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Electrical testing

Haefely and Omicron offer an insight into a booming market

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Electrical grid components need regular testing to prevent failure, leading to outages.
Electrical grid components need regular testing to prevent failure, leading to outages.

With the electrical testing industry growing along with expanding infrastructure, experts from Megger, Haefely and Omicron offer an insight into a booming market

What challenges are currently affecting the industry?
Andy Hedgecock, Omicron
There is a clear movement towards advanced testing, where the users are demanding more information from their test equipment in order to be able to perform detailed analysis of the condition of the plant.

What are your clients trying to achieve from testing?
Nick Parton, Megger
At a basic level, we’ve got equipment that people use just to ensure wiring is safe, that protective devices are going to operate correctly in the event of fault, and that people and assets are protected from failures.

At the other end, there’s constant pressure on utilities to improve reliability and efficiency; the basis of good maintenance is having the test results to be able to measure improvements.

So we’re providing equipment that will detect faults as early as possible, allowing maintenance programmes to be tailored to best suit where the most urgent problems are, as well as monitoring how things are progressing or degrading for future replacement.

Andy Hedgecock, Omicron
Electrical testing ensures installed high-voltage equipment is safe, reliable and performs correctly, and it makes economic sense when used as part of a condition-based maintenance programme.

Failure to perform electrical testing will eventually cost the system owner even more money, as there would be a higher risk of unexpected power outages and electrical failures.

Girish Narayana, Haefely
All networks are populated with many high-voltage components, and each component of the network is liable for failure under severe load conditions. Hence it is mandated that each of such components be tested to certain international standards so the threat of failure is minimised. Any manufacturer of these components needs to prove to the user that the component is manufactured to meet these stringent international standards.

Are requirements changing?
Andy Hedgecock, Omicron
Users are no longer satisfied with simple pass/fail testing, but are demanding information and results which can easily be interpreted, to enable them to make condition-based decisions.

This advanced testing and analysis was previously considered a luxury, but now it is essential for the safe operation of high-voltage equipment, in addition to the economic savings every user is looking for.

Should testing be seen as a preventative measure?
Girish Narayana, Haefely
Testing will always be two-sided. One will be condition-based monitoing/schedule-based monitoring orientated towards preventing catastrophic failure of equipment.

The other will be - when in spite of such preventative measures equipments fail - to diagnose and to find the origin of the failure, and analysis of the same.

What new technology should we expect to see?
Andy Hedgecock, Omicron
The next big innovation is for more installed testing systems to operate online while the system is in operation; being able to monitor and analyse the condition electrical equipment without shutting off the power.

These monitoring systems have been available for some time, but only with limited functions, and now new technology is opening the way for more advanced systems.

How’s business ?
Nick Parton, Megger
Very well – we see the predicted continued growth, and the requirement for continued growth of the electrical infrastructure, as providing ongoing and increasing demand for the supply of our type of equipment. We’re going to make sure that our products, and our local support puts us in a position to take best advantage of that.

What would greatly improve the testing industry?
Andy Hedgecock, Omicron Surprisingly, despite the fast modern advances in technology in general, and its easy acceptance, in the electrical power sector it has been difficult to persuade the engineers to embrace some of the new technology available to them. There are many new tests, or testing techniques that can be applied to high voltage equipment, but it is evident that there is a general reluctance to accept such developments.

What clients do you deal with?
Nick Parton, Megger
Probably 80 to 85 per cent of our equipment is used on the equipment that’s owned by the electrical utilities and big manufacturing plants. The actual customers are utilities and big industrial customers, but it varies from country to country to what extent those customers actually use contractors rather than their own employees to actually do the testing and maintenance. Particularly in the UAE, there’s a large group of contractors who are doing a lot of the physical hands-on work.

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