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Core Team, SP Consultancy Work

1.0 Introduction:

Deregulation in power sector has abolished the age-old concept of supplier-wise licensed area
and has given option to the electricity consumers to choose the suppliers. As a result, foreseeing
the strong competition, the utilities are now taking all out measures to improve power quality and
reduce selling price to the extent possible to keep them geared up. The utilities, therefore, are
now forced to improve power quality by taking measures to reduce breakdown outages and
increase the mean time between failure (MTBF) and cut cost at all corners, of course, without
endangering steady supply of electricity to the demanding customers. Capital-intensive
replacement is being judiciously taken by extending as much life as possible of the existing old
equipment which have crossed their normal designed life. Hence close health monitoring and
taking corrective measures at the right time for the right plant are the vital needs of the day.

Further, in almost every utility, numerous equipment, currently in operation, have reached a
considerable age well beyond 30 years; might be close to their nominal end of life. A failure of the
equipment means not only cost for repair / replacement but also considerable extra costs for lost
sales of energy and environmental damages.

These are the reasons why continuous Condition Monitoring (CM) for incipient fault detection
and ageing assessment of equipment is an important part of a modern maintenance strategy.
Change-over to (i) condition based maintenance from time based maintenance and (ii) condition
based replacement from conservative replacement are also taking place as a cost economy

2.0 Condition Monitoring Techniques:

The primary assets of concern in a T&D network are Transformer, Switchgear / Circuit Breaker,
Cables / Transmission Line, Yard equipment like CT, PT, LA, Isolator etc. and last but not the
least, Battery.

Beside the age-old condition monitoring techniques like measurement of Insulation Resistance for
solid insulation, Electric Strength (BDV) for liquid insulation, Specific Gravity for Battery-Cell etc,
many new techniques have come up over the years increasing the ambit of monitoring for
different equipment. Condition monitoring techniques now being widely used by the leading
utilities are as given in the Table-1. Out of them the most dividend-paying techniques are:

Infrared (IR) Thermography:

IR Thermography is an inexpensive technique on condition monitoring

through the use of infrared imaging. Although infrared systems are
limiting in that they can only measure the temperature of exposed
surface, they can reveal quite a lot in a substation yard. The
magnitude of temperature can assist in deciding whether the repair
should occur immediately or be done during scheduled maintenance.

Equipment Area of Monitoring Technology

Power Transformer Health of Liquid Insulation Testing of Insulation Strength,
(Transformer Oil) Acidity, Moisture Content, Flash
Point etc.
Health of Composite Insulation Testing of Insulation Resistance, PI
(windings paper insulation, and Tan
insulating boards, oil etc.) PDC analysis for assessing
moisture content in Solid Insulation
Furan Analysis of Oil
Internal faults in transformers DGA Monitoring (On-line/Off-line)
active parts
Winding deformation, if any Freq. Response Analysis (FRA)
OLTC Monitoring LTC parameters
OIP type terminal bushing Monitoring of Tan (On-line/Off-
Transformers O/D termination IR Thermography
Indoor Switchboard Health of Insulation and joints PD monitoring
& RMU Any high-resistant joints IR Thermography
Circuit Breaker Interrupter and Operating Contact Resistant Measurement &
Mechanism Speed-Time Characteristics check
Dynamic Contact Resistance
Measurement (DCRM)
Control Circuit Trip/Close Coil Supervision Scheme
Yard Equipment Any high-resistant joints IR Thermography
Outdoor CT Health of Composite Insulation Monitoring of Tan
(windings paper insulation, PD monitoring
insulating boards, oil etc.) DGA monitoring
Capacitor Bank Any high-resistant joints IR Thermography
Health of Insulation and contact PD monitoring
Lightning Arrester Insulation health Leakage Current Monitoring (LCM)
Battery Health of the Battery Cells Monitoring Sp. Gr. & Cell Voltage
Health of the Cells and Cells Discharge Test
connectors Monitoring Cells internal resistance
Cable Health of Cable Run and Joints OWTS
Transmission Line Any high-resistant joints IR Thermography
Dist. Transformer Insulation health PD monitoring in HT Boxes
Any high-resistant joints IR Thermography
Oil Level Oil level monitoring
DGA Monitoring: During service life of a transformer, degeneration of its solid and liquid insulation
takes place at pace depending upon its loading. Degeneration of insulation produces H2, CO, CO2
and hydro-carbon gases like, CH4, C2H6, C2H4, C2H2 etc. These gases remain dissolved in the oil
till they reach their respective solubility limit (function of temperature). In case of any abnormality
inside the transformer like cellulose overheating, oil overheating and arcing, corona or partial
discharge etc. the generation rate for the gases increase depending upon the nature and severity
of fault. When the concentration of any gas exceeds the solubility limit, it gets accumulated in the
buchholz relay.

