It’s always a good practice to check your work. That’s why contractors turn to the engineers at TSP Inc. to make sure they have done the best job possible for their clients.
Matt Jarding serves as vice president of project services for Electric Supply Company, a full-service electrical contractor that has operated in the Sioux Falls area and surrounding communities since 1923. Jarding started as an assistant project manager in 2007, and his first large project brought him together with TSP team members.
That project, Sanford Children’s Hospital, was a Design-Assist project in which TSP performed the mechanical and electrical design services. Electric Supply Company needed—for the first time—to provide the client with a short-circuit study and a protective device coordination study.
Sound complicated? For most nonprofessionals, it is. But put simply, Electric Supply Company needed to provide critical information that would ensure its client that its facility would operate efficiently and effectively through all situations such as natural disasters, utility power interruptions, and even pandemics.
“Electric Supply Company’s knowledge and service along with TSP’s detail and professional analysis collaborate to provide the customer with a great mix of expertise from both the field side and the design side,” Jarding said.
To accomplish those demanding tasks, TSP electrical engineer Jake Buckmiller is one of the team members providing that detail and professional analysis using his own expertise and an electrical-engineering software known as SKM. SKM is the software of choice that TSP uses to determine electrical and mechanical equipment ratings, as well as study a building’s electrical distribution system. Because SKM is a graphical software, it makes it easier to “see” the system, Buckmiller said.
With SKM, a building’s electrical distribution system can be modeled, then used to ensure equipment such as panelboards, switchgear, elevators, and mechanical air conditioning units are rated appropriately.
“It establishes what the equipment ratings need to be for the contractor, giving him a baseline,” said Buckmiller, who joined TSP five years ago. “We want to make sure when it’s all said and done and installed, it’s similar to what we have in our design. We will get a validation that our initial design was accurate.”
TSP’s electrical engineers use SKM to vet their own designs, but when working with contractors, they check the design after the fact and verify the equipment is rated properly. Today, 13 years after he started with Electric Supply Company, Jarding has a list of power-system studies of new and existing buildings and campus that need to be done with trusted firms like TSP: short-circuit analysis, protective device coordination study, and arc flash risk assessments.
“There are a couple things we look at,” Buckmiller said. “One is the effect that a short circuit will have on the electrical system. When a short circuit, or fault, occurs on an electrical system, a much higher current can be present in the system–higher than what the equipment may be rated to receive.”
Running the design through the SKM software helps identify potential problem areas and ensure the equipment is appropriately rated to receive that extra current without being damaged or even exploding. Essentially, the equipment will still fail but in a safe manner, Buckmiller said.
The SKM software also determines whether circuit breakers or other protective devices will properly isolate a faulted portion of the system, Buckmiller said. Ensuring that the correct circuit breakers open can isolate the problem to a single portion or panel, not the entire system. That is of particular concern to large health-care campuses, Jarding said.
These and related studies give these clients the reliable information they need for successful daily operations, he said.
And TSP’s work gives the contractor the assurance they need, Buckmiller said. “We’re here to provide these services before, during, or even after construction should they be needed. We’ve had a number of projects where they’ve been beneficial. We’re knowledgeable on software, and we can provide fairly quick turnarounds.”
That’s especially important when a contractor has a deadline looming or needs to order equipment. “We can work to meet their schedules as quickly as possible,” Buckmiller said.