity may suffer severe burns, loss of limbs, plus loss of hearing or vision.

Equally, though obviously of less importance, machinery and equipment may be damaged or destroyed.

 

And the possible consequences?

A life-changing injury or fatality in the workplace is every company’s worst fear. Managing the fall-out - from looking after the emotional welfare of colleagues, to setting up internal inquiries and handling any subsequent litigation – can be a delicate, expensive and often exhausting process.

In terms of covering damaged equipment and settling employee claims, most companies have excellent insurance schemes. However, as we all know, if the company is found to be at fault, for example if an operator does not have a valid BR qualification, then there could be a risk that the insurance is invalidated.

Reputation

Equally damaging, potentially, can be the harm caused to a company’s reputation. A serious incident inevitably attracts media attention and it’s often impossible to measure just how much damage is done – and for how long – by negative press coverage.

As we all know, it can take years to build up a reputation in industry, so it makes sense to minimise or eliminate as many risks in the workplace as possible.

Enter stage left … the compressed air motor!

Every problem has a solution and the beauty of pneumatic air motors is that they carry no risk.  Powered by compressed air, there is no electricity in the system and therefore none of the above risks can occur.

The worst that can happen when using an air motor is mechanical failure in which case the motor simply stops. At no time are your operators, or other people, in danger or your equipment at risk of being damaged.

So, can you think of any reason why you might choose an electric motor instead of an air motor?  No? Welcome to the club! Neither can most of our clients.

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