Limited capital budgets require aging power equipment to be maintained for as long as possible. But there’s also an ongoing need for optimal reliability: System downtime costs organizations millions of dollars each year.
Managing this balance is challenging, and it becomes more difficult and costlier when the equipment is a mix of lifecycles and logos.
Most U.S. commercial/industrial facilities tend to have a variety of electrical equipment throughout their footprint because their power systems were built and maintained over several years, with the “low bidders” for each year providing the electrical equipment. This variation might “save” in the short run, but it can add real costs to power system maintenance.
Simple and Lower-Cost Switchgear
The good news is that modernization solutions—an alternative to replacing aging switchgear—take from 15 minutes to a few hours to install and can standardize a facility’s switchgear to modern standards.
The solutions are simple to maintain, and so require fewer resources and less costly to maintain. But the bigger benefit is that reliability and safety of the power distribution system improve as the risks associated with unplanned outages and aging equipment decline.
How do they work?
Replacement and retrofill low voltage and medium voltage solutions adapt the latest-technology circuit breakers into your existing OEM-built switchgear or switchboard cell. This allows for an upgrade of the active components without disturbing the cables in most cases— and taking on the risk and challenge of an outage replacement.
Cost-saving benefits kick in immediately and include:
Lowered maintenance requirements across switchgear equipment
Each manufacturer’s switchgear operates, racks and is maintained differently. Switchgear modernization solutions operate and rack in the same way regardless of installed equipment brand—with no scheduled breaker rebuilds, adjustment or lubrication required.
Fewer spare-parts inventory and less inventory management
These solutions eliminate the need to locate and stock a variety of spare parts for a variety of manufacturers. Facilities usually have multiple frame sizes of breakers in their system, each with its own required maintenance and different spare part requirements. With modernization, there’s one set of spare parts for all frame sizes, regardless of how many OEMs’ breakers are replaced.
Streamlined after-sales vendor management
With system-wide switchgear modernization, all of a facility’s switchgear would have the same warranty or extended warranty, the same vendor and the same lifecycle. Vendor management is more streamlined and easier to manage.
Standard and modernized capabilities across switchgear
Is your organization investing in new technologies, such as IoT-enabled remote monitoring? The trend is to expand automation and reduce the need for human-machine interaction for safer, standardized maintenance. Modernized switchgear is ready for the IoT and other and data advances.
Additionally, modern equipment has features that aging switchgear doesn’t:
- Arc flash mitigation: Circuit breaker or relay settings near the source of power could have significant delays allowing for coordination of downstream devices. By contrast, optical relays can visually detect fault conditions and quickly clear them.
- Intelligent relays with metering and communications capability: Modern switchgear can accommodate engineered controls, such as an Over-Current Protective Device (OCPD), that mitigate arc flash and thus reduce escalation to an event.
- Remote racking capability: Remote racking removes operators from the potential “blast envelope,” so they can perform the racking operation from a safe distance.
- Higher circuit interruption capabilities: Breakers within the OEM cradles can be replaced with a higher interrupting version. (The system will need to be inspected to verify that the bus bracing is adequate for the higher levels.)
- Shutters on low voltage equipment: Some replacement breakers are available with shutters for an additional layer of insulation between people and the energized components.
The Benefits of Modernization Await
Switchgear modernization is a win-win for facility owners with aging and or mixed-OEM electrical distribution equipment. Facilities can upgrade to the latest, safest technology with a replacement strategy rather than costly rip-and-replace.
Solutions can be customized to fit any need and offer an easy path to standardized, streamlined maintenance over the long term. Costs drop while safety and reliability improve.
Find your perfect modernization solution by contacting us.