How to save time and money by testing broken extension cords

Posted by Elaine McDevitt on Jun 7, 2016 7:00:00 AM

Problem:

The Company uses 50’ industrial extension cords that connect each welder to a feeder so we can move the feeders around as we work on various welding jobs.  Inside each of the newer cords is 11 wires with respective connecting pins.  Our older machines have cords with 8 wires.  When a co-worker calls maintenance because of a problem with their welder, we go out to troubleshoot the situation.  Often, the problem is a broken wire inside the extension cord. 

Each receptacle pin is labeled a, b, c, d, etc.  We would haveto test one pin at a time with the electrical tester to make sure each wire was o.k.  Many times, the test shows a broken wire.  Sometimes, the test shows that all wires are o.k. but often this turns out to be incorrect because when the wire is hot, it might show the break but once it has cooled, the wires touch again and a break cannot be detected.  John Young, our maintenance supervisor,  estimates that 9 times out of 10 times, the breaks in the wires are within 2 feet of each end.

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It was a time consuming process, but a necessary one because if the break can be detected; many times, we could cut the cord, replace the ends and continue to use it all the way down to 25’.  And this is important because the cost per cord is a whopping $300.  If we can’t fix the cord, there is nothing we can do with it?  It is junk. 

Desired Result:

Because maintenance didn’t want to just junk the cords because they were so costly and it was a time consuming processes to repair them, we needed to find a way to find the wire break quicker, even if the electrical was intermittent.  There is one cord for every new and retrofit welding machine; roughly 6 cables were already purchased this year. 

Solution:

 A test box that took only about two hours to build and cost less than $150 in materials!  John Young took a no longer used metal key box and gutted the inside.  He added a 120 volt cord to feed his new “transformer”; voltage is then knocked down to 10 inside the transformer.  He wired in yellow and white light bulbs on the front to test both 8 and 11 pin cords.  He added two short cables with both male and female connections.  When he plugs in the cord in question, he can tell right away which wire is broken, if any.  He can also manipulate the cords starting at the top and going down and the lights will help him discover the exact place of the break. 

The box is portable so when maintenance is called, John can take it right to the site of the welder and begin the testing.  So there is a lot of frustration saved and a lot of money in time to test and also cost of replacing the cord. 

MANY THANKS to John and his team for continually looking for ways to make their jobs more efficient and our company better!

The Rose Corporation is a Pennsylvania-based, WBENC-certified small business specializing in the manufacture of custom industrial fabrication, large-scale precision weldments, power generation equipment (including repairs), and more. The Rose Corporation’s most unique strength is our experience with delivery of specialized design expertise, along with an ability to help customers optimize manufacturability, reduce costs, and improve overall product quality.

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Rose Corporation uses 50’ industrial extension cords that connect each welder to a feeder so we can move the feeders around as we work on various welding jobs.  Inside each of the newer cords is 11 wires with respective connecting pins.  Our older machines have cords with 8 wires.  When a co-worker calls maintenance because of a problem with their welder, we go out to troubleshoot the situation.  Often, the problem is a broken wire inside the extension cord.