The Cost of Doing Nothing

Often times, the cost of doing nothing is much higher than the cost of routine preventative maintenance – this is also the case in most distribution centers. Let’s do the math.

Starting out with a very conservative estimate of 6,000 packages per hour (at $5 apiece) on one conveyor belt equates to an operational maintenance value of $30,000 per hour. What happens when something breaks?

Time is Money.

circuitSomething as simple as a circuit breaker trip, a problem resolved with a quick 15 minute reset, can cost you up to $7,500 based on the example above. If this quick-fix doesn’t get you back online, replacing the breaker is your next option. Depending on the configuration of your panel, this can take up to 45 minutes (not including shipping/delivery time) costing you $22,500, and must be concluded with a Lock Out Tag Out program to avoid injury. Neither of these options are viable without having the proper replacement breaker in stock at your facility. Delivery and installation of a new breaker after ordering with expedited shipping can take up to 4 hours, a cost of $120,000 for your building.

Sometimes, the problem lies within the panel, often a short circuit or grounding malfunction, causing the entire panel to need replacing. This process takes up to 3 days, or a cost of $720,000. Alas, there is a silver lining to this situation. These incidents are easily avoided with a Preventative Maintenance program from ecs. Panel, Transformer, Low Voltage, and Medium Voltage maintenance programs clean out all dust and debris from equipment that can cause overheating and shorts as well as exercising all the moving parts like breakers and disconnects so they work properly when you need them most. Routine Infrared studies can show loose connections and possible arcing inside live equipment without putting anyone in danger or shutting down the equipment. Often included in our Infrared (IR) studies is a code compliance check.  The electrical code gets an update every 3 years.  Sometimes items that were code compliant when they were installed would no longer be if inspected today.

The Status Quo is Changing

The world is changing at an alarming pace for distribution centers.  More online shopping daily, more types of cost of doing nothingproducts, and expedited delivery time means more automation, conveyance, robots, powered lifts, and electric forklifts.  All of this equates to more power needs.  So, how much capacity does your building have?  How much can you add?  How much have you changed already in recent years? How much will it cost?

We  at ecs know you are going to be making improvements to your systems.  All of them.  Some of those systems also require code compliance testing annually, semi-annually, or even more often. We offer subcontractor management for construction, maintenance and break fix including fire alarm and sprinkler system testing and a 24/7 emergency line handled directly by our in- house staff. We also offer a merged approach to all fire alarm and sprinkler system testing to reduce the impact on your building by putting all code compliance contractors on site at one time.  This sounds like it could be a headache for staff, but we provide on site supervision and management to minimize cost, building risk and staff involvement.

Can You Afford to Wait?

Our primary focus is distribution centers so we know your buildings and operations. Your job, is our business – our goal is maximizing your uptime, and cutting your operational costs with routine preventative maintenance. Contact us today for more information on how ecs can save you time and money.

5 Reasons Emergency Fire Service is a Necessity

Choosing a long-term fire protection company can be a difficult and often confusing process. Knowing what types of systems your facility has and what the functions of those systems is can be tricky – not to mention people get nervous when the terms compliance, liability, and life-safety are thrown around. It is not a surprise that most facility managers want to delegate any responsibility in relation to their fire protection systems out of their role. To know what the right choice is for your facility. Partnering with a fire protection provider that offers 24-hour emergency has many benefits and is essential to having not only a safe facility, but a facility that avoids downtime.

1. Total Asset Protection
If something goes wrong or fails within your system there is an immediate risk to your building, personnel and other assets. The hope is that your fire protection system is in a constant normal condition. Emergencies can happen at any time, even in the middle of the night. Emergencies not only affect the performance of your fire protection system they can also cause damage to your assets. If you have a pipe burst, you are not going to want to go through the headache of trying to find the right people to fix the pipe, only to wait on repairs while water is damaging your property. Having a skilled and responsive 24/7 fire protection service provider will keep your facility protected and operational at the most critical of events.

2. Overcome the Unexpectedfire safety

Most facility managers will tell you that operations don’t always go smoothly. Life happens. Even with strict preventative maintenance plans and regular testing and inspections of the buildings fire systems, emergencies still occur. Expect the unexpected. If you have a pipe burst, alarm set off, leaking sprinklers, or a sprinkler freeze-up, you’ll want a fire protection service provider that can help address all of these issues.

3. One Source System & Facility Familiarity
In an emergency, you will want the situation addressed as quickly and efficiently as possible. Your fire protection system is most likely made up of more than one type of system. Not every fire protection contractor may be skilled in or able to make the repairs across different systems. Having a one source fire protection service provider provides the expertise it takes to make sure the right technician is sent for repairs. When your fire protection service provider is also the company you call for emergency service, they will already be familiar with your system and facility.

4. Holiday Service
Your fire protection system is not going to wait for a convenient time to start causing issues. If an emergency problem happens on a holiday, an emergency fire protection provider can address the issue in a timely manner. In many parts of the country, the holiday season often brings about inclement weather. It is during the winter when your fire sprinkler systems can freeze up. If your system freezes up, you’ll want it to address it right away, even if it’s during the holidays!

