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Interview: Megger's Nick Parton is up to the test

Reliability demands are driving a booming electrical testing market

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Lower loss transformers and higher dielectric strength cables need higher quality testing to optimise asset utilisation.
Lower loss transformers and higher dielectric strength cables need higher quality testing to optimise asset utilisation.

As infrastructure demand increases, requirements for reliability and safety is seeing the electrical testing market boom. UME talks to the experts

NICK PARTON, MEGGER
Tell us about your company

Megger is a leading worldwide manufacturer and supplier of test equipment for the electrical and communications industries. For over 100 years Megger has been a leading innovator in its field, being the first to bring to market a wide range of products including insulation testers, multimeters, cable fault location systems and automated relay test sets.

Today the company maintains this culture of innovation with an ongoing product development helping bring new ideas and technologies into the field of electrical testing.

How’s business?
Business in the Middle East region has remained good in the past year, with strong sales growth in the GCC countries and Iraq compensating for the business missed from countries that have seen the highest levels of unrest such as Libya, Syria, and Egypt.

Our operations in the region continue to be expanded, and a new regional office in Dubai has been opened to bolster the technical support provided from the Bahrain and Saudi offices.

What products are doing well in the Middle East?
The Megger product range of portable test instruments covers a broad spectrum of testing applications. The product developments in the transformer testing field have been very well received and this remains a strong area of business in the Middle East as well as in other regions.

The 3-phase winding resistance test set MTO330 is proving very popular thanks to the ease of use, improved safety and reduced test time, while the increased diagnostic capabilities offered by products such as the new Delta4000 tan delta test set and the IDAX300 insulation diagnostic analyser are giving asset managers better information than was previously available to them.

Similarly the new developments that we have introduced in protection testing and in cable fault location are driving a strong demand for these new ranges.

How is technology improving the testing environment?
Technology in electrical test instruments continues to drive improvements in terms of user friendliness, safety, and the quality of information provided. There is high acceptance of the importance of test and measurement as part of a planned maintenance program to enhance asset lifetimes and network reliability in the power industry.

Where we see a big gap between local and European practices, is in the area of testing, building, wiring and portable appliances.

These are large areas of business in parts of the world as a result of comprehensive regulations that are strictly enforced.

In the Middle East however we do not currently see the same level of legislation and enforcement covering periodic testing of electrical installations, and the testing of portable electrical equipment to ensure user safety.

How is electrical testing beneficial?
Testing, in the final analysis, is to make sure that the equipment will withstand the rigours of the field under normal or even harsh operating conditions.

It is better to do testing in the plant at the time of manufacturing and ensure that the equipment can withstand the voltage or current levels rather than have a failure three days after installation.

It’s better to have a failure at the manufacturing site where it can be repaired or replaced than in the field where it can be extremely costly to do so, apart from setting back the project by months.

What are the biggest areas of business for you?
Haefely, Tettex in Switzerland and Hipotronics in the US as a team provide end-to-end electrical testing solutions for cable and transformer factories.

The product range includes AC resonant systems for cable testing, impulse generators for testing cable and transformers and instrumentation to measure partial discharges and transformer load losses, and also various field test equipment suitable for utilities.

For cables and transformers, electrical tests either routine or type are mandatory as laid down by for manufacturers to qualify their products according to these standards, and it’s important to us that we are in line with the latest standards.

What challenges are affecting the industry?
Transiting from National Standards to Internationally accepted ones is a little slow in emerging economies, and also the national standards have still not evolved to be in line with the latest in technology and hence these testing markets are still underdeveloped.

This is especially true for field testing where minimum requirements and limitations are the governing factors rather than the applicable standards. We should rather see these as opportunities for future business than as challenges.

How is technology changing?
Hugely growing power demand is placing enormous strain on existing grids, making it necessary to go to the next higher voltage level. Renewable energy sources are being built in remote areas, and the new grids which will be necessary will have to be intelligent grids. The smarter the grid the more efficient and reliable the components of the grid will have to be.

To ensure reliability and efficiency of main grid components like transformers, transmission lines and cables, testing becomes that much more important. Lower loss transformers, higher dielectric strength cables and others will need higher quality testing to optimise asset utilisation.

What would improve the industry?
There is no substitute for quality. Quality can only be achieved through continuous practice of good, proven procedures and analysis of failures.

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