Updating Obsolete Electrical Systems in Industrial Settings

Updating Obsolete Electrical Systems in Industrial Settings


Upgrading electrical systems in industrial facilities is crucial for optimizing operations, improving safety, and staying compliant with changing codes and regulations. However, these upgrades often require significant investments of time and money. As the facility manager responsible for maintaining my plant's electrical systems, I want to walk through the key considerations when embarking on these important projects.

Assessing the Current Electrical System

Before proposing any upgrades, it's important to thoroughly evaluate the current electrical system. Here are some of the key steps I take:

Planning Electrical Upgrades

Once I've completed a full assessment, I work with electrical contractors and engineers to plan system upgrades. Key aspects of this process include:

Prioritizing Updates

Budgeting and Cost Analysis

Execution Strategy and Scheduling

Key Electrical Upgrades to Consider

Based on my past experience, here are some of the most impactful electrical upgrades for industrial facilities:


Upgrading older switchgear improves safety and allows reconfiguration for changes in load distribution. New microprocessor-based trip units provide better protection.


Replacing obsolete transformers increases capacity and efficiency. TP-1 insulating fluid eliminates fire safety risks compared to older mineral oil-filled units.


Installing enclosed busway instead of cable helps organize distribution runs and allows quick changes to electrical circuits.


LED fixtures greatly improve light quality and significantly reduce energy consumption compared to older fluorescent or HID lighting.


NEMA Premium high-efficiency motors can save thousands of dollars annually in energy costs compared to older standard motors.

Backup Power

Modern diesel or natural gas backup generators and UPS systems help maintain uptime during utility outages.

Executing a Successful Electrical Upgrade Project

Based on past project experience, here are some keys to completing a complex electrical modernization initiative:


While upgrading electrical infrastructure requires substantial investment, the long-term benefits for safety, reliability, efficiency, and compliance make the effort worthwhile. By taking a strategic approach and collaborating with qualified partners, facility managers can successfully execute these critical industrial projects. With proper planning and execution, the electrical modernization process can position manufacturing plants for continued success.