Tips on Shielding and Grounding in Industrial Automation

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Poor or inadequate grounding might cause electric shocks to users as well as result in operational problems like communication failures, excessive EMI generation, abnormal heating on the powering stages, frequent computers locking, burning of electronic components, etc. But, by using proper installation methods, adequate techniques, cable distribution, adequate grounding and shielding, the potential dangers and noise effects can be minimized.

The problem of electromagnetic compatibility generally arises due to the presence of multiple devices of different technologies and inadequate installations. Equipment suffers adverse impact from EMI radiations, which usually results from circuit breakers, sparking on the motor brushes, tension circuits switching, atmospheric discharges and electrostatic discharge between persons and equipment, microwaves devices, or mobile communication equipment.

Here are a few points to consider about grounding and shielding your industrial equipment.

  1. Controlling internal and external electromagnetic interference is essential. In automation systems, reducing noises play a crucial role as it may become a serious problem even when the best devices and hardware are put to use. Simple tools and techniques, such as the use of adequate grounding methods, shielding, twisted wires, filters, and differential amplifiers can be used to control noise.


  1. To protect against lightning and EMI and fulfill the safety standards; the grounding system should be at zero impedance. A mixture of different current levels will help in making the system interference-free.


  1. You could also take into account the topology, the distribution of the wiring, types of cables, and protection techniques to reduce its effects. You have to ensure that the connections are proper and check for inactive connectors.



  1. The performance of the system is also reduced due to the improper installation of equipment in non-recommended applications. Therefore, employing trained and qualified professionals for installation, operation and maintenance are essential.


  1. Every plant and system has its safety details, so it’s better to refer to the environmental regulations and the safety practices for the given area. Make sure you work safely on measurements and prevent electric shock from high voltage.


  1. In terms of the process industry, grounding can be classified into three types, dirty grounding, clean grounding, and structural grounding. Moreover, to protect against electric shock, chassis or housing grounding is recommended.


  1. Improper grounding and shielding are primarily responsible for producing noise in power source lines. EMI leads to several problems, such as gradually damaging the equipment and its components, communication failures, generating alarms without explanation and burning of electronic components. In industries and factories, the problems of overload, sub-voltage, or peaks are widespread as the functioning of the heavier machines, like welding instruments, motors (MCCs) and digital networks and computers result in frequent EMI.


  1. Proper shielding and grounding ensure a fully operational system and safe workplace. Most of the shielding and grounding problems are caused by measurement errors, which can be traced back to currents from external fields that have become coupled into the measurement test leads.

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