Temperature Monitoring Avoids Switchgear Failures

Most switchgear failures are caused by mechanical wear, deterioration, or improper inspections. As some studies indicate, these conditions are accompanied by a thermal signature that can be an critical predictor of failure.

IEEE study on medium-voltage switchgear failure causes and solutions*

Visual Inspection**

Busbars, cable heads, circuit breakers and contactor assemblies are critical locations in switchgear equipment that carry high voltage electricity. With the varying electrical load on the equipment, these locations begin to show signs of structural wear or fatigue over time. As tens or hundreds of kilovolts run through these weak points, the temperature begins to rise. If left unnoticed and unattended to, this can lead to dielectric breakdown causing catastrophic failures in the form of partial discharge and arcing.

Such failures can be avoided by monitoring temperature continuously at these critical locations in the switchgear assembly to gain insight into trends or anomalies over time. It is important that this monitoring be continuous, non-disruptive and risk-free to provide sufficient insight without compromising the operation or safety of the switchgear equipment. This can help minimize the amount of downtime that needs to be scheduled.

Switchgear explosion caused by partial discharge***

 

*http://www.pps2.com/PDF/Failure-Contributors-MV-Gear-IEEE-Nov2002.pdf

**Image sourced from: http://builders-electric.com/prevent-switch-gear-repair-proper-maintenance/ on Aug 28, 2017.

***Image sourced from: http://www.hydrocarbonprocessing.com/magazine/2016/october-2016/maintenance-and-reliability/monitor-medium-voltage-switchgear-in-refineries on Aug 28, 2017.


In case you missed the previous posts in this Series, here they are:

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