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Increased Productivity In Manufacturing Hindered By Power Quality Concerns

Written by Ken Gaebler
Published: 1/14/2014

Manufacturing industry experts say power quality fluctuations are a serious obstacle to improved productivity in the manufacturing sector.

After experiencing a string of less-than-stellar years, there are signs that the manufacturing industry is starting to rebound as business owners target productivity for competitive advantage--an objective that some say is being threatened by power quality issues.

Manufacturing Downtime Threats

Over the last year, U.S. manufacturing sector productivity has increased by 2.3 percent. Most companies have already implemented low-hanging technologies like ERPs and CAD tools, but costly, game-changing technologies are simply beyond the reach of average manufacturing companies.

So instead of relying on technology for productivity improvements, many manufacturers are going old school. Although maintaining business equipment is always a priority, manufacturers are looking for new strategies to maximize floor space and minimize equipment downtime in order to achieve meaningful gains in productivity.

But in a recent Manufacturing.net article, Innovolt CTO Ben Grimes reported that an area manufacturers frequently overlook is power quality variations--an issue that causes 30-40 percent of manufacturing downtime.

Citing U.S. Department of Energy statistics, Grimes said that the U.S. economy loses in excess of $120 billion in productivity each year due to inferior power quality and power disturbances. It's estimated that the average industrial plant experiences between 10 and 40 power disturbances per year, with more than half of these disruptions impacting equipment and processes.

There are a variety of events and issues that can lead to power disruptions in manufacturing, including turning on/off large pieces of equipment, lightning strikes, the use of microwave technology and faulty wiring.

To mitigate the risk of productivity losses due to power disturbances, Grimes and Innovolt (a power management solution provider) recommend that manufacturers implement technology to monitor, manage and analyze power usage, enabling a more proactive approach to protecting their companies from potential disruptions.

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