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ABB’s TXplore service to enhance safety for UK’s aging transformer fleet

07 November 2018

ABB is launching its ABB Ability TXplore in the UK so that transformer operators can reduce risk as well as duration of outages on critical assets.

Many transformers in the UK are more than 30 years old and continue to play an essential role in the transmission and distribution of electricity. Over time, stresses on the power grid such as over voltages and short circuits can cause wear and tear to transformers’ internal components. In addition, because of the transition to renewable energy, many transformers are experiencing load conditions today that they were not originally designed for.

As a result, operators schedule regular inspection to gain detailed insight into the internal condition of their assets – and carry out maintenance before issues can develop.

The conventional approach to inspecting transformers requires taking a unit out of service before draining it down. A technician will then enter the transformer to visually check the condition of components such as the windings, tap changer, insulation, gaskets and seals. This is a complex process that requires a risk assessment and a confined space entry, as well as time for cooling, draining down and oil handling. It can require an outage with a total duration of three or more days.

TXplore will enhance safety by eliminating the confined space risk to the technician, as well as risk of the technician causing damage while inside the transformer. Because the oil stays in place throughout the inspection, TXplore also eliminates environmental and safety risks from oil spillage and enables a full inspection to completed in less than a day.

Jamie Stapleton, ABB’s digital leader for transformers said: “Having delivered the first robotic inspection on a 50-year-old transformer for a North American utility, ABB is launching the TXplore service in the UK to help operators control risk and limit the duration of outages for critical assets.”

TXplore is part of the ABB Ability platform of digital products and services that is connecting industrial operators to the Industrial Internet of Things. The digital inspection data can be shared with transformer experts and decision-makers anywhere in the world in almost real-time and it can also form a baseline to compare asset condition during future inspections.

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