If you are running commercial or industrial enterprises, then you already know that your electrical assets are amongst the most important. They power your important manufacturing equipment as well as the business operations. Without the electricity, your installations will virtually grind to a halt. This will hit your bottom line hard, eating into your productivity and profits. Any failure in the electrical assets of the company will most likely lead to catastrophic losses. It is thus important to ensure the reliability of your electrical assets at all times through partial discharge monitoring.
If you are an asset manager, you will have to grapple with the challenge of maximizing on your electrical infrastructure even if your systems are aging. This usually happens even when you don’t have enough qualified technicians and in-house resources to efficiently manage your systems. In the current regulatory environment, you cannot afford to not invest in cutting edge asset management.
There are, however, advances in technology that make asset management a lot easier such as the use of partial discharge testing switchgear or PD testing switchgear. These offer the asset managers newer and more innovative approaches through which they can achieve better reliability as well better performance of their critical electrical assets.
Understanding Partial Discharges or PDs
Before you invest in partial discharge monitoring, it is important to have a clear understanding of what the partial discharges are. These are the small electrical sparks that typically occur within the insulation of medium as well as in the high voltage electrical assets. A discrete partial discharge will occur when an electrical breakdown occurs in the air pockets in the electrical insulation. A partial discharge will erode the electrical insulation and if this goes unchecked, may eventually lead to the breakdown of the electrical insulation.
The breakdown of the insulation is generally the leading cause of many electrical failures that occur in the high voltage electrical assets. When the insulation of an electrical asset deteriorates, it will manifest itself in the form of the partial discharges.
Partial discharge monitoring and testing is a predictive model that is applied on the electrical assets. It is a form of predictive maintenance. The data that is generated through the partial discharge monitoring will over time be used to offer engineers critical information on the quality of the electrical insulation. It is also an indication of the general equipment health.
The big advantage is that the partial discharges typically occur well in advance of insulation failure. As a result, it is possible for the asset managers to monitor these PDs and make informed strategic interventions in order to correct the anomaly. Normally, this might be in the form of repairs or maintenance activities on the electrical assets.
Partial discharge is a form of predictive diagnostics. Companies can thus use these in order to prioritize capital investments before a catastrophe occurs. The testing results are applied in the prediction of future reliability and performance of your important electrical assets such as the electrical terminations, generators, motors, bushings, transformers and switchgear amongst others.