What is the risk of lightning in industrial environments?

What is the risk of lightning in industrial environments?
4 October, 2023

In industry and industry, lightning poses a serious threat to many production-related processes. It doesn't matter if it's materials that can create a suitable fire environment or if there are flammable gases, liquids, dusts or fibres. 

In many areas risk management is linked to keeping an eye on the weather forecast and issuing storm and lightning threat warnings. 

But is that enough? Of course not. 

It is necessary not only to stop operations that would pose a risk, but also to have a protection system that is less or impervious to the effects of lightning. 

Using appropriate protection systems and creating the right operations will have a positive effect on risk assessment and increase the level of protection. 

In this article we, from Blitz Guard, we will focus on the main risks in industry and industry. Our specialists will give you professional advice on how to protect the lives of your employees and the integrity of your property.

Why do you need lightning protection?

There is no equipment, technology or method developed to change the weather to prevent thunderstorms or lightning from occurring. Different weather conditions can have different effects on the environment. Buildings, structures and devices can be damaged by lightning, and people and animals can be injured or lose their lives. The impact can be direct or indirect. 

In industry and industry where investment in machinery, equipment and software is large. Just a single lightning strike can shut down production and cause major losses – operational breakdowns, significant asset damage, destruction of equipment and facilities. 

Expensive machinery is not just important to production, any repairs can cause significant delays and reduce your profits. 

For many businesses, the effects of a single direct hit can result in lost production due to physical, secondary or EMP damage. Business losses can reach serious proportions. 

When working with clients, it is very important to respect the commitments and deadlines. Stopping work for a few days will cause trouble - paying penalties, not being able to complete orders and dissatisfied partners. 

Don't forget that you also need to allow for the unpaid downtime of the workers you will want to keep at work to resume production. 

What damage can lightning cause to your business?

A lightning bolt contains up to 100 million volts of electricity. This is enough power to heat the surrounding air. Lightning strikes can cause:

   • Fires – they can affect both the vegetation around your enterprise or workshop, as well as the structure itself or individual parts of the building. 

   • Structural damage – even if your facilities are made entirely of steel and concrete, you are not safe. Concrete never dries completely because there is always residual moisture in the material. When exposed to high temperatures such as a lightning strike, this moisture turns to steam, expands and damages the structure. Shock waves can also destroy concrete and damage equipment. It is possible for the current to pass through electrical wires and metal reinforcements in the structure and cause various structural damages. 

   • Equipment Damage - Electrically powered machines are often the biggest victims of lightning strikes. The electromagnetic pulses that result from the impact can be compared to a nuclear explosion at high altitude. All electronic or powered equipment may be damaged. A sufficiently large pulse can stop not only the entire power supply, but also damage the equipment. If operations stop, there is also a risk of data loss. 

How to reduce the risk?

There are many warning techniques used in lightning protection plans, ranging from very simple and basic to complex lightning localization networks. Weather forecasts can help in planning lightning-prone operations, but they are not reliable or specific enough to rely on alone. 

Although they can reduce the risk of accident, you need a comprehensive system to manage the risk. 

Here it is important to consider that lightning is not ahead

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