System Integration & Control Systems Design

PSY Systems - Arc guide stops burn

May 2014 System Integration & Control Systems Design

An ABB arc guide system installed on a motor control centre (MCC) panel by PSY Systems prevented an expensive plant shutdown for one of the company’s clients.

It was during the installation process that a cable arced unexpectedly. Ordinarily such an incident would ignite the wiring within the panel and continue burning as the current flowed from the upstream power supply. This would not only result in the destruction of the panel, but also put the entire plant at risk of an electrical fire. Even if the damage were only confined to the MCC itself, the complete system would have to be shut down until it could be replaced, a process that could take anything up to six weeks and cost the client both in downtime as well as equipment repair and replacement.

In this case, however, the arc guide installed into the panel shut off the mains supply within 1,5 ms, preventing damage to the panel. The arc guide features an unshielded fibre optic sensor capable of detecting the intense light created by a developing arc anywhere in the panel. The unit’s hardwired shunt trip provides millisecond reaction time to arcs, shutting the system down.

The ABB arc guide is a flexible solution consisting of a central unit that can be used either in a standalone configuration or linked to other main and extension modules. In addition to two high-speed insulated gate bipolar transistor outputs for circuit breaker tripping purposes, the unit also incorporates a heavy duty relay output that can be used either as a circuit breaker failure protection or as an alarm output.

Paul Young, managing director for PSY Systems: “It was fortunate for the client to have the arc guide system installed. This particular incident could have cost the client R500 000 for a new MCC panel as well as losses in production due to shutdown. Now, all that was required was the replacement of the arc guide and a cleanup of the panel.”

PSY Systems, an ABB channel partner, provides process control and machine safety solutions for a broad spectrum of industry from iron and steel, food and beverage, milling and sugar to manufacturing, chemical, water and waste.

For more information contact Paul Young, PSY Systems, +27 (0)11 782 5449,,

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