Mueller Electric Blog

Tim Ulshafer

Director of Sales; Mueller Electric Company
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Product Applications: Protective Utility Grounds

Posted by Tim Ulshafer on Sep 15, 2020 2:32:00 PM

Protective Utility Grounding assemblies are used on de-energized lines when the crews are performing maintenance or are making changes to the grid. The grounding assemblies are to ensure any spikes in electricity are rerouted to the ground and out of harms way.

In most cases there are three lines or more which will need to be grounded. To do this effectively the grounding cables will need to be connected to the lines as illustrated in the picture.

In this case, five grounding assemblies are required to make the ground connection complete and safe. The final, or lowest assembly, is attached to the grounding rod which is screwed into the ground. 

An aluminum connecting rod is available to attach the clamps if necessary. This keeps the clamps in close proximity to each other when placement is important. 

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Topics: Utility Grounding

Quick & Easy Ground Checking at Your Fingertips

Posted by Tim Ulshafer on Apr 18, 2019 2:18:50 PM

Paint line managers of electrostatic paint lines are often tasked to provide plastic substrates with an evenly distributed bright and shiny paint coating and with keeping the painting environment safe.  

That’s easy, right? Most people think that all they have to do is to make sure the substrate is grounded.

 Yes, that is true, but how do you really know if the ground in place provides a consistent low level of resistance?

One way to check the resistance of the plastic substrate is with a multi-meter (after the conductive costing is applied). This will provide an accurate measurement as long as both probes are placed as needed. The problem is that you need 3 hands to hold the two probes plus the meter, while you touch the probes to places that are often far apart. Additionally, the probes are pointed, so caution must be taken to not scratch or damage the plastic substrate which could remove the conductive primer. The process of using a multi-meter to take a consistent reading across the entire plastic substrate can be very cumbersome and time consuming while the line is in full operation.

A much easier and more efficient way to take a measurement of resistance is to use the Ground Analyzer from Mueller Electric. This is a hand- held device that provides the tools to take a quick and easy measurement of the ground effectiveness across the plastic substrate. The Ground Analyzer will take a reading but will also provide a quick go-no go indicator which will allow the paint line manager to know if the substrate is grounded throughout and is ready for base coating. Every paint manager has their own unique requirements for appropriate grounding levels. For some it may be 500Ωs while others may go at 1MΩ or higher. The Ground Analyzer allows for a threshold to be set at various preset levels (one setting is available for user input) and the reading taken will provide a green indicator if the resistance measurement is below the threshold. If the reading is above the threshold the indicator will turn red alerting the operator to the fact that a better ground is needed. For a better understanding of how the Ground Analyzer works you can watch the video or see the PDF here

 

Topics: Grounding Plastic

Mueller at Electronica

Posted by Tim Ulshafer on Nov 13, 2018 1:49:34 PM

Mueller Electric is at Electronica's 2018 event being held this week in Munich, Germany. Stop by the Digi-Key locations in Hall C booth 500 and Hall B booths 164, 165 & 170 to learn more.

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How to Make Sure Your Environment Is Properly Grounded

Posted by Tim Ulshafer on Oct 11, 2018 2:02:31 PM

Everyone wants a safe work environment. One of the workplace hazards are explosions and fires due to static discharge, but these can be mitigated by grounding equipment. Proper grounding is the only way to ensure true static protection if you are in any environment where the potential for static discharge exists.

Many places ground with heavy duty cast clips, solid copper clips and clamps of all shapes and sizes connected to a wire and attached to drums and pipes throughout a storeroom, plant floor or pumping stations.  These are referred to as grounding assemblies or “straps.”

These areas may or may not be perfectly grounded. Even though they may look grounded, it’s hard to tell if it’s done properly. An improper ground could mean safety hazards that can lead to fire or explosions.

First and foremost, it must be determined that access to a fully grounded grounding pin or buss bar is readily available. This will be necessary for a solid true ground and will act as the backbone of the grounding system. Keep in mind, however, that the grounding pin and buss bar must be kept clean so solid metal-to-metal connections are made.

The next step in ensuring that something is properly grounded is to make sure the correct connection device is utilized.

Many times a C-clamp or center spring clip will be used for this connection. This would certainly result in a good connection as the C-clamp can bite into the metal pin or buss bar and the clamp pressure on the center spring clamp is strong enough to drive the teeth into the metal pin or bar. It’s important that the clamp or clip is able to pierce any paint that might be on the surface. The connections on the grounding pin and buss bar must be solid tight connections as maintaining continual connectivity is critical for the integrity of the entire grounding system.