5. Peace of Mind with 24 Hour Support
As stated previously, facility fire protection is an important but challenging responsibility for any facility manager/owner. Choosing to work with a fire protection contractor that offers 24-hour emergency service gives you the peace of mind knowing who you should call if something goes wrong with your fire protection system, at any time of day.

fire inspection24-Hour Emergency Service with ecs
ecs provides emergency fire protection service to help resolve unexpected issues with your fire protection systems. Whether an alarm is set off accidentally, a pipe freezes, or someone takes out a sprinkler head ecs is ready to assist your facility. Give us a call and we will send one of our partners to your location as quickly as possible. We have an emergency response team that is on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year to help protect lives, property and assets – reach out to us for more information.

What Basic Electrical PPE Do Electricians Need?

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has a criteria for general Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) for electricians working within areas where there is live electrical sources and general electrical environments.  While there are manyppedifferent types of these electrical environments such as overheard power lines, energized equipment, and large facility power systems which require higher levels of protection, this blog will cover your basic electrician PPE.


  1. Hardhats:

Non-conductive hardhats shall be worn when whenever there is a danger of head injury from electric shock or burns due to contact with live parts or from flying objects resulting from an electrical explosion.

  1. Safety Glasses:

Employees shall wear PPE for the eyes whenever there is a danger of injury from electric work where an object could end up coming in contact with their eyes. Non-conductive safety glasses or goggles are to be worn.

  1. Clothing:

There are a number of different electrical environments that require different levels of clothing protection, but for the majority of electricians the following will cover your basic electrician needs.

  • Electrician Pants and Shirts – Fire Rated, lightweight, breathable, and durable.
  • Safety Vests – High Visibility / Reflective
  • Foot Protection and work boots
    1. Soles with electrical isolation.
    2. Water-resistant upper.
    3. Protected Toe Caps.
    4. Slip-resistance soles.
  • Belts – Belts must be made of non-conductive materials such as leather or FR rated nylon with a buckle made of heavy duty plastic.

What additional Protection might be required when working on larger systems or projects?electrical ppe

There are some electrical environments where additional protection may be required by the specific project.  They include the following.

  • Hearing Protection – is required when working in the arc flash boundary which a determined radius of energized pieces of electrical equipment. Hearing protective inserts are used to protect the employee in the event of an arc blast.  The sound pressure level of an arc flash incident could exceed 140 decibels.
  • Hand Protection
    1. Employees shall wear rubber-insulation gloves and properly sized leather protectors where there is a danger of hand or arm injuries due to contact with live parts or possible exposure to arc flash burn.
    2. Rubber gloves are used for shock protection. Rubber gloves must be tested after each use if not worn with leather protectors.

Depending on the job task to be performed, Personal Protection Equipment for the electric power industry generally includes safety glasses, face shields, hard hats, safety shoes, insulating (rubber) gloves with leather protectors, insulating sleeves, and flame-resistant (FR) clothing as mentioned above.  Be sure to fully understand the requirements of each electrical job and what PPE is required for any larger jobs or any job requirements for safety such as fall protection and higher levels of energy in each environment for additional electrical PPE.

What is a Construction Change Order?

Congratulations, your company has been awarded a major construction project.  All your hard work in the preconstruction phase has paid off, and it should be smooth sailing from the initial notice-to-proceed through substantial completion.  In a perfect world, this would be the case. In reality, few planning stones are left unturned after theconstruction change construction contract is signed, and a change order must be added.  On average, 65% of all projects valued over $250,000 experience a minor change order and 35% of these projects experience a major change order. On the new fast-track project delivery method, where design is still on-going after contracting signing, expect change orders as a common occurrence. Implementing a tracking system to keep up with the ongoing design may be beneficial.

Change Orders in Construction

A change order is work that is added or deleted from the original scope of work of a contract, which in turn, alters the original contract amount and/or completion date.

Types of Change Order

Common Reasons

Change in Scope of Project Tenant agency has requested a design change
Unforeseen Conditions Site conditions differ from the expected.
Professional Errors and Omissions Requested by contractor or professionals
Errors Errors in construction design plans and specifications
Omissions Omission of an item or element from the plan

Staying ahead is important, primarily for your project budget and to meet the Owner’s completion date.  Letting these slip can plunge your project financially by not covering additional cost as they come as well as paying for owner liquidated damages by not completing a project before deadline.

How to Process a Change Order

Prepare Upfront:

Make sure that the change order process is clearly outlined in the construction contract.  This will give your client clear expectations how change of scope situations will be handled and no surprises arise. Not having verbiage in the original contact and specifying what happens as changes come up can lead to disagreements and tension.

Notification of Change:

The first step is to notify the owner or general contractor when a likely change in scope is identified.  Typically, this is written on letterhead as an RFI (request for information) and addressed to the responsible party.  From there the responsible party will pass the RFI onto engineering parties or the client to answer the question.  Clear direction is given after an RFI is answered and any change in scope can be determined after that.

