Why maintenance of substation equipment is critical
Industry experts discuss why maintenance of substation equipment is critical. They also explain some of the advanced solutions for electrical substation maintenance.
Maintenance of a substation is essential to ensure un-interrupted electric supply to the using points. Timely maintenance helps to reduce outages, lower costs, and increase energy efficiency. Preventative and predictive maintenance can assist in reducing unplanned downtime and boost efficiency.
Sharing his opinion on why maintenance of substation equipment is critical, Vikram Gandotra, Vertical Market Manager – Utilities & GM (Strategy & Marketing), Digital Grid, Smart Infrastructure, Siemens Limited, observes that maintenance of substation equipment is critical to avoid revenue loss due to asset downtime. Also, if the assets are not maintained properly, then the life of the assets get reduced than what was originally designed for. Further, higher equipment failure due to lack of maintenance increases the demand for spare parts which in turn add to inventory cost.
According to Prabhakaran PV, Head – Product Management, Fluke India, “Maintenance of substation equipment is critical to ensure safety of men and machineries, improve reliability and reduce costs.”
Now the question is: In the power sector, what are the products that need to be
maintained? Explaining this, Mr. Gandotra said, “Primary equipment include
medium voltage panels, distribution & power transformers, outdoor circuit
breakers, high-voltage circuit breakers & disconnectors, overhead lines and
cables. In the secondary side, there are automation system, protection devices,
switches and firewalls.”
Challenges in substation equipment maintenance & repair
There are several challenges in substation equipment maintenance and repair. Talking about these challenges, Sourav Chakraborty, Senior Engineer, Power Consulting, Hitachi ABB Power Grids, India, said, “There are three major challenges in substation equipment maintenance and repair. They are proper shutdown and safety during execution of work, equipment condition, and management control & availability of skilled persons.”
According to Sourav, following need to be ensured to deal with challenges related to proper shutdown and safety during execution of work:
- Proper isolation of feeder
- Rack out of breaker from live panel while door open condition
- Movement of ladder or lifting arrangement inside AIS
- Maintain proper safety during height work
- Use of proper tools while working on low voltage systems.
Substation maintenance solutions
Mr. Prabhakaran mentioned three aspects of substation maintenance i.e. power and power quality, thermographic imaging and partial discharge. He adds, “Whether it is a pre-planned maintenance, predictive maintenance or condition-based maintenance, maintenance activities need to be done by the individual organisation’s engineers, and they need equipment which can help them to see what exactly they are doing and how exactly the machines are performing. That is where Fluke comes into the picture.”
He adds, “Quality power is the need of the hour – not only for industries, but also for the cities and even for our villages. During the last two years, we are all learning that quality power is critical even in the last mile of a smallest village as our engineers and scientists are working from the small villages during the pandemic. In this era of digitalisation, our equipment have also become increasingly sensitive which demand high-quality power to perform properly, reliably.”
To meet this critical requirement, Fluke offers Power Quality Analysers and Reporting Tools which give the complete analysis of power and power quality parameters. Similarly, thermography can be an Engineer’s third eye to find out the temperature differences in utility equipment. Also, Fluke 910 precision Acoustic Imager enables to detect partial discharge early enough to schedule maintenance thereby increases uptime and reduce cost.
Highlighting some of the advanced solutions for substation equipment maintenance, Mr. Gandotra said, “We are now using the power of digitalization…SICAM Navigator from Siemens is a Cloud-based application enables power grid operators to monitor the operational status of transformer stations using A8000 to optimize maintenance activities and reduces operational expenditure – from anywhere, at any time.”