The type of cabling used from connection to connection (grounding pin / buss bar to clamp or clip) will depend on the environment being grounded. If the environment is clean such as a paint mixing room, uninsulated stainless steel wire rope or braided copper can be utilized. In other applications where the environment may contain more contaminants, an insulated wire may and should be considered such as THHN (oil and gas resistant).

grounding clip 2 fbNow that the connection to the ground source and wire are complete, focus can be placed on the connection to the can, drum, or tank. This connection can be made with a cast clamp with points, C-clamp containing a point or center spring clip with strong clamp pressure and teeth. The type of connection depends on the type of surface in which it is being attached. If the surface is clean and free of dirt and paint, a center spring clip can work fine. The size of the clip will be determined by the size or thickness of the object being grounded. If the container is dirty or painted the connection will need to be made with a connector which will break through those layers to make a solid metal-to-metal connection. Cast clips with points and the C-clamp with a point are perfect for this application.

Once a connection is made to the first container a “daisy chain” method of connecting the remaining containers in the area can be used. This means that a grounding cable can be attached from container to container to maintain a good ground as long as the series of containers is attached to the one connected to the grounding source. Keep in mind that each grounded container must have a solid metal-to-metal connection with the grounding device. It may be necessary in more caustic environments to wire each container directly to the grounding source. This same approach can be applied to grounding pipes for fluid flow, and even grounding work stations.

Following the above steps for creating a solid grounding system should produce good results and create a safe environment.  To confirm that there is good connectivity, take resistance measurements with a multi-meter, ohm-meter or ground analyzer. To ensure entire system integrity, a lead should be placed on the connection on the grounding source (grounding pin or buss bar) and the other on the very last connection in the system. This will incorporate a resistance measurement from point-to-point for the entire grounding system. If the reading taken is zero or approaching zero, the system is well grounded and a safe environment exists. If the reading approaches 1M Ohm then check the connections throughout the system to ensure that there are solid metal-to-metal connections. Once the appropriate measurement is received (zero or approaching zero), you have a good and well-grounded system in place ensuring static protection.         

 

Topics: Paint Line Grounding, Grounding Metal, Static Electricity Grounding, Grounding, Grounding Plastic, Grounding Clamp

Plant Safety in Grounding & Bonding

Posted by Tim Ulshafer on Sep 21, 2018 1:29:55 PM

When you think of plant safety it is common to think about the things you can see or do. This can be rules and regulations on how to navigate throughout the plant as well as wearing the appropriate safety attire such as hard hats, safety glasses, ear plugs, in addition to fire suits or Kevlar gloves to name a few. So, if the plant has all these things, isn’t it safe? Well, maybe, or maybe not? What about the things you can’t see such as static electricity? Have you considered the need for grounding and bonding?

C clamp barrel fb size 1The number of static electricity incidents reported in the U.S. exceeds more the 250 a year. The reports of these incidents are way more common that you would like to think. Certainly, when electrostatic charge build-up exists in a flammable or explosive environment a very hazardous situation has been created.

Typically these situations can be avoided by installing high quality low resistance grounding/ bonding cables containing clips and clamps. The clips are required to maintain high clamp pressure and the clamps will need to have a paint piercing point to be effective in garnering a solid metal on metal connection to reduce resistance and reduce static. The clips and clamps can be connected to a braided copper cable or better yet, a stainless steel wire rope which tends to hold up better in industrial applications. Make sure the connections to the cables are tight and always test the assembly for low resistance, the closer you get to 1 OHM the better.

Grounding / bonding cables don’t always guarantee static dissipation. Many times a grounding or bonding cable is attached to an object (tank or pump) which has been coated for protection. These types of coatings can impede the clip or clamp’s ability to make a solid metal to metal connection, which in turn, increases the resistance within the grounding structure. With increased resistance comes the possibility of electrostatic discharge failure. Rust build up on the clip or clamp can also create a coating which will disrupt a solid metal to metal connection. As a result, this too will create an unsafe environment. To avoid these situations, always test your grounding / bonding cable’s connections for resistance at the time of employment. If the resistance is low, great! Move on. If the resistance is high, make the necessary adjustments to insure a solid connection and low resistance. Don’t take a chance, make sure a solid connection is evident before giving it your seal of approval.

