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Home » Industry Analysis » Testing and measurement in power substations

Testing and measurement in power substations

April 27, 2021 4:45 pm

Testing and measurement in power  substations
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With growing power demand in the country, operation and maintenance of power substations makes it imperative for their seamless operations. Testing and measuring instruments play an  important role in meeting the demand of such seamless operations

Power sector plays a crucial role in the industry and almost all our operations and systems require power stimulus for its operation. This kind of dependency makes it necessary to implement the right kind of testing and measurement techniques in the power sector like predictive and preventive maintenance with thermal inspection. 

There are wide range of equipment/technologies used  in the operation and maintenance (O&M) of power  substations. It ranges from handheld insulation testers  to IEC-61850 based relay testing to online monitoring  of critical equipment in the power network. Imteyaz  Siddiqui, Regional Area Manager – South Asia & GCC,  Altanova India Pvt. Ltd. says, “For an O&M engineer  based in any power substation, the reliability of  their electrical assets is of utmost importance. Any  malfunctioning in one of the assets will lead to huge  disruptions in the power supply.”

According to Parag Yelegaonkar, General Manager – Govt. Business, Testo India Pvt. Ltd., thermal Imagers are very important for the enhancement of life of any power plant or asset involved in it. “During installation phase thermal imagers can be used for setting up benchmark parameters and for all kinds of troubleshooting jobs. In the power generation phase a small lapse in preventive and predictive maintenance can lead to highly unsafe conditions. Most importantly, in power T&D phase like the electrical connection points and insulators for overhead power lines in substations or the overhead power lines in high-voltage systems, switch yards and transmission lines must be regularly checked for routine maintenance for thermal anomalies detection purposes,” he says.

For inaccessible locations testing and checking can also be done by thermal inspection as a predictive maintenance tool from a safe distance, without endangering the user or without needing a shut down the entire power transmission network. “Continuous thermal inspection becomes a mandate for the entire power sector and that’s where Testo extends its support and expertise to the industry and its users,” adds
Yelegaonkar.

Siddiqui sees more traction for digital technologies in future as he comments, “With the advancements of R&D, most of the power substations are now moving from analog to digital. In future, we can expect more digital substations and hence the testing and measurement technologies will also change from wired communication to IEC protocol-based communication.”

Prabhakaran V, Head – Product Management, Fluke India is of the view that the electrical utility engineers face constant concerns with condition monitoring variables such as electrical properties, mechanical vibration, corrosion, partial discharge related issues, in delivering good quality power to their customers. He adds, “Today a combination of fixed and portable T&M tools equipped with IIOT is enabling the industry to do effective condition monitoring and predictive maintenance of such assets.”

Demand trends
Electricity now has become an integral part of our life, and hence we will see massive growth in this sector. This will increase demand in energy generation, transmission and distribution and hence we would need a robust network to handle these demands.

As Siddiqui visualises, “Our electricity substation network has to go through changes in the future due to the advent of renewable energy on the supply side and EV charging stations on the demand side. Thus, many existing substations would need upgrades, and new substations would be designed considering the changes mentioned above and their impact. I, therefore, see an important role to be played by T&M technology in keeping these networks in continuous service and improved performance and reliability.”

The growth in power demand and the need for a better power infrastructure in the country. Yelegaonkar says, “In the recent years, we have witnessed an exponential increase in the demands of power for domestic, industrialas well as commercial segment leading to an enhanced power generation and supply requirements.”

Prabhakaran adds, “Apart from expanding the network, we need to actively deploy waste reduction mechanisms to reduce the T&D losses. All such developments and improvements can be accomplished if we adopt appropriate and reliable test and measurement methods. The success of any expansion and quality improvement project largely depends on the quality and reliability of the measurements one does.”

Technology upgradation
Technology developments play a key role in the modernisation and growth of any industry. A major role in T&M sector has also played by the latest technology and its inclusion with the instruments and services. According to Yelegaonkar, operations are now driven by concepts like smart, digital and IoT and majority of the T&M instrument are smart and intuitive enough to take care of all your measurement tasks with just one click of the smartphone making the process easy, accurate, fast and reliable. The R&D involved behind aims to evolve the instruments to cope up with the new technologies.

“Engineers across the globe are now enabled to share their learnings, analyse huge data and put results into predictive algorithms, owing to IIoT, AI and ML. Their learning technologies and algorithms are going to change the way we do asset management of any critical assets, like power utility, in near future,” points out Prabhakaran.

According to Siddiqui, since the electricity network is moving towards digitisation, it is also important for the T&M products to go through changes to cater to the changed scenario effectively. He adds, “We are seeing that more and more T&M equipment are coming with the IEC61850 communication protocol. The manufacturers make continuous efforts to reduce the cost of T&M equipment, especially in continuous monitoring. I also believe that the T&M sector will see many changes in the coming years due to the path-breaking innovations in Artificial Intelligence and IoT.”

Latest products & solutions
Leading players in T&M industry are working on continuously on new product developments and innovative solutions. Testo India has just launched the latest thermal imagers, testo 883 with smartphone integration designed to deliver networked thermography. “They are aimed at revolutionising the experience for preventive maintenance in electrical unit, transformers, switch cabinets, substations, transmission lines, solar PV plants and the entire power sector,” says Yelegaonkar. Testo also provides high-end thermal imagers, testo 890 that can be used to conduct thermal inspections in transmission lines of up to 765 kV voltage level, using a super telephoto lens with correspondingly high resolution, conveniently from the ground.

Siddiqui adds, “As part of our latest offering in the market, we focus a lot on the continuous monitoring of HV & EHV assets. Our transmission networks are now also operating at 765 kV & 1200 kV level. We provide continuous online monitoring solution for all electrical equipment of that domain.”

Fluke has already launched its sensors and software solutions for condition-based asset management. According to Prabhakaran, the recently launched Fluke sonic imagers have given a shot in the arms of utility managers. He adds, “They can now safely and quickly find the invisible, slow-poison – Partial discharge – in high voltage assets. These products from Fluke are revolutionising the way to detect partial discharge and helping the utility engineers to arrest any unwanted failures and blackouts.”

“All developments and improvements can be accomplished if we adopt appropriate and reliable test and measurement methods.’‘  Prabhakaran V, Head – Product Management, Fluke India.

”Continuous thermal inspection becomes a mandate for the entire power sector.” Parag Yelegaonkar, General Manager – Gov. Business, Testo India Pvt. Ltd.

We are seeing that more and more T&M equipment are coming with the IEC-61850 communication protocol.”Imteyaz Siddiqui, Regional Area Manager – South Asia & GCC, Altanova India Pvt. Ltd.

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