ROMAC PCI Switchboard Retrofit Helps Keep West-Coast Amusement Park Turnstiles Turning
November 11, 2011 (Commerce, CA) -- A major West Coast amusement park needed to upgrade three 800-A switchboards that served the front gate office and a nearby exhibit to meet higher available interrupt current (AIC) ratings and bus bracing ratings as a result of a nearby substation upgrade. But replacement parts for the 1950s-era switchboards were getting harder to find. To make the challenge even more difficult, the switchboards needed to fit in the same closet-sized room as the older gear and handle widely varying loads caused by the nearby exhibit’s hydraulics and motors cycling on and off throughout the day.
After trying all the major OEMs and major distributors, the electrical contractor on the project contacted ROMAC Power Controls Inc. (PCI) division, maker of custom switchgear. ROMAC PCI’s design engineers suggested a complete interior retrofit using the existing UL-listed BullDog enclosures, but with a completely new interior based around new solid-state Cutler-Hammer circuit breakers, new bus, and all associated brackets and conductors. The final solution met the customer’s higher AIC and bus bracing ratings, space, and load requirements while improving available circuit protection and worker safety by replacing older analog breakers with modern solid-state trip units.
“Every smart electrical customer faced with replacing older switchgear knows that a retrofit can save them money, space, time or all of the above -- but their insurance companies rightly insist that all electrical equipment carry a UL listing,” explains Robin Burns, Inside Sales Supervisor at ROMAC. “Only an OEM with a UL 891 special extension can replace a switchboard or panelboard interior and UL list that interior without compromising the UL listing on the cabinet. The contractor had explored the possibility of setting new gear to the outside of the exhibit using a major manufacturer’s standard designed gear, because that was the only solution any major manufacturer could provide. That idea was quickly rejected by park personnel because they had already tried to mount other panels into that outdoor area for another purpose, but parade floats had struck those items on several occasions, damaging both the panels and the floats.” The only reasonable option available was to use a manufacturer who could custom fit new UL listed interiors into the existing switchboard enclosures.
“ROMAC PCI specializes in custom-designed switchgear and retrofits,” adds David Rosenfield, President of ROMAC. “So we were able to reuse the Bulldog cabinet while creating an entirely new bus chassis that allowed for the installation of higher-rated breakers mounted on new epoxy stand-off insulators, including new line-side lug landing terminations, new cabinet trim and dead fronts that met all the customers needs. This particular contractor regularly comes to us with custom design needs like this. OEMs don’t provide this service or generally have the UL 891 special extension because it requires on-site measuring, engineering and support.”
Substation upgrades due to local growth are not uncommon and can cause serious problems for local businesses. In this case, the switchboard AIC requirements increased from 10,000 Amps to 65,000 Amps. Under Ohms law, the AIC value increases as supply voltages increase, assuming impedance, which is partially dictated by the size of the conduit and distance between switchboard and substation, remains constant. In other words: If your nearby substation expands, but doesn’t move farther away, chances are you need to rethink the AIC ratings for your local switchgear.
“ROMAC PCI’s ability to design UL-listed switchgear interiors and provide engineering design and support for custom switchgear retrofits are what sold the customer,” Burns explains. “We see this regularly in California’s growing number of mobile home parks, as well as school districts and hospitals nationwide where electricians often have to increase their gear’s AIC rating, but don’t have extra space to add a new gear.”
Based out of Commerce, California, ROMAC’s 240,000-sq-ft facility has one of the nation’s largest inventories of custom, new, and surplus electrical products. ROMAC and its OEM subsidiaries – ROMAC Power Controls, Inc. (PCI), ROMAC Power Technologies, and ROMAC Hardware Resource Company (HRC) – offer a complete line of new and replacement electrical apparatus, from power-generating equipment through distribution, controls, and motors, as well as custom design, engineering, fabrication, and testing. ROMAC is a proud member of NEMA, NETA, AFE, EGSA, NDA, and IEEE, ROMAC is a founding member of the Professional Electrical Apparatus Recyclers League (PEARL), a standards development organization dedicated to the safe reconditioning of industrial electrical equipment and components. For more information, visit ROMAC’s website at www.romacsupply.com, or call 1-800-77-ROMAC.