Automated Packaging Machine Electrical Tips
Today I’d like to address the confusion between electrical plug types used on automated machines in our industry. The National Electric Code states that 15 and 20 amp circuits (at a nominal 120 volts) may not have a load of more than 80%. That means that a 15 amp circuit may only have a maximum load of 12 amps (1440 watts) and a 20 amp circuit may only have a maximum load of 16 amps (1920 watts.) This rule is in place to reduce the possibility of fire and personal injury.
I’ve seen many Fromm AirPad machines returned to our facility that have had their neutral blade bent to a vertical position. Even though it would appear that it’s fully inserted into the wall receptacle, upon closer inspection you will notice that it doesn’t fit flush and may not have 100% contact. This could lead to a high resistance connection that would increase the amp draw, produce excessive heat, and, if the circuit breaker was old and didn’t trip or the distance from the receptacle to the breaker panel was excessive, it may cause a fire.
I’ve been at numerous customers’ facilities throughout the years, and as some of you know, they are notorious for running extension cords to equipment. This has two inherent issues:
- The cord has a 15 amp configuration (two parallel blades)
- Small gauge wire (usually 16 gauge) used at an extended length causing severe voltage drop and higher amp draw.
Customers may also may have outdated wiring/receptacles in their facilities. I’m sure that’s why we see the ground prong removed causing an unsafe condition. It’s very important to impress upon all users that, if you are running a Fromm AirPad machine, Signode Strapping Machine, or any piece of equipment, make sure it has a DEDICATED 20 amp receptacle for it to run properly and, most importantly, to protect the user’s or employee’s safety.