Why servicing and maintenance are essential in electrical engineering

by Scriba PR

Alongside our regular stream of headline-grabbing EPC and ICP projects – which help to generate power for our homes and businesses – our ‘services and infrastructure’ division is often the unsung hero of Smith Brothers Contracting.

These dedicated teams of engineers and operational staff exist to ensure the safe operation and working condition of your substation assets. And, through various methods of care, should help to prolong the functional lifespan of your prized HV equipment.

Responsible for safeguarding operations and keeping companies online, this savvy squad of electrical engineers has a very important role to play – particularly in times like these. Our dedicated team oversees the continuous delivery of essential High-Voltage (HV) private network maintenance – in order to keep the power on and production in full flow.

Sites with their own HV network will often have substations fitted with switchgear, transformers, protection relays and ancillary tripping or metering devices – and now, more than ever, these operations must be running smoothly.

This is where a Control Operation and Maintenance Agreement (C.O.M.A) with an electrical engineering specialist can help to relieve some of the pressures associated with being liable for the equipment – allowing you to focus on keeping the firm moving

Factors to consider include

  1. Condition monitoring – Providing tailored year-on-year reports to analyse and react to discrepancies, while also assessing the overall equipment health.

  2. Protection grading and tripping – Testing your protective devices to ensure they operate effectively and efficiently under simulated fault conditions.

  3. Earthing integrity – Reviewing and confirming that any HV assets are suitably earthed, and in safe condition.

  4. Partial discharge testing – Checking for signs of stress and localised dielectric breakdown between conductors.

  5. Power quality surveyance – Assessing the effectiveness of your distribution network, measuring harmonics, reactive power and transformer losses.

The benefits of preventative maintenance

It should go without saying, that a lack of routine HV maintenance can be detrimental to any business. You wouldn’t run your car without annual servicing – and MOTs are in place to ensure the vehicle is safe to run.

That same concept applies here, but moreover – consider the potential impact of electrical infrastructure failure. It’s not production that grinds to a halt, there can be an impact on overheads, which will drastically eat into the bottom line.

Extra costs can lead to:

  • Extended production downtime
  • Costly repair bills
  • Longer lead times – including sourcing specialist replacement parts or new equipment
  • Reactive working
  • Temporary generator hire costs – plus fuel
  • Knock-on effects to downstream electrical plant items

Wider health and safety implications

As well as the obvious business implications, it’s important to think about the potential dangers to employees too. How closely positioned is your electrical equipment to daily production and are your on-site electricians suitably qualified – and authorised – to enter substations?

The awareness of switching restrictions (SOPS and DINS), some switchgear is deemed unfit to manually operate, doing so may lead to dangerous circumstances. Consider the potential for fire hazards and knowledge of the rationale behind substation design – to ensure it is well ventilated, has blast-proof doors, and is suitably Earthed.

In addition, you can’t discount the environmental problems associated with oil leaks and faulty insulating cable boxes, as well as dysfunctional transformer bunds and filtration units.

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