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Proper maintenance is also critical to insure that your grounding / bonding equipment is in proper condition to effectively reduce static. Regular inspections of your grounding / bonding equipment are a necessity in any industrial setting. As you know, industrial environments can and will severely test the structural integrity of any device, including grounding / bonding cables and assemblies. Remember, inspect what you expect!

In conclusion, plant safety goes well beyond the need for appropriate attire and traffic flow logistics throughout the plant. Electrostatic discharge, the invisible threat, will need to be addressed as well. High quality, low resistance affordable grounding / bonding equipment is readily available to provide the required protection. Appropriately placed grounding / bonding cables and assemblies along with consistent resistance testing will provide a safe work environment for everyone.         

To read more about grounding and bonding, check out our whitepaper 3 cables 2

Topics: Grounding Metal, Static Electricity Grounding, Grounding Wires, Grounding, Grounding Clamp, Static Electricity, Static Control, Static Electricity Industrial, engineering, custom cables

Case Study: Retrofitting A Wire Harness

Posted by Tim Ulshafer on Sep 11, 2018 9:02:48 AM

Business Challenge: The case of retrofitting a new device onto a legacy harness.

A major engineering firm approached Mueller Electric to help engineer a solution to their customer’s problem of installing new fleet intercoms into their current vehicles. The vehicles already had a wire harness accessible through the dashboard which was installed during the initial assembly process at the factory. This harness accommodated the docking station for the original intercoms which have now become obsolete. Since intercoms are a necessity for the fleet, new intercoms were purchased but they were not compatible with the original harness. One option would have been to replace the original harness in the vehicle, but this would have been very expensive and time consuming.

Solution: Build a cable assembly with the necessary functionality that can mate with each end successfully.    

The engineering firm’s customer wanted to have a short, light-weight solution as space on the cab was limited. It also needed to be easy to install as there were several thousand cabs that needed to be retrofitted with the new intercom. Additionally, the solution had to provide a seamless functionality so there were no interruptions to service in the cab.

IMG_0896Result: A custom solution was built, tested and placed into service. 

The engineering firm provided drawings of the initial harness, the new intercom and a sample of the new docking station. After careful consideration, a conceptual drawing was created and prototypes were assembled. The prototypes had a modular connector on one end which mated with the original harness and a DC plug on the other which mated with the new docking station and were joined by an 18 AWG 2 conductor cable 18 inches in length. It was short, light weight and successfully mated with both the original harness and new docking station. The prototypes were installed in test cabs and they worked perfectly. An order was placed too retrofit the remaining cabs.  

Future: Custom answers to transportation challenges

Many times, a component or system becomes obsolete forcing a company to replace it. This can also result in needing to replace much more than the one component to keep everything compatible and in working order.  In the transportation industry, this has a very costly outcome as it also leads to downtime as well as hours of labor in the replacement.  Mueller Electric is able to provide a solution for companies to bridge the old and the new, through cost effective solutions. A company can bring the fleet up to date quickly while saving money in the process.

 

This is just one example of the capability that Mueller Electric’s custom assembly program can deliver. Whether it’s an application of retrofitting, grounding, connecting equipment, test and measurement, maintenance, or any other custom application Mueller can provide a solution specific to your requirements. Mueller Electric has provided high quality, long lasting and cost effective solutions to the power generation and distribution, oil & gas, automotive, manufacturing and medical industries and more for generations.  

For more information on our custom capabilities, check out our page here.  

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Topics: custom cables

Questions to Determine If Your Paint Line Needs Better Grounding

Posted by Tim Ulshafer on Aug 27, 2018 10:30:38 AM

Have you noticed lately that your paint line isn’t producing the quality it once did?

Are your substrates weighing less as a finished product?

Are your thickness measurements showing less versus more?

Have you noticed more overspray in your paint booth?

Are your robots wearing more paint than your substrates?

 If you answered yes to any or all of these questions you certainly have something going wrong in your paint process, not to mention your increased costs of paint as well as your amount of scrap and rework.

 

 There are many different factors that can contribute to problems within the paint process. Some examples are:

  •  The manufacturer changed the composition of the paint
  • Something is wrong with the paint nozzles
  • There is a bug in the programming

  So you spend countless hours going through this and everything has checked out but the output remains the same.  Have you checked your system to insure you are maintaining an adequate ground for your paint process? Oh, I am assuming you ARE grounding, right?

