Rewiring a factory can be a major undertaking, but with proper planning and execution, it can be done without violating codes or shutting down production. Here is an in-depth guide on how I rewired my factory while keeping operations running smoothly.

Assess the Current Electrical System

The first step is to thoroughly assess the current electrical system. This involves:

Inspecting All Electrical Equipment

I walked through the entire factory, inspecting all electrical panels, wiring, lights, outlets, and machinery. I made detailed notes on the condition and type of all electrical equipment. This gave me a complete understanding of what needs to be upgraded or replaced.

Reviewing Electrical Drawings

I obtained the original electrical drawings for the factory. This showed me how the electrical system was originally set up. I compared the drawings to the actual installed equipment to see what modifications had been made over the years. This revealed potential code violations and other issues.

Load Testing Critical Circuits

Using a clamp meter, I load tested all the major motor and lighting circuits. This verified that the wiring could handle the current draw. Circuits that were overloaded needed to be rewired.

Create a Rewiring Plan

With all the information gathered, I developed a detailed rewiring plan. The key elements included:

Upgrading the Main Service Panel

The current service panel was dated and undersized. I planned an upgrade to a new 400A panel with plenty of room for circuit breakers. This would support adding new circuits.

Running All New Feeder Wiring

Much of the feeder wiring from the panel to subpanels was old and undersized. The plan called for running new conduit and large gauge copper feeders to support updated electrical loads.

Improving Circuit Layouts

The circuit layout was disorganized with multiple code violations. The rewiring would group similar loads on dedicated circuits of proper size. Dedicated neutral lines would also be run for motor loads.

Retrofitting LED Lighting

Fluorescent fixtures would be replaced with new LED lights. This significantly reduces lighting load and improves efficiency. New lighting circuits were designed.

Phase the Rewiring to Avoid Downtime

With major rewiring, the key is avoiding any downtime that shuts production. This requires carefully phasing the project:

Work During Maintenance Shutdowns

Any rewiring of non-critical circuits was scheduled during planned maintenance shutdowns. This allowed pulling old wiring and running new circuits with zero effect on production.

Set Up Temporary Power Routing

For rewiring essential motor and lighting circuits, I set up temporary power feeds to critical equipment prior to working on those circuits. This kept them energized during rewiring.

Coordinate With Production Schedules

Rewiring work was scheduled in sections during lower volume production shifts. This minimized disruption when briefly turning off power to tie in new circuits.

Hire Dedicated Electricians

I brought in a full temporary crew of experienced electrical contractors. This allowed faster rewiring with more manpower, reducing downtime.

Follow Strict Safety Protocols

With extensive rewiring occurring in a live production environment, safety was paramount. My protocols included:

Lock Out/Tag Out Procedures

Any circuits being worked on were fully deenergized and locked out. Caution tags clearly indicated that status to prevent accidental energizing.

Enable Arc Flash Safety Devices

Updated arc flash safety devices were placed on live panels. These detect arcs and cut power faster than breakers to prevent injuries.

Require Full PPE

Electricians wore arc rated clothing, hard hats, safety glasses, and gloves. This provides protection from both arc flash and contact hazards.

Monitor Air Quality

Air quality monitors were placed to detect any insulation or other particulates. This ensures the air remains safe to work in when running conduit.

Have Code Inspections Done Throughout Project

I arranged to have the electrical inspector visit throughout the rewiring process. As each section was completed, I had it fully inspected and approved prior to reenergizing it. This ensured no violations were overlooked.

By following this extensive planning and phased execution process, I successfully rewired my entire factory with zero code violations or production downtime. Let me know if you need any help implementing similar projects!