While there is no solution that can completely eliminate the risk of arc flash hazards, there are solutions that minimize engineer, technicians and maintenance workers' exposure to such risks. Since there is a potential for an arc flash occurrence every time the electrical enclosure is opened, being able to take distributed I/O equipment out of the electrical enclosure, which may contain live voltage with sufficient energy for an arc flash event, and mount it in the field, minimizes risk exposure and ensues continued connectivity.
While flame-resistant apparel can provide workers with protection against arc flash, it can be cumbersome, time-consuming and laborious to put on. Further, engineers and maintenance workers require frequent access to distributed I/O equipment and controls, so an efficient, safe method for personnel interaction is key. Mounting equipment and controls outside the electrical enclosure enables engineers to access it without opening the enclosure. This not only ensures the same level of connectivity and communication, but also enhances operator safety.
For additional flexibility and enhanced application suitability, distributed I/O products are engineered for durability. Featuring IP ratings, such as IP65, IP67, IP68 and IP69K, these products can reliably perform in dusty, wet and harsh environments without fear of environmental ingress, with some even withstanding heavy washdown conditions and total submersion. This allows distributed I/O products to be effectively removed from the electrical enclosure and exposed to the application environment without malfunctioning, causing network faults or service interruptions. Distributed control with a sufficient IP rating can also be removed and mounted externally from the electrical enclosure significantly reducing the amount of time needed inside of the enclosure to work on the PLC. Network switches, and power supplies that carry a rating of IP67 or higher can also be removed from the electrical enclosure. Ultimately, the more components placed outside of the enclosure equals less time needed for workers to spend in the cabinet resulting in a safer environment.