 The grounding process is not glamorous or fun, but it can make or break your success in producing a great paint job. I would always recommend that you check the resistance between the substrate and your most solid connection to your paint line conveyor. My guess is you will find a reading well above 1 Mega Ohm (some have had infinite readings which means no ground at all) which for many means a poor ground and a bad paint job. It all comes down to making sure you have solid connections throughout your paint process which allows the charges to flow as the paint line requires.

 Some things to check are:

  •  Do you have good connections between the substrate and carrier?
  • Does the carrier have a solid connection to the conveyor?
  • How frequently is the conveyor track cleaned and connectivity checked (I have received answers such as never or very rarely)?
  • Does the conveyor ground tie into the ground connection for your paint delivery system?

 This all may sound simple but these issues are the most common areas to check when paint quality deteriorates. Proper maintenance and diligence to grounding is key to providing a great paint output. Adding a grounding assembly (or straps) can be a great inexpensive insurance policy which will help produce a consistent high quality paint output while reducing the cost of scrap, rework and overspray.

For more information on grounding and static electricity in industry, you can check out our whitepaper

Mueller Electric can also help design the custom assembly perfect for your application.

See Our Custom Capabilities    Download the Catalog

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Topics: Painting metal

Selecting a Supplier to Build your Custom Cable Assembly

Posted by Tim Ulshafer on Jun 19, 2018 10:35:30 AM

Many believe that taking a “least cost” approach is best in sourcing a supplier for the building of their custom cable assembly. What does that approach guarantee? Well, it guarantees a low price but does it guarantee on time delivery of a high quality product? Unfortunately, when accepting a low price as the main driver for supplier selection you usually get what you pay for, a great price, but, also long lead times and a product of marginal quality. Custom assemblies are usually unique in their design and are quite involved when it comes to design and assembly. To effectively source a supplier to build your unique custom cable assembly you should consider many factors on the way to your final decision. These factors are:

  • Reputation
  • Experience
  • Ability to provide prototypes
  • Willingness to provide samples for test
  • Ability to adjust to design changes quickly
  • Ability to meet deadlines
  • Ownership and financial stability

When you start your search make sure you look for companies who have a reputation of supplying quality products. You will avoid unnecessary risks by limiting your search to those who know how to deliver quality products. Make sure your selection originates from only those with a great reputation for quality. This will provide a great foundation for making the proper supplier selection. Within this group of potential suppliers find out which have experience in building and supplying cable assemblies. If you are looking for complex harnesses make sure you look for those with harness expertise. If you are looking for more simplistic assemblies such as grounding assemblies, for example, go with a supplier who has expertise in supplying quality grounding assemblies.

brainstorming 1When it comes to having a uniquely designed custom cable assembly it is always best practice to have a prototype made from the original specification for your consideration. This will allow your engineer(s) and possibly your customer a chance to review the original assembly build to insure it meets everyone’s expectations. Product modifications can usually be spotted at this time. Very few first articles are perfect right from spec. If a potential supplier will not agree to provide a prototype, move on and find a supplier who will.

Once a final version of the prototype is established it may be necessary for a number of samples to be built for testing purposes. If this is the case for your assembly make sure you find a supplier who is willing to provide test samples of the assemblies you need. Testing is usually necessary to insure the assembly can perform as expected from the prototyping phase. Like prototyping this too can lead to additional design changes. This is a critical step in the process of cable assembly development. Like prototyping, if your prospective supplier is not willing to provide samples, consider moving on with your selection.

Another important consideration is your prospective supplier’s ability to ship on time and meet deadlines. We’ve all been involved with projects that are held up due to longer than expected lead times. Yes, sometimes things happen that are beyond your control, but, many suppliers eager to get the business often quote shorter lead times simply to win business. When this occurs, nobody wins as lead times often stretch well beyond project deadlines bringing the project to a halt. During your selection process ask your prospective supplier how they quote lead times. Additionally, always ask what their on-time delivery performance is for the type of assembly you are sourcing.

Finally, supplier ownership and financial stability is key for a prospective supplier producing a critical piece of your project. Why take the risk of having your supplier potentially struggle to buy parts and raw materials for your assembly; or even worse, suspend operations altogether leaving you at square one. Nobody wants to be in this position so make sure you check out your prospective supplier’s financial credentials before entering into a contract.

It’s not as easy as you might think to choose a supplier to manufacture your customer cable assembly. Make certain you do your due diligence. This will allow you to make the appropriate selection for a supplier perfect for your project. Although this may take some time up front, it is far better to take the time to learn rather than suffer the consequences of poor judgement after it’s too late.