What to Include

  • Date and party the change order is being addressed too
  • Itemized list of all that is included in the change order and change of scope
  • Breakout cost of labor, material, equipment, overhead
  • Change in contract value
  • Change in contract time
  • Signatures from both parties

No Changes are to Proceed Until Approved

Time and time again, there is pressure to complete a project on time and to keep your schedule.  A majority of clients know a change is in process, but will still pushconstruction changeto keep work on track.  This practice puts project managers between a rock and a hard place at times. It is important that you understand not proceed with the change order work without your client’s approval and signature.

Tracking & Staying on Task

Depending on the size and complexity of your project, an excel log or software program will greatly help in tracking the status of change orders.  Tracking will also help determine overall project material needs, manpower needs, electrical equipment, rental equipment, milestone dates, and final completion dates.  All of these components play a part of the project schedule and being proactive with them keeps the project duration from slipping.

Having a dedicated Estimator assigned to a fast track the construction project will help keep up withplanning the change orders as the drawing re-visions come off the press (or electronic transfers, keeping the environment in mind).  Some new facility fast track projects are known to have one 100+ drawing revisions, which in turn equal 100+ change orders.  Then there is the other 100+ change orders from all the rework created by previous work already in place.

Change Orders Are a Necessity

The key to all successful projects is great communication between the contractor and their client.  By communicating the change order expectations to your client before a construction contract is signed, your project has a greater percentage of being out of the negative zone during project execution.

Change orders are generally looked upon by clients negatively as it impacts their budget. To make them more positive, clearly communicate to the owner what caused the change order and work with them on different options that will fit the project budget. When a total project duration is increased by a change, become creative and look for ways to shorten project duration without increasing cost.

Anticipate for changes to happen.  Instead of taking a defensive approach, be proactive and get out in front of them before they become an issue.  With a systematic approach frustration is reduced of the dreaded change order and the construction crew is able to work more effectively when the unknown happens.

Managing Your Distribution Center’s Electrical Asset Lifecycle

Electrical Asset Management is the process of managing the performance and longevity of your electrical distribution system in order to maximize safety, uptime, and equipment life in your distribution center.  The goal is to keep your people safe and production lines operational.  By monitoring your electrical system’s health, you can replace components before they fail so you can stay powered, productive, and profitable.

Distribution Centers face tremendous challenges with tracking and maintaining the various assets associated with your complex facility infrastructure.  These massive buildings include numerous types of systems with unique maintenance schedules and protocols.  Modern facilities have robust conveyance and automation systems that need constant attention while older facilities have aging systems that are always breaking down.  Some have both!  It is almost impossible for facility managers and maintenance engineers to keep the complicated production systems working and provide regular maintenance for the building’s electrical system.  However, there is NO production if your electrical system fails.

electrical asset lifecycle

Electrical Asset Lifecycle: Equipment is replaced or repaired prior to End of Life

Electrical Asset Management programs will help you stay operational by keeping your systems operating effectively and safely.  Proven electrical asset management programs will include:

  • Experienced Distribution Center and Warehouse Service Providers who know how to navigate your large facility, production schedules, and limited maintenance windows.
  • Consistent, ongoing, network wide electrical maintenance services including:
  • Arc Flash Analysis for safety
  • Selective Coordination/Breaker Settings for uptime
  • Infrared Scans for proper connections and thermal anomalies
  • Cleaning and Inspecting gear and electrical equipment
  • Exercising and Testing Breakers and Switches
  • Generator and UPS maintenance and testing
  • Medium Voltage maintenance and testing
  • Detailed report for each maintenance program including scope, findings and photos
  • All issues found during the scheduled maintenance programs shall be documented and promptly corrected
  • Guaranteed 24x7x365 Emergency response from qualified electricians
  • Electrical Safety Training including PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) and LOTO (Lock-out Tag-out)
  • Leverage technology to monitor electrical system health using predictive analytics to detect and correct issues before failures occur
  • Recommendations for system improvements and replacements to maximize safety and uptime based on system performance and service records
  • Instant, accessible reports and data on your systems with easy to understand at-a-glance metrics keeping you in compliance with ongoing requirements

electrical maintenance

Electrical Power Systems in your warehouse are designed to provide safe, reliable power when properly maintained.  However, years of around the clock use, environmental factors, and lack of maintenance will have an impact on the electrical equipment’s performance.  Improper electrical maintenance can lead to costly, unexpected outages and risk of safety incidents.

Protect What Matters Most – People, Production, and Profit.  Implementing an Electrical Asset Management program will increase your electrical system’s reliability and enhance personnel safety which both contribute to your company’s bottom line.  Let ecs help you develop your customized program that will add value to your organization.  We take the time to understand every inch of your facility to proactively recommend an approach that mitigates equipment failure and unplanned downtime.

For over 90 years ecs, a division of Parsons Electric, has been designing, building, and servicing distribution centers and warehouses, providing electrical, fire, and arc flash services to protect what matters most to you. We service over 150 million square feet of distribution center space across the nation each year providing preventative maintenance, compliance and peace of mind that your people, property, processes, production and profit are in good hands. Our job is your business.