2021 Life of a Transformer Seminar Speaker Spotlight: Dr. Tony McGrail, Doble
We spoke with Dr. Tony McGrail, solutions director for asset management & monitoring technology at Doble as part of the Life of a Transformer™ Speaker Spotlight series. He gives us a preview of his session on intelligent condition monitoring and panel discussions he’s moderating on the topics of transformer condition monitoring best practices and transformer asset health indices.
Q: For those who may not be familiar with your work, could you share a bit about your background in the power industry?
A: I have been fortunate enough to have had a number of different roles in the power industry over the last 30 years, including substation technical specialist at National Grid in the U.K., T&D Substation Asset Manager at National Grid U.S. and SFRA product manager at Doble.
I am currently the solutions director for condition monitoring and asset management, which allows me to work with Doble clients around the world. I enjoy the technical challenges the job presents, particularly the fact there is always more to learn and share every day.
Q: You’re presenting a paper, Intelligent Transformer Condition Monitoring, on the second day of the seminar. What findings will you discuss?
A: This session will cover the role and possible benefits of condition monitoring, and the need for forethought to achieve those benefits: managing expectations, installation planning, data management and analytics, alert setting and response planning. We’ll look at examples of successful monitoring cases, but also review some of the challenges and pitfalls.
Q: What will attendees learn from this session?
A: The session will enable attendees to understand the difference between ‘a box with lights on’ attached to a power transformer and a ‘condition monitor,’ which provides actionable data to detect or diagnose anomalous conditions. The insights from a condition monitor enable transformer professionals to quickly activate a response plan to the benefit of themselves, their colleagues and the organization.
Q: Your panel session on condition monitoring best practices brings together representatives from utilities, renewable energy and asset management solutions. How will the audience benefit from the collective experience of this group?
A: The application of condition monitoring may be undertaken for a variety of reasons and through different technical implementations. The aim of the panel session is to share lessons learned from practitioners with different experiences who have faced different challenges, and to identify common practices and what may be considered best practices. We will discuss: the need to identify the expectations of the monitor application in theory, and the data accuracy/precision needed to support decisions in practice; the need for analysis in setting alert levels required in particular applications; action planning and response planning, and ‘embedding’ monitoring in the organization; and learning from applications over time.
Q: An Asset Health Index (AHI) is often viewed as a simple way to express the condition of a transformer or other asset. But your panel discussion on this topic will explore why context is needed to fully embrace this tool. Why is this an important distinction?
A: The electric supply industry is one of the few where asset health indices are commonly used to convey the condition of assets for intervention planning: maintenance, replacement, refurbishment and so on. There is a problem in that a health index has to reduce a lot of disparate data, including test, inspection and maintenance data, nameplate and historical fault and failure data, design specific information, and operational history and future requirements data, into an easily digestible format. An asset health index may also be used by folks in financial planning, who are less technical, but well versed in numbers. The index will have a significant degree of uncertainty as the data and interpretation of condition are subject to imprecision: but the ranking and manipulation of a range of spreadsheet entries can mask that.
Consequently, there are some simple lessons to learn and share:
- The index must be designed so that it clearly addresses a single requirement and be used only for that purpose
- The index should be calibrated for time and monotonic
- The index should be auditable and justifiable
- Someone has to understand the accuracy/precision of the indices
We will bring together both creators and users of indices to identify how to get the best value from them in the real world of power transformers!
Visit our Life of a Transformer Seminar site for more details on the agenda and registration.
- Agenda: 2021 Life of a Transformer Seminar