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The Alliance of Test Equipment and Electrical Power Systems

Challenging time for the electric power industry

Today, as the network of wires carrying electricity entangles the globe, the electric power industry faces more and more challenging objectives. Continuing global economic growth results in a steadily rising demand for electrical energy supply. While keeping up with the surging demand for electrification, the utility sector is expected to tackle the problems of bringing down emission levels and avoiding power grid loss. An obvious solution to these issues is the upkeep and modernization of the existing electricity distribution systems along with building new technologically advanced power plants. Innovative solutions are required in engineering and technology which would drive down the cost of electricity production and make energy distribution significantly safer for operators, consumers and the environment.

Another pressing issue is reliability; we have seen a drastic increase in the number of power cuts, which at times leave large areas paralyzed, can easily cause substantial losses and, to crown it all, are potentially life-threatening (the world’s newsfeeds regularly inform on yet another region left without heating, medical care and other things critical for people’s survival as a result of a power outage).

Electrical testing equipment: to protect and to serve

While natural disasters are the most discussed reasons for a major blackout, in the vast majority of cases everything is rather ordinary. Typically, the fault is due to overloading of the electrical grid, a damaged transmission network, faults at power stations and substations, a short circuit, or a combination of these.

The stability and security of electrical grids rely heavily on grid optimization, use of reliable technologies and proper maintenance of the distribution networks. Should a fault occur, the most utility providers can do is minimize the damage by taking timely, efficient measures to identify the fault cause, follow fault location steps and ensure the repair is carried out. Obviously, the fact that prevention is easier than cure is far from being a brand new idea; the good news is that efficient, modern electrical testing equipment is an effective solution in either of these cases, helping to save time, and therefore money, on the way to a safer, more resilient utility grid.

In terms of prevention, electrical testing equipment makes it possible to reveal potential problems due to system overload, protect against electrical faults, lengthen the lifespan of equipment, and minimize damage caused by accidents. To give an example, low insulation resistance may indicate a potential short, something that can be discovered and taken care of in the course of preventive equipment testing. (For those who are not yet convinced of the value of preventive maintenance, I would highlight that it is a requirement of numerous industrial insurance agencies.)

While it is somewhat possible to save on preventive maintenance, it is much trickier to do without electrical testing equipment when a fault does occur. Another ancient but nevertheless true idea is that to offer an effective treatment, a correct diagnosis has to be made first, something that is impossible without electrical testing instruments and systems.

Depending on the needs of personnel who service power grids, a choice between small and portable or complex and multifunctional could be made. Fortunately for end users, when test equipment manufacturers declare an instrument to be ‘small and lightweight’, in many cases this is a description for a tool that can be used for a variety of testing options. However, when a range of diagnostic, location and testing procedures has to be performed, utility operators opt for multifunctional systems which are typically adaptable to the customer’s requirements and are perfect when complex fieldwork is involved.

Development creates need for professionals in testing

The evolution of modern technology has had an immense impact on the way we use today’s high voltage testing solutions. It seems only recently that we were excited about the USB connection, but today we take it for granted that interconnectivity is achieved through wireless data transmission. There have been changes to the way we can view testing results, with the readings displayed on state-of-the-art screens and conveniently organized in colourful tables and graphs. All these developments make electricaltesting equipment infinitely more straightforward, handy, efficient and certainly much more exciting to use.

The fast pace of growth in the energy industry sets a scene where, on the one hand, new additions to energy systems are made every day, and on the other hand, existing power grid elements require continuous maintenance and modernization. Such an environment inevitably keeps electrical test equipment manufacturers on their toes, as they have to continually adjust their product line to an increasingly demanding market, raise their quality standards, provide stellar customer service, and offer competitive pricing enhanced with other attractive perks.

As a closing thought, however revolutionary a piece of testing equipment is, it is vital that utility personnel are properly trained to use it. Only then will they be able to realize the full potential of the instrument’s functionality, ensure an efficient and error-free operation and, most importantly, comply with safety requirement.

Source: Alexei Tiatiushkin – Marketing manager – KEP Power Testing

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