Thompson Automation Supports Technology Field Day at Loess Hills Elementary


Thompson Automation was excited to participate in a Technology Field Day at Loess Hills Elementary on October 26th.  The idea was born from a conversation between Kent Grange of Thompson and John Beeck the principal of Loess Hills.  As a technology-centric elementary school, it was a great opportunity to connect these young students with the technology used by Siouxland businesses.

A select group of local Siouxland Business’s presented to 5th graders as a showcase the various skills needed for different careers, with a large focus on literacy and technology.   “We were able to share with the students the different things that can be done with the programming and technology skills they are learning,” said Jason Glover of Thompson Automation.  “It was a really fun chance to help these students see what they do in school are the skills they will need in a career.”

The event was so successful that there is now talk about making the Technology Field Day an annual event.  Thompson’s participation was also part of a larger corporate program to be active in our communities and support local events.

Keep Your Electrical Gear Clean and Tight

Electrical failures often can be avoided and good preventative maintenance programs can help predict the imminent failure of equipment.  According to the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), the failure rate of electrical equipment is three times higher when electrical preventive maintenance programs are not performed. This tells us that electrical failures can be avoided.


But what should be included in a good electrical preventative maintenance program (EPM). There are so many things that could be done.  Equipment maintenance, cleaning, and thermal imaging are just a few of the things to be considered.  However, where does one put the priority?  Just consider the top causes of failure in electrical system: loose connections, improperly installed parts, defective/inadequate insulation, foreign objects causing short-circuiting, overloading inadequate capacity, and the accumulation of dust, dirt and oil.  All things that can be prevented with routine and systemic electrical inspections.

Common in all these causes of electrical equipment failure is gear not being clean and well maintained.  Here are things to keep in mind when developing an EPM.

  1. Keep your gear clean. The buildup of dirt and metal debris in an electrical enclosure can cause arcing and arc flash explosions. A second issue brought about by the buildup of dirt and debris is an increase in heat and the temperature of the electrical equipment.  Restricted airflow and an increase in the temperature of gear decreases the quality and usable life of the equipment.  Finally, a dirty environment also creates a hospitable home for rodents and vermin. Dust is not your only enemy in dirty environments and lurking to cause problems.
  2. Keep your gear tight. Loose connections are a major cause of electrical failures. Greater than 75% of the problems uncovered during routine thermal imaging inspections are loose connections. Thermography (infrared scanning) is a common way to identify areas that need repair but must be done while the gear is energized. While the gear is off and being cleaned why not take an extra minute to check and tighten those loose connections.

If you have more questions or are looking for ideas and more information on best practice electrical preventative maintenance programs give the experts at Thompson Automation and Specialty Services a call today.  Given their 85+ years of experience as an electrical contractor, Thompson specializes in the development of custom electrical preventative maintenance programs for customers across the country.  Thompson understands the importance of keeping facilities safe, efficient and operating at peak performance and can custom tailor a program for you.

You Need an Electrical Preventative Maintenance Program

2014-08-20 10.27.22Electrical systems, just like mechanical systems, are prone to failure over time due to age, poor maintenance, and the stress of overuse.  People often assume that because electrical systems lack moving parts there is not a need for electrical preventative maintenance.  An idea that couldn’t be further from the truth.  In fact, the resulting impacts of electrical failures can lead to larger and more costly problems than mechanical failures alone.  Here are four things to consider if you don’t think an electrical preventive maintenance program is for you.

  1. Safety: What is the safety of your employees and contractors worth?
  2. Electrical failures often can be avoided.

  3. Electrical preventative maintenance programs are not expenses, rather good investments.

  4. Industry standard best practice guidelines include preventive maintenance programs.

Earlier detection of problems can allow you to catch small issues before they become big ones.  No one can claim to be perfect at identifying electrical problems before they arise.  A good preventative maintenance program, however, can help predict the imminent failure of equipment.   The question then when deciding on the value of a preventative maintenance program is not the cost of the program but rather the return on the investment.

If you have more questions or are looking for ideas and more information on best practice electrical preventative maintenance programs give the experts at Thompson Automation and Specialty Services a call today.  Given their 85+ years of experience as an electrical contractor, Thompson specializes in the development of custom electrical preventative maintenance programs for customers across the country.  Thompson understands the importance of keeping facilities safe, efficient and operating at peak performance and can custom tailor a program for you.

Is the Risk of an Arc Flash Explosion Worth the Consequences? 

I look at risk as a combination of probability and consequences.   If the probability and consequences of an accident are low, then the risk is low.  If the probability is high and the consequences are high, then the risk is high.  Perceived risks then drive spending and investments and while we can’t put a specific value on reducing risk we ArcFlashLabeltypically will measure an expected Return on Investment (ROI) for what we spend.  If you have not already made the investment to have an Arc Flash Risk Assessment done at your facility you need to know about and consider the probability and consequences.

The probability of an Arc Flash is related to the quality, care, and age of your electrical system.  The consequences of an Arc Flash can be devastating.  Arc Flash explosions are known to cause serious damage to your facility and personnel.  What is the impact to your business if an arc flash explosion shuts your production line or facility down for a day, a week or a month? You need to consider the total financial loss of an accident; costs that include the disruption of your business and to your customers can be substantial.  Regulatory fines alone can be crippling.

