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Climate control maintenance is the key to efficiency

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Karl Lycett, Rittal's Product Manager for Climate Control, explains why maintaining cabinet climate control systems is not a false economy - rather it is the key to efficiency.

Climate control maintenance is the key to efficiency£480,000 is a lot of money! But that is what I was told it costs one of the UK's largest automotive manufacturers per hour when they experience downtime on their paint plant. Your overheads may not be as substantial as the above example, but that does not take away from the fact that the old adage you hear in every corner of business and production is true: time is money.

Regardless of your industry and the product you manufacture, production downtime is a crucial performance indicator to monitor because of the direct impact it can have on your bottom line. More downtime equals increased spares/maintenance costs, taken directly from your profit. This could have been invested to meet more pertinent business objectives, purchasing new machinery, etc.

When I speak with customers across the UK regarding their attitude towards climate control maintenance, it tends to fall by the wayside on the priority list and there seems to be some main drivers for this thought process:

"I will just fix a problem when it occurs"

In the past, the approach of reactive maintenance was seen as acceptable for most businesses. However, times have changed. The key goals of any sized business are now becoming increased throughput, cost efficiency and continuous improvement. Potential roadblocks to output targets need to be nipped in the bud and nobody wants to be the one in the morning meeting explaining why yesterday's targets were not met!

The implementation of a semi-regular maintenance schedule does not have to be massively time-consuming. Even something as simple as a weekly visual check of cooling equipment filter mats or any system alarms can alert you in good time to call in the experts, who can then perform a more detailed review for you.

"My equipment is currently operating and I have not serviced it in months/years"

The problem may be "out of sight, out of mind" for now but the longer your cooling equipment is left unchecked, the higher the risk.

For example, if a fan unit is in a dusty environment and the filter mat becomes clogged, this will reduce its effectiveness to cool the electrical equipment within due to a reduced level of air throughput.

This, in turn, can increase the enclosure internal temperature. As a rule of thumb, for every 10degC you increase your internal temperature, you halve the life of the equipment within and increase the likelihood of an unexpected failure.

"We just open the enclosure door for a while"

This is treating the symptoms rather than the illness. If you are having to resort to a tactic such as using large fans to blow ambient air into an open enclosure you could be doing more harm than good. Not to mention that this is massively dangerous from a health and safety standpoint.

An enclosure's purpose is to create an environment in which electrical equipment is protected from ambient contaminants. Having the door open allows a constant stream of dirty air to be pulled into the enclosure. This will then gather in switchgear/connection points and can cause short circuits or block on-board fans, which will result in damage to componentry, reduced life and possible critical component failure.

If this course of action is required, it can point to the fact that the cooling equipment currently employed is not adequate for the installation, or it requires some level of maintenance to bring it back into working order.

A free RiAssure Cooling Review from Rittal is perfect in this instance as your local Climate Control expert will perform a short appraisal of your existing equipment, give you honest feedback as to whether the equipment is adequate, and also provide details/quotations for a service contract to suit your ongoing needs.

"I do not have the manpower" or "we have a company who does that work for us"

Many companies I visit tell me that they outsource their servicing to a third party. However, I tend to question what checks they are performing, given that I have been called onto site because an enclosure is overheating!

On one occasion, I asked the customer to speak with his current service provider to understand what checks were being undertaken, because his cooling units were in quite a state of disrepair. It became clear after a short discussion that they serviced 'air conditioning' in the offices and did not even look in the factory!

Obviously this is not the case for all service providers out there. However, climate control equipment is becoming increasingly efficient, while new, sophisticated, cutting-edge technology is launched every year.

The only guarantee of the highest level of checks and service will come from engineers who have been trained by the manufacturers about the technology and its detailed workings.

Rittal has been manufacturing industry-leading climate control equipment for 30 years and all of our service staff are highly trained on the whole portfolio to ensure they can remedy your issues.

Take the introductory example again and turn the spotlight onto your business. Everyone has budgets and savings targets to hit, so ask yourself, can you afford NOT to have correct maintenance in place?

For more information go to www.rittal.co.uk.

 
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