Circuit Breaker Analyzer Inc. has introduced an application for iPhone or iPod capable of capturing vibration signatures from working circuit breakers to provide quantifiable data for computerized maintenance management systems (CMMS) and other preventive maintenance programs.

“Most circuit breaker failures are due to mechanical failures,” explains Finley Ledbetter, president of GroupCBS and Circuit Breaker Analyzer Inc. “Today, industrial circuit breakers are tested using time-travel analysis [TTA] and visual-mechanical inspections [VMI]. However, these tests take considerable downtime and expense, increase breaker wear and put the technician at risk of arc flash. Now, with an iPhone or iPod running the Circuit Breaker Analyzer application, maintenance personnel of any experience level can capture vibration data and compare it to known vibration signatures to determine whether there is a hidden mechanical failure. And do it with greater safety and frequency than TTA and VMI tests alone.”

Using the accelerometer inside every iPhone or new model iPod, the Circuit Breaker Analyzer captures vibration data in all three axes as well as across time at sample rates of 100 to 400 Hz, depending on the version. Both sample rates provide ample data to for a detailed vibration signature for later analysis of potential mechanical faults inside the circuit breaker. By comparing the newly acquired vibration signature to a database of known good profiles (KGPs) and/or the vibration signature of the breaker’s “first trip” operation, pattern recognition algorithms can determine when changes in the “envelope” or shape of the vibration signature indicate a hidden mechanical problem that will eventually lead to breaker failure if left unchecked.

The Circuit Breaker Analyzer is designed for use by technicians with any level of experience and costs a fraction of standard electrical test equipment. After starting the application, the operator keys in the type of circuit breaker under test. This brings up a picture of the breaker that shows the technician where to attach the iPhone or iPod, using adhesive magnets that ship with the Circuit Breaker Analyzer app. This helps to guarantee an “apples to apples” comparison with stored KGPs and eliminate false tests. The app also comes with built-in level indicators to make sure the iPhone or iPod is positioned correctly for testing. The app can also be used in conjunction with remote switching devices, such as the CBS ArcSafe product line remote racking system, for added protection against arc flash injuries.

After the test is finished, the tester presses the stop button and the vibration data is saved on the device and wirelessly sent to a central database of the user’s choosing. Internal condition-based maintenance algorithms (CBMA) compare the vibration envelope to known good profiles for that make of breaker, and identify variances that indicate an internal mechanical problem or wear.