Increasing reliability through continuous and remote substation asset monitoring

Conditioned-based maintenance (CBM) is essential for electric utilities and most utilities have initiatives and investments to realize these goals. The use of thermography is a well-proven technique for monitoring conditions and detecting faults in electrical equipment.

With much of equipment at the electrical power substations nearing the end of useful life, the potential for faults or the complete failure of these devices due to their age increases. Use of thermal imaging to detect equipment problems is attractive since the non-contact nature of the technique allows assessments to be done safely while equipment is in operation.

Optimized maintenance concepts in this industry call for automated methods that are data driven. New advancements in data anomaly analysis and continuous monitoring of critical substation connections and assets, such as transformers, capacitor banks etc., provide an automated early-warning detection of developing failures. Electric utilities need an automated, data-driven method to analyze electrical equipment.

By deploying thermal imaging systems at critical locations throughout the electrical power distribution system, electric utilities have continuous, online monitoring without the personnel constraints and limited resources. Furthermore, the safety and reliability of the substation equipment is increased and the loss of the distribution of electrical power from a major asset failure can be prevented.

Automated & Remote Thermal Imaging Monitoring

LumaSense TS724-DV system in operation

Designed with advanced maintenance-free electronics, the ThermalSpection™ 724 system by LumaSense offers a high degree of accuracy for demanding electric power utilities while accurately measuring asset temperature without contact in even the most adverse environments. This system allows utilities to continuously monitor the temperature profile and long-term thermal trends of assets within an electrical power substation remotely. This allows for incredible condition-based maintenance by allowing operators to automatically detect temperature deviations from normal operating conditions in real-time.

Thermal and visual image of a substation

The ThermalSpection™ 724 Dual Vision – Pan Tilt (TS724 DV-PT) system includes both thermal and visual imagers in a hardened enclosure on a positioner with a continuous 360° pan range and tilt range of ±45°. The enclosure protects the cameras from weather and temperature changes and uses a solid state cooling system for reliable, long-term installation. The solution can combine multiple devices, including optional fixed thermal imagers and fixed single point infrared pyrometers, for the most comprehensive system solution for monitoring electric power substations.

Data Automation and Informing Users

Each TS724DV-PT system also includes a stainless steel junction box with all of the necessary hardware for power and data transfer, including a hardened umbilical cable to easily connect the camera to the junction box. This cable serves as the communication link from the camera to the controller and allows for quick access to the camera’s thermal readings and configuration options.

The local controller can be a utility-approved computer or a server from LumaSense which will run the included LumaSpec RT software. This software allows the user to define automated “inspection tours” of the substation or industrial setting to monitor multiple areas. Operators can also use the software pan and tilt controls for manual positioning. Data from the controller is also published to existing data historians, for example PI from OSIsoft, using Modbus or OPC protocols.

System Network

In parallel, data can optionally be published to a Microsoft SQL database using LumaTrend server. This provides a central repository for data and images from substation and plants throughout a user’s enterprise. With such a system, centralized engineering and operations staff can easily review data and images from all camera from anywhere on the corporate network. The data collected by the cameras can be put in the hands of experts, wherever they may be. The thermal images and temperature data can also be setup to trigger alarms, automatically publish reports, and perform retrospective analysis.

LumaTrend analyzes that data over time using built-in industry standard analytics to help provide early detection of problems and can use the images to create time-elapsed video (both infrared and visual) of the equipment monitored. Because of this technology, this software can help identify transient thermal events not detectable with manual inspections.

Since this software uses authenticated web browser access, users can capture, access, and analyze data on managed assets remotely. Users can set up email notifications for reports, alarms, and warnings. Real-time notifications can be sent to experts who then review the data, suggest additional investigative action, and schedule conditioned-based maintenance.

Realizing CBM using fully automated data collection and analysis

System Communication / Data Exchange

By replacing periodic, error-prone manual inspections with a more rigorous and continuous automated monitoring system, utilities gain a more accurate picture of the actual condition of aging assets and high voltage equipment in their substations and grid. The end result is a sustainable, effective conditioned-based maintenance program not only for utilities, but also for industrial settings such as detecting hot spots in fuel storage facilities, high temperature furnaces and vessels.

LumaSense Technologies GmbH

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