Interested in what we do? Click the button below to see our custom assembly capabilities. 

See Our Custom Capabilities

 

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Topics: custom cables

Your Paint Line is Unique, Ground It Accordingly!

Posted by Tim Ulshafer on Aug 24, 2017 11:58:22 AM

Paint lines come in many shapes and sizes incorporating a wide range of paintable substrates. Some paint lines require large grounding assemblies to carry current while others are short light weight items used to provide a simple ground. Grounding metal is different than grounding fiberglass or plastics. The one thing in common is, everybody wants their paint line to produce high quality output with high percentages of transfer efficiency with low defects. In short, everyone wants their paint job to look great!

We all know that paint lines need too be grounded but since no line is the same where do you go to get the solid ground connection you need in the configuration your paint line will accommodate? GOOD NEWS, options exist for all grounding applications! When speaking to a supplier of grounding solutions you will need to be ready to provide the following:

  •  Your paint application, what and how are you painting?
  • What component of the process are you trying to improve?
    • Transfer Efficiency?
    • Output aesthetics?
    • Safety?
    • Costs?
  • What grounding practices have you been using?
  • What do your carriers look like?
    • Provide photos of you carriers and paint line
  • What does your cleaning process entail?
  • Are you looking for permanent or once and done solutions?
  • Do you have a budget for the upgrade that needs to be adhered to?

With this information a potential solution can be formulated.Once an initial solution is ready a sample package is created and forwarded for testing. After enough data is collected, feedback is provided to the supplier for approval or design modifications. If modifications are required, a new sample package will be created and forwarded again for testing. This process continues until a solid grounding solution is identified and agreed upon. Once the design is approved by the paint line manager a quote will be provided based upon expected usage. A blanket order is usually the best way to keep the new grounding assemblies flowing when needed and your paint line well grounded.

Mueller Electric has been providing customer paint line grounding assemblies to paint line managers for years. Below are some of the examples of the unique custom designs that shave been created to deliver pinpoint grounding solutions for a multitude of paint environments.    
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For more information on grounding, read our whitepaper on Static Electricity and Grounding in Industry.

Topics: Paint Line Grounding

Is Your Metal Paint Line Built from the "Ground" Up?

Posted by Tim Ulshafer on Apr 14, 2017 1:31:52 PM

If you are a paint line manager or engineer you already know that building and maintaining a paint line is no small task. It is also a very costly initiative and the more money spent the higher the expectations for quality production. A major portion of the ongoing cost of a paint line is the paint itself and many paint engineers spend countless hours on improving transfer efficiency. Let's face it, any paint that doesn't land on its target is wasteful and costly.

Whether you are painting large chassis, frames, vehicle bodies, doors or any other type of metal objects the need for a consistently high quality paint output has become the expectation and of course a great challenge. Manufacturers of automobiles, trucks, buses, motorcycles and off-road vehicles have their paint managers busy in improving paint quality around the clock. We can all agree, in today's competitive environment, consumers buy what catches their eye and a great paint job is where it all starts. To maximize paint quality many paint managers and engineers focus on the type of paint application being used, others focus on the paint itself, while others may focus on the paint room environment. Few, however, tend to consider proper grounding to be part of their equation.

Grounding, although not a glamorous subject, may be one of the main reasons why your paint transfer efficiency is not as high as you would like not to mention your output not achieving your expectations of high quality. This may be especially true when painting objects previously coated with a strong undercoat or primer designed to prevent against road wear and the elements. The questions that beg to be asked is, is there an appropriate ground with the object to be painted? Is there a grounding system in place? If so, is it working? That carrier your paint target is sitting on may not be providing the strong ground you think it is!

The good news is, there are solutions to these issues. Mueller Electric provides custom high quality cost effective grounding assemblies for every type of paint line application. These custom assemblies can range from a simple stainless steel wire rope with clips on each end to more sophisticated solutions with quick disconnect capabilities in addition to more permanent solutions with lugs to insure a hard fastened connection to ground. Every application is unique and Mueller can, and does, provide the required solutions. Mueller also makes a ground strength detection meter to insure you have a solid ground before the paint is applied. To read more about Mueller's solutions please download out free guide on Grounding Metals for Painting below.

                                                       Free Guide Grounding Metals  for Painting

 

For more information on grounding, read our whitepaper Static Electricity and Grounding in Industry