The auxiliary contacts in a motor starter are commonly used to indicate when the motor is running. However, auxiliary contacts only indicate the position of the contactor, not the actual load status. If a downstream disconnect is open (for example, for maintenance) or the contact fails (either sticks or dirt build-up) there can be serious consequences.
At a large fish farm, failed aerator pumps resulted in massive stock losses. Because the auxiliary contacts remained closed when the pump failed, the alarm was never activated, the back-up pumps were not switched on and the fish suffocated due to lack of oxygen. Now NK Technologies’ Current Operated Switches have been installed to provide an alarm signal and a signal to automatically switch over to the back-up aerator pumps.