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One Little Mouse, One Big Problem: P1 Electrical Testing and Maintenance Rescues Damaged Chiller Starter

P1 Service associate loads chiller starter onto truck

When a mouse most likely made a 5kV chiller starter its home at Southwest Iowa Renewable Energy (SIRE), chaos ensued. Fortunately, due to the quick thinking of Field Service Technician Garrett Whited, the P1 Electrical Preventative Maintenance (EPM) Team was called in to help.

“We wanted to get in the door at SIRE,” Garrett said. "During a visit with Proactive Solutions Sales Manager Tom Argubright, we learned SIRE’s chiller starter had experienced a damaging ARC Flash event.”

Garrett says he immediately thought of the P1 EPM division and breaker repair shop, and that’s when Electrical Preventative Maintenance Project Engineer Wade Buck and his team got involved.

“Garrett has played a crucial part in introducing our team to regional ethanol plants, and has really helped spread the word on P1 and the services we offer,” Wade said.

This is a unique opportunity for the breaker shop, as it is the first time the shop has redone a complete starter for one of these chillers in-house, although they have often serviced this type of equipment on-site.

quote from P1 Service electrical testing and maintenance technician Wade Buck

“We were able to hone in on the skills of two of our electrical testing technicians,” Wade noted.

“Rich Breeze has a lot of experience with the vacuum contactors in this unit and he’s utilizing his breaker rebuilding expertise on this larger scale project. Allen Hulett’s skills shine with the wiring, controls, and sequence of operations on this starter,” Wade said.

The breaker shop is bringing in more and more projects, working on things like fuse disconnect switches, low and medium voltage breakers, and generator accessory compartments, to name a few.

“A centrally located breaker repair shop is proving more and more advantageous for P1 EPM,” Wade said. “The leads from the ethanol industry have helped us grow across the country.”

He says they are seeing business from coast to coast, including breakers shipped in from Minnesota, New York, and on-site work scheduled in Washington State.

“If we find deficiencies during an on-site job, we can ship the equipment to our breaker shop, which gives us a good balance of manpower during the week," Wade said. "The central location adds the advantage of better turnaround time and shipping convenience for the customer."

photos of P1 Service technicians refurbishing a vaccuum contactor compartment

Laying the Foundation for Success in Ankeny, IA

You may just be hearing about a new P1 Service office in Ankeny, IA, but a small team of P1 experts has been working in the area for nearly 10 years.

According to Field Technician Garrett Whited, the team of Randy Wallace, Doug Cypher, and Gary Kessel started working in Iowa ethanol plants, specifically on centrifugal and water cooled screw chillers, in 2014.

They retired in 2018, and Garrett took over this work. “I cover Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, parts of the Dakotas, Wisconsin, and Illinois,” he explained.

Randy Wallace, who is once again employed with P1 as a field consultant, has returned to the Ankeny area.

With all of the work that has continued to build with ethanol plants in the area, Garrett said it made sense to re-open the office started by the original group back in 2014.

Interviews are underway for a general manager and other staff, and Garrett says the office should be up and running over the next couple months.

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