Contactor issues…Recruiting and…

Contactor issues … And diagnosing them

Given the frequency of electrical contactor failures in the dishroom you’d think we’d all have a good handle on their diagnosis and replacement. But that begins with having a basic understanding of how they work.

At it’s heart a contactor is simply a switch. But instead of a having a lever like a wall switch to turn something on, it contains a electro-magnetic coil to do that. When that coil is energized by the (generally) lower voltage of a control circuit, it closes the “switch”. By bringing the contacts inside it (ergo its name) together, higher voltage current can flow across those contacts and deliver power to a motor of heater element.

Diagnosing a faulty contractor is pretty basic. First when it’s energized the “clack” it makes is pretty unmistakable. A lack of that distinctive sound means it’s not working. Now the question is why not. Maybe it’s because the control voltage isn’t being delivered to it. A quick check with a voltmeter on the contactor’s control wire connections will answer that one.

Maybe one or more of the magnetic coils inside the contactor are simply dead. If that’s the case, you can use an insulated probe to manually close the contacts. It that powers the device it controls the contactor coil is bad. And if it clacks but doesn’t actuate it’s likely that its’ contacts are badly corroded or carboned and isn’t allowing them to make electrical contact.

Oh, and finally remember even if it clacks and closes, the 220-volt current may not be flowing across it, so  use a voltage tester to confirm the power is coming out it – and also into the wires powering the device that isn’t working.

Next up: What if there’s no control power?

Recruiting and … The right time

When it comes to deciding on the right time to start recruiting that new or replacement candidate, the question should be front and center in our minds. And the answer is pretty simple: Recruiting is best done as an “all-of-the-time-everyday” activity. Waiting until it to hits us in the face is a mistake that can lead to making less than the best staffing decisions.

Undertaken as an ongoing activity you might just stumble over a really great candidate who’s exactly the perfect new team addition – and who you didn’t even know you needed. Maybe he’s exactly the person who could insure next year’s growth and more. And if your efforts simply unearth a possible future service technician replacement that’s certainly a win as well.

Of course you can’t “stockpile” a potential candidate in your bullpen indefinitely. But you can keep them on your possible hiring list for a time by occasionally having a lunch or coffee with them to maintain their interest in joining your team in the future.

Sure, candidates are perishable, but with attention and by being up front about your interest and timing we can keep them active for a bit of time. Assuming they’re currently employed, hopefully they’ll be willing to wait – at least temporarily for the opportunity to come on board.

Next up: The time benefit in hiring.