An Arc Flash Risk Assessment is required by OSHA and will-full noncompliance can quickly extend fines into the millions of dollars. What about future expenses then like increased insurance rates and injury settlements.  It can be shuttering to consider, but what about the cost of a death of an employee.

The good news in all this, however, is that the cost of having an Arc Flash Risk Assessment done is low.  It’s very hard to place hard numbers on the cost of an accident.  However, if the risk of an accident is rather high but the investment is low, it makes the decision easier to deal with.  An Arc Flash and the resulting explosions can be devastating to your organization and the employee that is not properly prepared or protected against it.  Whether your motivation is to protect your employees, meet the OSHA requirements, or protect against future expenses; having an Arc Flash Risk Assessment completed by qualified and trained professionals is important.  Contact the experienced Arc Flash specialists at Thompson Automation and Specialty Services at 844-321-3869 today to learn more or to have them perform an Arc Flash analysis for your facility.

The Best Reasons to Go Solar Today


There always seems to be one question that we get asked all the time at Thompson Solar. “Is Solar the right move for my business?”  Smart energy sustainability certainly reduces operating costs with lower utility bills and can improve the overall value of your business.  At Thompson Solar, we help customers understand the five fundamental reasons to ‘Go Solar.’ To help you learn more about how your business can benefit from solar we have our Best 5 Reasons to Go Solar to share with you today.

  1. Reduce Your Energy Costs
  2. Get Credit for the Electricity You Make
  3. The ROI on Your System Could Be Just 3-6 Years
  4. Take Advantage of Tax Credits (Free Money)
  5. It Attracts New Customers

    Bonus: Thompson can Finance Your Solar System

You may know Thompson Electric as one of the leading electrical contractors in the upper Midwest for more than 85-years.  You may not know that Thompson also is a leading developer of solar energy projects.  Contact the solar experts at Thompson Solar today at 844-321-3869 to learn how your business can benefit from a solar conversion.


The Future Is Bright At BCU

It was an exciting day at Briar Cliff University in Sioux City Iowa when they flipped the switch in the Neuman Flanagan Center and the new LED lights came on.  The future is so bright in fact that the basketball and volleyball teams may need sunglasses at practice.

As part of a two-year campus-wide lighting retro-fit project, Thompson Automation and Specialty Services has partnered with Briar Cliff to change out all the old lighting fixtures and install new energy-efficient LED light.  In addition to brighter and higher quality light in the gymnasium; the new LED fixtures cost significantly less to operate, turn on instantly, operate quieter, and don’t put off near the heat that the old metal halide lights did.  The change is astonishing.

Briar Cliff University is a MidAmerican Energy Trade Ally Partner so not only do they earn exceptional savings from the day to day cost of operating the lights and rebates on the cost of the fixtures, they also earn bonus incentives for the number of lighting efficiency projects they have undertaken.

If you ever wonder what new LED lighting could mean for your school be sure to give the experts at Thompson Automation and Specialty Services a call today.  For more than 80-years, they have been exceeding customers’ expectations and delivering results similar to Briar Cliff University.

Innovate; the first ever industrial automation & technology conference


On May 15th Thompson Automation and Specialty Services hosted Innovate; the first ever industrial automation & technology conference in the Siouxland area.

This exciting automation and technology conference highlighted several emerging automation technologies, the development of new security systems to protect IT infrastructures from attack and identify ways companies can leverage workforce development partners to meet their future employment needs. The attendees were able to learn more about emerging industrial trends being implemented to reduce downtime, cut costs, find process improvements and utilize data to make better decisions.

This was a very exciting event for Thompson Automation to be able to host.  Thompson was able to bring in a panel of national leaders in the areas of automation, IIOT, security, and workforce development to have a robust discussion on relevant topics like connecting industrial systems to traditional IT infrastructures, infrastructure security, and workforce development.

The days’ keynote speaker was Bob Murphy, the Senior Vice President of Rockwell Automation, and a national leader in transforming business operations. Bob discussed how Rockwell was able to transform their manufacturing operations through a focus on people, processes, and technology. Bob shared many of the actual business benefits Rockwell realized and how others could achieve the same results through implementation of modern control and information systems.

After the keynote address, Bob Murphy also participated in a roundtable discussion on the challenges he faces leading an organization through transformational change.  Other panelists talked about their own real-world examples of implementing new technologies, preparing organizations for the Industrial Internet of Things, and Industry 4.0.

The day also included presentations from Chad Richards, a Cyber Security Specialist with Cisco, and Corey Cronin, a Solutions Architect from Rockwell.  Chad discussed the importance of having an integrated approach to network security. He talked about how companies need to properly protect their organization from multiple types of attacks and multiple sources. Corey discussed real examples of how improving a few automation and IT processes can make a huge difference in an operation.  Benefits discussed were how modernizing an operation can increase productivity, decrease downtime, and improve change over times.


The day finished with a tour of the WITCC Advanced Manufacturing Lab and Confined Space Trailer.

It was an exciting day and a special note of appreciation goes out to the days’ sponsors and hosts:  Thompson Automation and Specialty Services, Electric Innovations, Cisco, Rockwell Automation, The Siouxland Initiative, and Western Iowa Tech Community College.

The 2017 Innovate Industrial Automation & Technology conference was a huge success! We are already looking forward to the 2018 Conference!