Arc Flash Analysis: an essential factor for safety

Trace Software International announces that the elec calc™ Arc Flash module has been just released. The company possesses a  unique passion for the design of high-performance software solutions for electrical engineering since 1987.

What is an Arc Flash?

According to the NFPA 70E (the relevant standard from the National Fire Protection Association), Arc Flash is a “dangerous condition associated with the release of energy caused by an electrical arc.”

Arc flash typically occurs when the electrical insulation or isolation between live conductors is severed or can no longer withstand the applied voltage. Near the high power electrical equipment, the short-circuit power available is high and consequently so is the energy associated with the electrical arc in case of a fault.
In Europe, regulation and standardization are mainly aimed at protecting workers against the risks of direct contact during work and interventions on and near electrical installations. The risks in the case of electric arc and the means to prevent them are mentioned but not developed.

In some countries, particularly in North America, these risks are better taken into account for human, material and financial aspects, and regulations are much more stringent in this area.

The effects of the electric arc:

  • The electric arc produces intense light and heat, high noise, high overpressure
  • Heat and splashes of molten metal can cause lethal burns
  • Noise can lead to permanent or temporary hearing loss, a flash of vision disorders
  • The overpressure can open and project the doors of electrical cabinets or cause falls during work at height

In addition to personal injury, an arc flash can result in serious damage to electrical equipment. which can cause disruption to electrical systems in manufacturing and process industry environments or tertiary buildings. The cost of downtime can be considerable.

Risk assessment and arc flash analysis

There is no method of analysis and risk assessment by IEC or European standards. In contrast, the United States has the following documents:

  • NFPA 70E (Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace) takes into account all electrical risks including those due to electric arcs recommends PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) to be used depending on the level of risk
  • IEEE 1584-2002 (Guide for Performing Arc-Flash Hazard Calculations) gives the methods to calculate the incident energy in case of electric arc  and allows determining an arc flash protection boundary

 

The elec calc™ arc flash module by Trace Software International

 

elec calc™ Arc Flash module

Risk management and prevention have always been important aspects of the safety programs within the electrical industry. The correct assessment of the risk level of the arc flash can help reduce downtime and ensure a safer working environment.
The arc flash module provides the professionals of the electrical industry with a fundamental tool in the sector, as the user will be able to develop its safety analysis in the vicinity of switchboards and panels. By design, elec calc™ has almost all the data allowing the calculation of the figures of the arc flash, from which the user will be able to elaborate his security analysis near the tables and boxes.
From the operating modes described in a project, elec calc™ determines the maximum and minimum three-phase short-circuit currents that can occur on a distributor. It calculates the corresponding cut-off times of the concerned protective devices. Specific data of the equipment can be completed or modified by the user through a simple interface.
The following results are provided according to the calculation methods of the IEEE 1584-2002 guide (empirically derived model or method of Lee depending upon the characteristics of the installation):

  • The maximum incident energy at the working distance
  • The protection boundary for the boundary energy
  • The glove class (PPE) to be used to prevent the risk of electric shock (IEC 60903 and ASTM D 120)

Warning labels

elec calc™  allows the edition of the labels to be affixed on the concerned equipment or the export of the corresponding results to make possible the customization of the labels. The format of the label is consistent with the recommendations of the document NFPA 70E (edition 2018).
In addition, elec calc™ monitors the evolutions of the installation and prevents the obsolescence of previously published labels.
Trace Software International commits itself to conceive software solutions capable of guaranteeing electrical safety and system protection. More than 30 years of experience in the industrial engineering sector has allowed us to guarantee the highest standards of quality and reliability, as well as the complement of local and international regulations in terms of safety.

 

Want to know more?

Tracesoftware – Empowering electrical solutions.
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