One of, if not the most, significant contributors to our understanding of electrical energy and how it can be utilized has to be Nickolai Tesla. His discoveries in AC generation, radio transmission, and wireless power are foundations for much of the power and communications networks and systems that we still use today. While attempting to demystify electricity for the public, Tesla would give demonstrations where he would perform high voltage arcing. To laymen seeing electricity flowing into someone’s body probably seemed quite dangerous, yet Tesla was unharmed. This was possible since he was using high voltages with low currents, which is the underlying concept for the high voltage power transmission grid system we use today.
High voltage arcing between wires
High voltages are not the only found across transmission lines. Actually, most structures, whether residential, commercial, or industrial, are connected to high voltage distribution networks. Industrial facilities, however, are supplied by higher and a wider range of voltages. Employees in these environments are also more likely to work near high voltage equipment and systems. Therefore, safety is a major concern and high voltage power supply regulatory requirements exist to minimize the possibility of injury. Let’s take a look at these standards, but first, let’s see how high voltage power supplies are used in industrial facilities.
Supplying High Voltage Power in Industrial Facilities
Typical voltages supplied to factories from the grid range from approximately 208VAC to over 1kVAC, although specific levels may be higher. These levels may then be customized by linear or switch-mode power supplies and converters to meet internal equipment and system requirements. These may be categorized based on application, as follows.
Industrial High Voltage Applications
- Production equipment
This includes assembly lines, packaging equipment, and other systems directly involved product manufacturing.
Today, virtually all factories employ robotics to some degree to add speed and precision to their operations. This may include cobots, which are collaborative robots that can typically perform higher level functions comparable to a human.
- Computing, IT and AV equipment
In today’s smart factories, computers and peripherals are essential elements for gathering, processing, displaying and transmitting data and information.
- Safety Instrumented System (SIS) equipment
SIS systems perform essential safety alerts and system management activities. For example, E/E/PE systems assigned to shut down equipment, if necessary, based upon its safety integrity level (SIL).
In order to adequately supply the various high voltages needed for the systems that perform the applications listed above, safely, regulations are required. These are defined below.
High Voltage Power Supply Regulatory Requirements for Industrial Operations
In contrast to some product industries where there are specific regulations and standards that are not applicable outside of their domain, regulations for high voltage power supply extends into any industry where these supplies are utilized. This includes most, if not all, industrial production facilities. The most important standards to ensure that your high voltage power supply systems adhere to are listed below.
Regulations and Standards for High Voltage in Industrial Facilities
- IPC-2152 Standard for Determining Current-carrying Capacity in Printed Board Design.
This standard provides a means for determining the current capacity for PCBA traces and vias.
- IPC/WHMA-A-620 Requirements and Acceptance of Cable and Wire Harness Assemblies.
This standard governs the manufacture of cabling, wiring, and harnesses as well as their soldered connections.
- NFPA 70 National Electric Code ®.
This is the prevailing standard for electrical wiring and connectors that are used for all structures. It also covers electrical requirements in hazardous locations.
- NFPA 79 Electrical Standard for Industrial Machinery.
Applies to industrial electrical and electronic equipment and systems that operate from a source of 600V or less.
- NFPA 110 Standard for Emergency and Standby Power Systems.
This standard is limited to emergency generators held on standby in the case of contingency.
- NFPA 111 Standard on Stored Electrical Energy Emergency and Standby Power Systems.
Similar to NFPA 110, except it covers stored emergency power supply systems (SEPSS).
- IEC 62368 Audio/video, information and communication technology equipment - Part 1: Safety requirements
This standard which combines the previously used IEC-60950 and IEC-60065 into a hazard-based approach to safety for IT and AV equipment.
The degree to which the list of regulations and standards above are implemented varies by state and local municipality. However, adhering to those listed above, especially the NFPA standards, should be acceptable for most regulating bodies. Nevertheless, it is recommended to always verify the specific requirements for the area where the facility or structure will be operating.
By knowing and following the above regulatory requirements, you can be assured that your high voltage power supplies are in compliance with industrial facilities. Doing this along with instituting guidelines for optimal manufacturing for your high power, voltage, and current boards will result in high-quality, reliable and safe PCBAs for industrial applications.
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