The Advantages Of Partial Discharge Monitoring

Posted by adairsawyer on August 28th, 2011

Among the worst fears of any operations manager who has to deal with large high voltage equipment is the breakdown or failure of that equipment. Most of the time, high voltage equipment such as transformers, switchgears, motors and generators are an integral part of the power supply and the breakdown or failure of a single machine also takes the entire power supply offline. While a great many operations managers have been caught unawares by such occurrences, which appear to take place without any warning whatsoever, the truth is that there is ample warning if only you know where and how to look for it. The development of partial discharge motors, for example, can easily be detected with a partial discharge monitoring system and the problem addressed before it can become too serious.

The term partial discharge motors does not refer to a certain type of motor but more to the state of motors that have had their insulation compromised by minute flaws but that are not yet on the brink of failure. Partial discharge is the term used to refer to the movement of electricity from one point on the insulator to another – a phenomenon caused by small cracks or gaps having developed in the insulation material, thus allowing electricity to escape and travel through the air. This happens when the strength of the electric field is able to exceed the breakdown threshold of the insulation material.

Most of the time, partial discharge motors develop simply because the motor has been in use for a long period of time and the insulation materials used in the partial discharge motors have aged. As an insulator ages, its breakdown threshold decreases, thus making it possible for partial discharge motors to develop.

When scientists realized that the tiny imperfections in partial discharge motors were a precursor to much larger failures, companies began to make use of that knowledge to develop systems of sensors that would allow for partial discharge monitoring. Today, partial discharge monitoring systems provide continuous surveillance of high voltage equipment and are able to detect the relatively minute indicators that are evidence of the presence of partial discharge.

Partial discharge motors, for example, give off electrical, acoustic and gaseous indicators that can be detected by specialized partial discharge monitoring systems. A comprehensive partial discharge monitoring system will have a bank of sensors tracking the presence of all three different indicators, thus giving the highest chance of detection of the development of partial discharge motors, among other high voltage equipment.

Once a partial discharge monitoring system identifies the presence of a partial discharge motors, the next step is to address each problem individually. This means scheduling each of the partial discharge motors to be taken offline at different times and thoroughly examined by a team of experts who can then recommend whether repairs will suffice or if the entire machine needs to be replaced. By staggering the inspections, you can keep all or most of your operations running even as you have each of the partial discharge motors checked, thereby minimizing the negative effect on your operations and thereby keeping the cost of repairs as low as possible.

Partial discharge motors represent a hazard to your operations that you simply cannot afford to be ignorant of and with the right partial discharge monitoring system from Dynamic Ratings, you no longer need to fear a sudden breakdown of your equipment.

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