Poultry switchboard failures – top 3 causes

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The likelihood of a poultry switchboard failure can be significantly reduced by insisting on high quality standards in the first place, and ongoing careful management.

1. Poultry switchboard fires

Although rare, a fire in a poultry switchboard can have potentially catastrophic consequences for the shed or even the entire farm. Tens of thousands of birds can be wiped out and millions of dollars of damage caused by a large shed fire.

What causes fires?
Most poultry switchboard fires originate from outside the switchboard. External events including bushfires, equipment fires and ignition of chemical sources or flammable materials inside the shed or control room can all lead to switchboard damage and subsequent failure.
Internally, cabling issues including loose connections, undersized or poor quality cabling can result in sparks and potential fires, as can poor quality, undersized or non-compliant components. A board professionally built and installed to Australian Standards will generally have a much lower risk of an internal fire.
A board that is non-compliant to Australian Standards poses a significant risk to a poultry farm.

2. Poultry switchboard component failure

Failure of a single switchgear component is not generally critical: shed ventilation and temperature requirements can often still be met even with some equipment unavailable. Failure of the climate controller itself can be critical, particularly if the farm manager is not immediately available to switch the shed equipment into manual mode.

What causes component failure?
Almost any type of equipment is subject to failure at any time. The most common contributing factors are the quality and the age of the components. By selecting quality equipment with a proven track record of reliability, the risk can be greatly reduced.

In addition, insisting on standard types of components that are readily available and can be easily swapped out (for example, 22mm LED indicators and switches) can allow a fast replacement of failed components for minimum downtime.

Using proprietary equipment or ‘no-name’ Asian components significantly increases the risk of component failure.

3. Poultry switchboard dust issues

Poultry sheds are inherently dusty environments, and dust can be an insidious hazard to electrical equipment. It can jam moving parts such as switches and relays, and lead to impaired cooling of components, resulting in overheating issues that can cripple a switchboard.

What can be done about dust?

The risk of dust issues can be greatly reduced by keeping rubber door seals in working order, and keeping the cabinet doors shut and secured at all times. Ensure your board builder is using known reputable industry brands of switchgear and operator controls for maximum reliability.

A control room that is not kept relatively clean of dirt and dust greatly increases the risk of board failure.


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