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Retrofit and upgrade service provides a new lease of life for MV switchgear

13 September 2011

ABB has a launched a bespoke retrofit and upgrade service that now enables outdated and ageing oil or airblast medium voltage (MV) switchgear from the majority of UK suppliers to be upgraded to the latest vacuum circuit breaker technology. The service offers a cost-effective alternative to the complete replacement of outdated switchboards by offering a new lease of life for existing installations, with the emphasis on increased safety and reliability as well as enhanced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 switchgear housing is in good condition and can be retained. This makes it possible to extend its life by a further 25 years simply by replacing the circuit breaker and/or the protection relays, making it the ideal option for mid-life upgrade projects.

A key advantage of the retrofit and upgrade service is that it provides a bespoke approach, drawing on ABB’s wide range of MV products and technologies to offer the ideal, cost-effective solution for every installation. The solution also comes with the full technical support and backup of ABB’s UK-wide service team.

Retrofit and upgrade for improved safety and reliability
The retrofit and upgrade service can increase the operating safety and reliability of the installation by utilizing 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 switchgear by up to 25 years.

Retrofit and upgrade for flexibility
ABB’s retrofit and upgrade service is designed to cover the vast majority of UK legacy switchgear from both ABB and other manufacturers, with hundreds of retrofit and circuit protection permutations available.

Retrofit and upgrade for enhanced functionality
Retrofitting and upgrading can enable faster reclosing 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 state-of-the-art safety systems such as ABB’s REA Arc-Flash protection.

Retrofit and upgrade for reduced costs and minimal downtime
Retrofitting and upgrading offers a very cost-effective overall solution compared with a new installation, with typical savings of up to 70 percent. There is also the possibility to carry out the work as staged, incremental upgrades based on operational expenditure (OPEX) rather than capital investment (CAPEX). This progressive upgrade approach can also reduce the need for system downtime as site disruption is minimized and there is no need to disturb or replace cables when retrofitting a circuit breaker.

Total retrofit and upgrade service
ABB’s total retrofit and upgrade service is tailored to meet the needs of all operators of medium voltage (MV) distribution networks from 3.3 kV up to 11 kV, including utilities, DNOs and industrial or commercial customers. It covers the supply of an ‘all-new’ design incorporating new primary and secondary contacts and bushings etc.

The new equipment is manufactured and tested at the factory and delivered to site by ABB ready for installation. This means that the existing switchgear can be kept in operation right up until the change-over, minimizing potential delays and production downtime.

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