As the saying goes, ‘time is money’, and with the cost of downtime increasing into the millions per hour, this has never been truer. Consequently, the need for a reliable, safe and easily maintainable power network has become more important than ever. This raises the question: what is your strategy to protect your assets and achieve performance efficiency throughout your installation lifecycle?
Modernizing may instantly conjure thoughts of demolishing an entire existing infrastructure, but it can be more beneficial to replace only critical component than replacing the entire electrical installation with new equipment. Pinpoint where your upgrade will bring you most benefit. These solutions are generally more cost-effective and less disruptive than buying entirely new equipment.
How can you update your switchgear infrastructure and why would you want to?
There are many issues to consider, starting with the following:
- Safety: Electrical switchgear failure, which is more likely with older equipment, can cause serious injuries and damage.
- Switchgear lifespan: On average, switchgear lifespan has been extended from 10 to 30 years, and in cases, such as nuclear plants, up to 50-60, however, industry standards and technology offerings are evolving at a faster rate. This challenges companies to modernize an antiquated system while ensuring reliability.
- Cost savings: Modernizing existing electrical switchgear, rather than replacing it, will save both physical equipment costs as well as time and labor.
- Maintenance costs: Maintenance costs and the risk of product failure rise as the product ages, so naturally, modernizing may help to reduce these maintenance costs.
- Spare parts availability: The availability of spare parts must be investigated. If spare parts are no longer readily available, it may be time to modernize.
- Urgency of modernization: The criticality of the affected processes must be assessed and prioritized when determining what needs to be modernized.
- Improved reliability: Reliability is key for cost savings and preventing downtime.
- Technology and improved capabilities: New technology provides increased capabilities, better performance, and reduced maintenance requirements.
- Monitor the health of your system: Achieve business continuity and extend your equipment’s life by monitoring the thermal and environmental health of your electrical installation.
- Workflow disruption: Take into account the cost and inconvenience of downtime when repairing or replacing equipment. Modernization can be performed with minimal downtime and production stoppage.
- Capital costs: Although long-term cost savings can be anticipated, it is also important to consider the sometimes-substantial capital costs.
Above all, modernization decision should be based on multiple considerations. It is important to understand the current status of the electrical installation and to have a clear vision of the site’s future evolution. Then, a short and long term plan, including maintenance, modernization, monitoring and management can be implemented.
Learn more in our white paper “Guidelines for Modernizing Existing Electrical Switchgear in LV and MV Networks”.