Eaton Corp. Chooses Safety For Its Expo Focus

Eaton Corp. pursues the mission of managing power efficiently, reliably, safely and sustainably – four goals that align neatly with eChem Expo’s five focus areas of safety and environment, capability enhancement, capital effectiveness, energy efficiency, and sustainable development.

At this year’s Expo, the company could have chosen any of those areas to highlight their work with electrical, hydraulic and mechanical power, but decided to emphasize safety, said Clarke Clingenpeel, Eaton area sales manager. It happened that safety was a new focus area for this year’s Expo.

In particular, Eaton made presentations and devoted booth space to safety as it applies to the process industry, where’s there’s not much downtime, noted Chris Finen, Eaton application engineer. That varied from a line isolation safety switch on display on the exhibit floor to the risk-reduction methodology discussed in a breakout session, he said.  

“Safety innovations in our products allow maintenance personnel to do their work on energized equipment in a safer fashion,” Finen said. At Eastman Chemical Co., Eaton is providing switchgears for power distribution equipment and “a lot of safety solutions related to that,” he noted.

Clingenpeel also pointed out how easy it’s to see Eaton’s connection with Eastman by driving by the plant after dark. At night, a section of lighting that Eaton’s installed is bathing the scene in white light, opposed to another section where older lighting is still tinged with orange.

The white light brings “an improved efficiency model, safety model, morale booster… impacting the productivity of the plant,” Clingenpeel said. Work is continuing to retrofit the rest of the plant’s lighting, he said.

The benefits of the new lighting include energy savings, improved return on investment and safety, said Bill Barnette, region application specialist, sales, for Eaton’s Crouse-Hinds Division. They’re safer and less expensive to operate partly because the V-Spring Telescoping Safety Light Pole comes close enough to the ground that workers don’t need ladders or lifts to maintain them, he said.

Eaton showcased new LED fixtures with integrated controls, integrated occupancy sensing and daylight sensing for energy savings and productivity said the company’s L.W. Cantor. Studies have shown that having the right amount of light where and when it’s needed can increase worker productivity by 6 percent, he noted.

Arc flash hazard risk reduction technology has been important for Eaton for about 15 years, and the company used the Expo to present developments in that area that included a line isolation safety switch that allows access to the fuse compartment without exposure to the line side of the switch. That product has been in development for about two years and builds upon technology that has been in use for more than thirty years.

Another product featured at the Expo, an enclosed breaker with an arc flash reduction feature, was built on technology developed over the past 15 years in solid state trip units. Putting that in a box expanded on technology developed years ago.

Arc flash has been a concern since the first days of electricity but has become a buzz phrase recently because of efforts to quantify the risk to an operator of the burn effects of an internal arcing event. That has driven additional code and safety standards for safe maintenance practices. Injuries resulting in death have been more frequent in electrical work than in other trades, which has also given rise to the standards.

Standards came to Europe before the United States, and chemical companies with close ties abroad called for standards here. These days, standards continue to change and improve, the Eaton executives said.    

But some things remain the same, and Eaton continues to pride itself on integrating its products and services with existing infrastructure from other companies. “We can go in and provide a services solution regardless of what the installed base is,” said Finen. “That’s one of our value propositions that we believe we do better than anyone else.”

Looking four years into the future through eChem Expo’s Vision 2020, Eaton executives said the level of control in lighting will increase, including knowing in advance when outages will probably occur and monitoring several plant locations from a single facility. The cost of fixtures will come down as production continues.

In power distribution, the future will bring more products that will ensure safety. Trends that will continue include greater safety, higher efficiency and sustainability. In predictive analytics, devices with more built-in intelligence will monitor processes and detect anomalies before they cause an outage.

The Eaton Business System, an internal mindset of working efficiently for the benefit of customers, will bring new products and keep the company at the highest levels, the company’s executives said. It also includes sharing best practices among the company’s disparate divisions. That sharing comes through cross-training and moving experts from one division to another.

The company also uses a process-driven approach to developing products that vets products before introduction, the Eaton executives said.


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