A New Approach to High Voltage Insulation System Testing
Speed is the driving force of successful fault prevention. Early detection of insulation deterioration is key for avoiding asset failure and associated unplanned outages and physical damage to infrastructure. The traditional testing approaches most teams rely on inhibit quick diagnosis of insulation issues, as they require a wide range of sensing methods and expert data interpretation.
High voltage equipment is especially susceptible to electrical, mechanical, and thermal stresses and often is constantly exposed to environmental conditions that often accelerate insulation deterioration and asset failure. Technology advancements are helping power and utility teams create a more holistic and simplified approach to in-service testing that bridges knowledge and skills gaps. With reliable deterioration testing results easily available, teams can get ahead of asset issues before they lead to failures.
The value of partial discharge testing.
Since the 1980’s Partial Discharge (PD) diagnostics have been a powerful toolset in assessing the health of high voltage insulation systems, providing valuable insights for maintenance planning and the prevention of unplanned outages due to equipment failure. Measurement methods in the field of PD range from factory acceptance testing to various field and in-service testing applications on a broad spectrum of test objects, including transformers, switchgear, cable and their accessories, generators, and many more.
However, significant complexity in both data acquisition and analysis is associated with Partial Discharge measurements and assessments. Historically there has been the need for subject matter experts, experienced or comprehensively trained personnel, in order to obtain reliable results and sound assessments of the insulation system health based on PD. This need has been a barrier to the large-scale application of Partial Discharge measurement methods.
The role of electromagnetic interference diagnostics.
For over four decades, electromagnetic interference (EMI) diagnostics has been a reliable method for successfully performing asset testing on electrical power systems. An EMI assessment is a test that can detect a wide variety of defects in generators, motors, and associated electrical system components. After the initial test, trained asset managers can walk away with actionable maintenance recommendations for further investigation. The test is incredibly valuable, but somewhat complex for the untrained eye as the acquired radio frequency spectrum, or EMI signature, is unique for each physical location and defect present within the electrical system.
Like Partial Discharge assessments, EMI measurements historically required a significant degree of expertise, subject matter experts or well-trained personnel for data acquisition and analysis.
The best of both worlds, made easy.
With Partial Discharge and EMI diagnostics being two very powerful and complementary tools for asset health assessments, new tools are emerging that detect both types of signals in one device, enabling teams to identify and address deterioration issues faster.
Doble’s Spark P3, for example, is a universal PD and EMI analyzer that enables teams to perform comprehensive PD and EMI insulation system diagnostics and analysis on a wide range of high voltage apparatus, including rotating machines, power transformers, instrument transformers, switchgear, and cables and accessories. With a software defined radio signal detector, power and utility teams can identify characteristics of insulation system deterioration that could lead to the failure of high voltage equipment. A wide range of advanced diagnostic tools, including phase resolved PD analysis, spectrum analysis, time resolved narrow band analysis, and automatic rotating machine insulation system defect assessment, equips users to detect emerging faults early and avoid outages and other damages.
Revamped in-service testing approaches that are supported with technology and automation boost team productivity and performance. Users can easily take measurements, classify signals using built-in AI tools, and perform other important diagnostic and data acquisition procedures – without the support of an expert resource. Power and utility teams can spend more time acting on results to prevent failures, instead of getting lost in the intricacies of the measurements and what they mean.
High voltage equipment failures and unplanned downtime can cause significant damages to utilities and asset owners. Quick and reliable identification of deterioration in insulation systems by means of PD and EMI diagnostics can be the difference between the failure of equipment, and a simple maintenance task.
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