The Importance of Reliability

No matter what the industry, the reliability of electrical equipment is essential for the cost efficient operation of the business. Equipment which causes power outages can result in millions of dollars in lost production downtime, or pollution, or cause serious injury or fatality to those in proximity to the failure.

A common cause of electrical outages are bad joints / terminations. These can be caused by a number of factors, including the thermal dynamics of load being switched on/off, causing the joint to expand / contract, and over time become loose, human error by incorrect tightening etc.

The method of detection has previously been periodic (normally annual) thermal inspections using a thermal imaging camera. However, one day per year is just a snapshot in time and represents less than 1% of operational uptime in a 24×7 industry.

The reliability of such inspections to deliver a common standard of fault detection was quite poor, since it is invariably dependent upon the quality and skill of the thermal camera and the operator. In addition, the inspection report issued would rarely take into account the load on the circuit, and could not be integrated as data into the SCADA/DCS/BMS systems of the client.

The Exertherm thermal condition monitoring system provides an unrivalled level of reliability in fault detection and the durability of the sensors. This is essential, as the sensors will be installed inside electrical switchgear enclosures / MCC drawers (buckets), with the intention it is no longer necessary to perform periodic intervention maintenance on bus joints / cable terminations, because you have the thermal condition data obtained via the sensors. 

If sensors technology which requires any maintenance or even replacement during the life of the electrical equipment in which it is installed, this is building in significant additional labour / parts/ production downtime cost for the end user client. There are wireless energy harvesting sensors out there which according to their manufacturer product manual, will require intrusive (e.g. require shutdown of equipment) maintenance every two years ! That equates to an extra 12 shutdowns (with all the associated costs), during the life of the equipment.

Another issue which is a “hot” topic is the use of wireless sensors to detect faults / acquire condition data.  In many cases ( e.g. SAW technology) these “wireless sensors only have a transmission distance of approx. 30cm to a antenna. You will therefore need 2-3 antenna in a column of LV/MV switchgear, ( they don’t fit in MCC drawers ). The antenna are hard wired ! so the claim of being a wireless system is somewhat exaggerated.

However, the key point is that Exertherm has over 150,000 sensors successfully installed world-wide. They are completely passive and require no external power, they come with a Lifetime Warranty / Zero Maintenance level of reliability, which avoids any future costs which are incurred with less reliable sensor technologies.

The increasing adoption of IIOT is accelerating the move from periodic inspection maintenance to condition monitoring. Thus the choice of sensor technology is equally important to the decision to move to monitoring –  select the wrong technology which cannot guarantee the same level of reliability as Exertherm could be a strategic investment mistake.

Contact us today to find out more about how Exertherm can help transform your business

The Industrial Internet of Things

The Industrial Internet of Things  (IIOT) is also known as Industry 4.0, and Industry Digitisation. Essentially it means the connection of industrial electrical and mechanical infrastructure, process machinery and equipment to the internet. The purpose of the connection is to enable the acquisition of condition data, which can then be subsequently analysed to turn the data into commercially useful information. The benefits of IIOT will be global and apply to virtually all industrial sectors, e.g. oil & gas, process industries, logistics, airports, data centers, marine, mining etc etc.

A key part of the IIOT jigsaw is condition monitoring sensors, which are necessary to provide continuous data on the condition of the equipment. Some of the benefits include; identify best performing equipment which can influence future procurement policy; detect and predict developing failure conditions to enable remedial action to be taken in advance of failure; increase safety by removing people from places of risk to obtain the data; provide significant savings to current Opex maintenance costs.

While “digitisation” of large scale businesses is accelerating world-wide, there remains a considerable level of uncertainty about what / how to do, and when to begin implementing policy. Part of the reason for this is that Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) is still in it’s infancy, thus how to turn vast amounts of data into commercially useful information is still developing, albeit at a rapidly accelerating pace.

However, many organisations have realised that what / how the data will be analysed is not immediately essential, as this will change as A.I. continues to advance. What is essential is to include condition monitoring sensors into new build specifications. Not including it will build in obsolescence to this equipment together with the increased cost of installing sensors in the future.

Exertherm provides thermal condition monitoring solutions for electrical equipment including LV/MV switchgear, MCC, and transformers. It is fully tested, accepted and successfully deployed by major OEMs including ABB, Schneider, Eaton, and Siemens.

The Exertherm sensors are provided with a Lifetime Guarantee level of reliability of zero maintenance, thus avoiding any additional future costs of sensor maintenance or replacement for the life of the equipment in which it is installed.

Contact us today to find out more about how Exertherm can help transform your business

Cyber Security

There are 3 critical elements which are required for IIOT (Industry 4.0 etc.). The first is the ability to collect large amounts of data using condition monitoring sensors which are accurate, and reliable. The second is the ability to transmit and store large amounts of data. The recent development of cloud computing now enable this. The third element was the ability to analyse the data and turn it into commercially valuable information. This last requirement requires Artificial Intelligence software. However, this remains in its infancy, albeit accelerating rapidly.

There is obvious concern that transmission of data wirelessly creates the potential for that data to be hacked. There is a widely held view that any wireless sensor/ network can be hacked.  Cloud platforms now have levels of encryption which are improving continually. However, threat areas remain via the use of wireless monitoring sensors, since these have little or no threat prevention, indeed they tend to use common widely used communication protocols which are easily hacked (e.g. Zigbee).

Exertherm utilises hard wired thermal monitoring sensors for electrical equipment such as LV/MV switchgear, MCC, and transformers. The use of hard wired sensors is deliberate since it enable data collection and transfer to a network with zero cyber security risk.  Electrical infrastructure is one of, it most the, most critical of utilities any organisation uses, and it required by every industry. If power is lost then high downtime costs can be incurred, safety compromised, and significant repair / replacement costs spent.

Thus if sensor data can be accessed via the sensor hardware, it is much easier than trying to hack into encrypted and protected networks. If incorrect data is then sent into the network, it can result in power equipment being shut down because it is believed a failure is about to occur. The resulting downtime and operational costs can be significant.

A further benefit of hard wired condition monitoring sensors is the level of long term reliability they provide, which is not possible with the many wireless technologies. Exertherm provides a Lifetime Warranty / Zero maintenance guarantee. That is a very important point when you are installing sensors inside electrical enclosures that you do not want to open.

Contact us today to find out more about how Exertherm can help transform your business