Most electrical switchrooms house medium voltage or low voltage electrical distribution equipment. For example, switchgear, circuit breakers, transformers, fuse-switches, relays, electrical panels, and busbars. And for the maintenance teams and operation managers that manage them, switchroom diagnostics are increasingly important.
Ensuring safe smooth operation, and early identification of potential failures depends on disciplined practices. This means performing annual checks, periodic maintenance work recommended by manufacturers and the documentation of all completed maintenance work. Without proper care, electrical equipment is at risk, and component wear can lead to electrical equipment failure and unplanned shutdown.
Electrical switchroom diagnostics improve continuity
Delivering higher continuity means that switchroom diagnostics are emerging as a critical success factor in improving electrical switchroom durability. This makes them a key differentiator as they demand an elevated level of human experience and expertise. They also need an investment in sophisticated software tools, and broad access to equipment field performance data.
Yet not all electrical switchroom diagnostics systems offer the same capabilities. When selecting a maintenance and diagnostics partner, operations teams should consider several elements for securing operational consistency and safety. They include:
Technician knowledge levels
The lowest risk approach is to work with the manufacturer of the equipment. Since the manufacturer has designed and built the equipment in question, their depth of knowledge is greater. Unaffiliated third-party providers usually have a general knowledge of components but may not be familiar with the intricate details. Also, the manufacturer’s field service representatives have direct access to the development teams that originally designed the individual components. Therefore, they have the option of going direct to the source, thereby minimising length of downtime, should an issue occur.
Specialist diagnostics tools available
One example of switchroom diagnostics is Schneider Electric’s ProDiag diagnostic tools. These are a combination of dedicated sensors and an internal software tool. Schneider Electric field personnel use these tools to analyse trip units like MicroLogic, relays, breakers, fuses, and other electrical components. They can also help to detect some potential electrical equipment issues and support condition-based maintenance. Moreover, they can also diagnose where the speed of a particular breaker has slowed down over time. For instance, the tool highlights breakers in need of repair or replacement before they cause unplanned shutdowns.
The use of data for predictive maintenance
The trend of big data has now evolved in a way that can boost the effectiveness of performance data collected from over 50,000 customer sites each year. This anonymous “data lake” tracks component history from site visits, and the actions taken to resolve the issues identified. As the data pool grows, the more precise and accurate the information available to analyse. This helps the goal of lowering the instances of unanticipated downtime and safety related accidents.
Linking this data to behavioural trends and component failure timelines means service teams know what to expect before they open the cabinet.