BY TONY MCGRAIL, DOBLE ENGINEERING CO.
The reality is that asset conditions can
change more rapidly than scheduled off-
line testing can identify, leaving organi-
zations vulnerable to costly damages and
potential outages. Having information
delivered in real time gives asset owners
the power to target their intervention
activities, reduce operating and mainte-
nance costs, avoid preventable failures
and reduce business interruptions costs.
Condition monitoring targets known and
identifiable deterioration mechanisms, so
when choosing a monitoring system, it’s
important to take the following steps:
• Identify likely failure modes.
Understand the state of the assets,
where vulnerabilities exist and what
will most likely result in a failure mode.
• Know what to look for. Identify
symptoms that result from the failure
mode and measure parameters which
relate to them.
• Pick a sensor: Use a sensor that can
respond to changes in the measured
parameter in a reasonable amount of time
to allow preventative action to take place.
Condition monitoring is a powerful
tool that can provide great value, but no
monitor will detect every failure mode
because they are not universal and failures may come from external causes. For
example, condition monitoring cannot
identify weather-related issues or animal
incursion problems—unless they lead
to a degree of deterioration rather than
There is no denying that electric utili- ties and owners of large transformers
have more data at their fingertips than ever
before. This can be both a blessing and a
curse: More data should bring clarity, but it
also can bring confusion.
Condition monitoring can supply
more data more frequently to support
asset condition decisions. The reality
is that all assets will eventually fail,
and deteriorating condition is a major
contributor to an increasing likelihood
of failure. That doesn’t mean, however,
that a utility shouldn’t do everything it
can to manage the health of its assets.
Well-done condition monitoring is key
to a holistic view of asset health, and can
immediately alert the transformer owner
of an important condition change.
Planning, strategic thinking and
cross-functional collaboration are
required to avoid confusion and gain value
from condition monitoring programs.
Following are four questions that should
be answered before implementing a condition monitoring program:
1. How do I know condition monitoring
is right for my organization?
Condition monitoring platforms are
on-line systems that can yield real-time
information to support up-to-the-minute
decisions and long-term asset replacement plans. For many years, asset owners have relied on scheduled testing,
maintenance and inspections to obtain
asset condition data to support decisions.
System constraints have made outages
more difficult to plan, however, and the
ability to perform conventional testing
to generate condition data has been
reduced, making it difficult to obtain
even barely adequate data for justifiable
and reliable decisions.
How to Start
Condition Monitoring Programs That Work