Forensic Engineering Investigation of Electrical and Electronic Causes of an Industrial Equipment Failure
Keywords:Forensic Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Electronic Engineering, Troubleshooting, Investigating, Industrial Equipment, Power Routing, Grounding, National Electrical Code, NEC, Neutral, Bonding
This case involved industrial equipment whose repeated, seemingly random failures resulted in the buyer of that equipment suing the seller. The failures had been isolated to a group of several transistors within electro-mechanical modules within the equipment, but the root cause of those transistors failing had not been determined. The equipment seller had more than 1,000 units in the field with no similar failures. And the electro-mechanical module manufacturer had more than 20,000 units in the field with no similar failures. Electrical contractors hired by the buyer had measured power quality, and reported no faults found in the three-phase power at the equipment terminals. This paper presents circuit analyses of the failing electro-mechanical module, basics of electrostatic discharge damage and protection, and the root cause of these failures — an electrical code-violating extraneous neutral-to-ground bond in a secondary power cabinet.
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