If you have ever driven by an electrical transformer, then you have seen switchgear. The importance of switchgear maintenance cannot be overstated, since switchgear is designed to cut off electricity when a problem occurs.
Think of switchgear like the fuse box in your home, when an electrical circuit overloads your fuse box shuts that circuit down. Take that idea from your home and put it on part of an electrical substation and you can begin to understand what switchgear is and how important the correct comprehensive switchgear maintenance program is.
Over the years switchgears have been made from various materials, understanding what kind you have, whether it is oil filled or air blast vacuum switchgear maintenance is of high importance. Deciding what kind of maintenance program you will have depends on the switchgear’s usage.
Types of Switchgear Maintenance Programs
Determining how the switchgear maintenance will be conducted usually comes down to how important that portion of the grid is. It must be understood that since switchgear is attached to the electrical grid, it is an important piece of the electric producing puzzle.
There are basically three types of maintenance programs that most areas use; constant monitoring, run to fail, and a combination of the two. Choosing the correct one can mean the difference no problems, or a large amount of down time.
In the constant monitoring plan for switchgear maintenance, the equipment is usually hooked to a computer system that is always giving update on the different pieces of the machinery. There is a planned maintenance and testing schedule and this routine maintenance is carried out periodically.
The main drawback of this maintenance plan is that it is cost prohibitive, and requires someone whose soul duties are concerned with the maintenance program. This is the type of plan for switchgear connected to a very important part of the grid.
Run to Failure
Run to failure switchgear maintenance is the most cost-effective form of program. In this plan, no routine maintenance is done. The equipment is simply allowed to run until it needs repaired, while this is the least expensive option, it can only be used in an area where having to shut down part of the grid, will not have a huge effect on anything.
Using the combination of the two types of switchgear maintenance is the most used. In this maintenance plan, certain parts of the equipment such as warning lights are left to be repaired only when they stop working. Other more important parts are on a maintenance schedule and tested regularly. This plan works well when the shutdown cost of this equipment outweighs the cost of the maintenance schedule.
Determining a type of plan for you switchgear maintenance, comes down to two considerations. How important is this part of the grid and balancing the cost of maintenance with the cost of shut down. What you choose is up to you, as long as you keep in mind that no one wants to be without power.