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A new lease of life for MV switchgear

28 November 2011

A new retrofit and upgrade service has been launched that enables outdated and ageing oil or air blast medium voltage (MV) switch gear, and/or electromechanical and early generation electronic protection relays - from the majority of UK suppliers - to be upgraded to the latest technology

ABB has a launched a bespoke retrofit and upgrade service that offers a cost-effective alternative to the complete replacement of outdated switchboards, providing a new lease of life for existing installations, with the emphasis on increased safety and reliability as well as enhanced functionality. In many cases, the original fixed switch gear housing is likely to be in good condition and can be retained, extending its life by a further 25 years simply by replacing the circuit breaker and/or the protection relays.

The retrofit and upgrade service can increase the operating safety and reliability of an installation by making use of the latest developments in interlocks and enhanced short circuit ratings. It also reduces maintenance requirements and environmental impact as well as reducing fire risk from ageing circuit breakers and eliminating hazardous materials such as asbestos. Furthermore, the use of the latest circuit breaker technology eases problems with availability of spare parts and can extend the service life of the switch gear by up to 25 years.

Retrofit and upgrade: the advantages
ABB’s service covers the vast majority of UK legacy switch gear from its own product portfolio as well as that from other manufacturers, with hundreds of retrofit and circuit protection permutations available.

Retrofitting and upgrading can enable faster re-closing times as well as taking advantage of advanced communications options for both upstream and downstream equipment, including bus communication between the breaker and circuit panel, interfacing with network protection and control schemes and remote breaker operation. It can also provide the capability to adopt up-to-date safety systems such as ABB’s REA Arc-Flash protection.

The service is a particularly cost-effective option compared with a new installation, with savings as much as 70 percent claimed. It also allows the work to be carried out in a staged manner, incremental upgrades being based on operational expenditure rather than capital investment. This progressive upgrade approach can also reduce the need for system downtime as site disruption is minimised and there is no need to disturb or replace cables when retrofitting a circuit breaker.

Broad coverage
The service is tailored to meet the needs of all operators of MV distribution networks from 3.3kV to 11kV, including utilities, distribution network owners and industrial or commercial customers. It covers the supply of an ‘all-new’ design incorporating new primary and secondary contacts and bushings etc, with new equipment manufactured and tested at the factory and delivered to site by ABB ready for installation. This means that the existing switch gear can be kept in operation right up until the change-over, minimising potential delays and production downtime.


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