GE Introduces Exclusive ArcWatch* Technology, Industrys First to Enable Simultaneous Safety and Reliability for Electrical Systems
October 29, 2013
By Canadian Consulting Engineer
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Oct. 14, 2013 — Providing always-on, full-time, simultaneous safety and reliability, GE’s Industrial Solutions business (NYSE: GE) announced the availability of its innovative and exclusive ArcWatch circuit breaker communication technology. ArcWatch is the industry’s first technology to enable an electrical system design that helps to maximize selectivity, or uptime, while simultaneously providing continuous arc-flash mitigation protection. GE is highlighting its ArcWatch technologies at the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) Convention taking place Oct. 12–15 in Washington, D.C.
Other arc-flash mitigating technologies provide protection with part-time or manual user activation, which creates a mode of either safety or reliability (selectivity), but not both at the same time. Containment arc-flash mitigation systems primarily redirect it away from the operator to “enclose” the impact. These systems also are part-time or manual where human intervention can inadvertently negate their design. Before now, available technologies required a compromised solution of either/or in regards to safety and reliability, and while they could provide both within the same electrical system design, they could not do so at the same time. GE’s industry-leading ArcWatch technology by design provides full-time, automatic, always-on protection and reliability for people, property and equipment.
Time is crucial in an arc-flash incident, and the ArcWatch technology from GE works through a combination of communication algorithms across the GE portfolio of circuit breakers by using instantaneous zone selective interlocking (I-ZSI) and waveform recognition (WFR) to ensure only the circuit breakers nearest to the fault trip, which happens in as little as 4 milliseconds. This limits the incident energy in the event of an arc flash, protecting both people and equipment.
“Safety is crucial to electrical contractors when working on live equipment,” said Tim Ford, global molded case circuit breaker product manager, GE’s Industrial Solutions business. “In the past, increased safety meant decreased selectivity, but when servicing a high-demand client, uptime is critical. With GE’s ArcWatch technology, users no longer have to compromise between safety and reliability but can now greatly enhance both.”
As a real-world example, consider a high-demand, metropolitan hospital complex with 24/7 emergency room, operating rooms, an intensive care unit and patient rooms. Uptime is crucial in this situation, and medical professionals need to be able to count on the reliability of the electrical system to save lives. If trouble-shooting or maintenance work needs to be done on the electrical system, often it will be when the system is live, so the safety during those times for the contractor or operator working on the systems is also of utmost importance. Full-time, always-on ArcWatch technology means that the system is always selectively optimized for reliability so that if a patient in Room 101 drops a hair dryer in a sink full of water, the circuit breaker for that room will trip to protect that patient from shock, but power will not be lost in the entire wing of the hospital. In addition, the electrical contractor working on an energized system can be protected without requiring human intervention to change modes from reliability to safety or vice versa and also without jeopardizing the system coordination that protects the patient in room 101, while maintaining power to rest of the hospital if a contractor is working on the system.
Systems embedded with ArcWatch technology reduce the impact of an arc-flash event to <8 cal/cm2, resulting in much lower requirements for using personal protective equipment. The use of fire-resistant clothing instead of a full-protective arc-flash suit makes it easier for electrical contractors to work with their hands, allowing for better functionality and safety.
ArcWatch-enabled circuit breaker families from GE include EntelliGuard*, Record Plus* and Spectra RMS* series. The recently launched PremEon* S trip unit used in conjunction with the Record Plus platform is an advanced electronic trip unit that provides higher levels of accuracy for selective ratings without compromising safety, especially during maintenance operations. PremEon S also eliminates rating plugs for jobsite simplicity and adjustability.
Additionally, in the family of ArcWatch-enabled technologies, GE recently introduced enhancements to the EntelliGuard trip unit to simplify the in-the-field energy management and user interface with more detailed and unique diagnostic information for circuit breaker maintenance cost reduction. Other enhancements include testing capabilities that enable users to verify and ensure superior ArcWatch performance. Patent-pending technology that is now available with the latest release of EntelliGuard trip unit provides even more sensitive protection to further mitigate an arc flash by reducing the time to respond without compromising selective coordination capabilities.
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