The electrical distribution infrastructure is the foundation through which power is safely delivered to industrial processes around the globe. This vital power distribution infrastructure operations 24/7 for, in some cases, years at a time without interruption. Behind the scenes plant managers have used time-proven maintenance strategies to avoid unplanned downtime. Today however, connected technologies and the Industrial Internet-of-Things (IIoT) are enabling innovative new condition-based monitoring services that continuously monitor asset health and, with the support of an expert-staffed service bureau, deliver advanced notification if any asset exhibits abnormal behavior. Potential problems are then addressed long before there is a safety risk or a costly impact to plant operations. The span of critical electrical distribution assets that now can be continuously monitored include dry type transformers and oil type transformers, medium voltage switchgear and low voltage switchgear, MV panels, and motor protection units, to name a few.
Below is an example of how these new, data-driven condition-based maintenance techniques, employed by an expert staffed service bureau, saved a large hospital in the US from a costly power outage.
A large power transformer, a common, critical electrical distribution asset was equipped with thermal sensors to continuously monitor the temperature of the transformer windings. The service bureau discovered, and then validated, an abnormally high temperature on one of the transformer windings. The customer was notified and the suspected cause of the event was discussed with the customer—potential insulation deterioration within the winding of the transformer.
Based on this leading indication and advanced diagnosis, the replacement of the transformer was scheduled. To mitigate any further deterioration, load shedding, or power reduction, was implemented to reduce the electrical load on the transformer windings. The asset was monitored closely until the replacement unit was installed.
In this case, IIoT techniques and connected temperature sensors aggregated asset performance data to the cloud, where the service bureau interpreted this data as a leading indicator of a possible critical asset failure that would have been extremely costly. The customer validated the value of this advanced notification by noting that at this same facility, a similar transformer failed a few years ago. Loses were estimated to exceed $1M in cleanup, repair and revenue, and the non-monitory impact of negative press caused by the outage.
In today’s environment, industrial companies are looking to take advantage of a range of digital technologies and advanced analytics to implement condition-based, predictive maintenance strategies. This type of electrical infrastructure modernization today spans beyond the individual devices and now includes the data network that aggregates this critical asset health information efficiently to a cloud-based platform, equipped the powerful analytics, and managed by a team of electrical distribution experts. This advanced, condition-based maintenance strategy is now being implemented across a broad range of industries achieving new levels safety, productivity and profitability. For more information please see Increasing Facility Performance with Asset Performance Management.
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