Concentration of the dissolved gases in the oil indicates

healthiness or any abnormality (with probable nature of
fault) in the transformer.

Gas Chromatograph detects and quantifies the

component gases dissolved in the sample oil and the
established interpretation techniques help detection of
Gas-Chromatograph any abnormality in the transformer.

Partial Discharge (PD) Monitoring: PD activity accounts for the largest percentage of disruptive
failures of electrical equipment. Early detection of PD activity provides an early warning of
problems and can prevent failure of equipment.

There are two established techniques for detection of PD

in indoor Air Insulated Switchboard (AIS). One based on
ultrasonic detection technique and the other based upon
Transient Earth Voltage (TEV) measurement. These two
techniques are complimentary and enable a
comprehensive assessment of the condition of insulation.

A. Ultrasound Detection Technique: Arcing, tracking and corona all produce some form of
ionization which disturbs the air molecules around it and produce high frequency noise. The
Ultrasound equipment translates the high frequency noise into the audible ranges. Electrical
discharges are heard as a frying or buzzing sound.

B. TEV measurement: When the PD occurs, electromagnetic waves propagate away from the
discharge site. Very small quantity (pico-coulombs) of electrical charge is transferred (in a few
nanoseconds) capacitively from the high voltage conductor system to the earthed metal-
cladding. At an opening in the metal cladding such as the gasketted joints, the
electromagnetic wave propagate out into free space. The wave then generates a transient
earth voltage on the metal surface.

Strong odor of Ozone, presence of whitish to bluish green powder due to formation of nitrous acid
from ionization, colour fading and dark tracks on insulation near conductors, usually with a
"treeing" pattern are common effects of PD.
3.0 Prevailing Condition Monitoring Practices in CESC:

CESC, as one of the leading Indian utility, is also practicing condition monitoring in some of the
important areas since long. It may be shared with the young engineers that checking trip circuit
healthy in switchgear along with taking hourly load reading of Incomers / Feeders is a laid down
practice in CESC since time immemorial, in all manned Stations. Monitoring of power transformer
through routine oil sampling for determining electric strength, moisture content, acidity etc is an
established practice over 2 decades. DGA monitoring of power transformer is in practice since
1997. Thermo-graphic scanning of outdoor yard has been introduced in 1994-95. Condition
monitoring activities, so far practiced in CESC, are as highlighted (yellow) in the above chart.

4.0 New Inclusions in the Condition Monitoring Drives:

CESC has introduced FRA (Frequency Response Analysis) for power transformers since 2009-
10. New transformer during long transportation may get accidental shock and transformer in
service may experience short circuit which may cause winding deformation. FRA is a recent
technology now being used by the utilities for assessing mechanical healthiness of the winding.

Condition monitoring of Indoor air-insulated switchboard through detection of partial discharge

(PD) using acoustic technique and TEV has also been introduced in 2009-10. Since then, PD
detected in different equipment is as follows:

33 kV Swbd. at 6 kV / 11 kV 6 kV / 11 kV Sw at 6 kV / 11 kV RMU at 6 kV / 11 kV
S/S and D/S Swbd at D/S downstream of D/S downstream of D/S Dist. Transf.

9 41 29 20 13

Condition monitoring activities, newly introduced in CESC, are as highlighted (green) in the above

5.0 Maintenance Practice in CESC and the Changes:

Maintenance programs in CESC have historically been based on maintenance schedules

recommended by original equipment manufacturers. CESCs current maintenance practice is a
mixture of time-based maintenance, condition-base maintenance and corrective maintenance.

Maintenance Work Type of Maintenance Remarks

Transformers Tap-Changer Maintenance

1) (a) Selector Maintenance Condition-based or Time-

based whichever is earlier

(b) Diverter Mtce. of old-generation Time-based Suitable CM

Transformer measures not

(36% population) available

2) Diverter Mtce. of new-generation Time-based Provision for

Transformer suitable CM
(28% population) measures under
3) Maintenance of Integrated Sel.-Div. Unit Condition-based or Time-
(36% population) based whichever is earlier

Transformers Oil Filtration / Dry-out Condition-based

Transformers Terminal Bushing Replacement Condition-based

Yard Equipment - Terminals Condition-based

Circuit Breaker Maintenance in D/S and S/S Time-based Non-intrusion

Maintenance of busbar chamber of Indoor AIS Time-based PD mapping

in D/S and S/S introduced as

CM measure
Maintenance of circuit chamber of Indoor AIS Corrective

Mtce. of CBs in D/S-downstream network Corrective

Distribution Transformer Corrective

Battery Maintenance / Replacement Condition-based

However, in view of large number of operations, dusty environment and absence of suitable non-
intrusion CM techniques for assessing the operating mechanism in the circuit breaker, time-based
maintenance (at cycle based on experience) is essential for ensuring their reliability.

6.0 Case Studies on Condition Monitoring:

Case-1 DGA monitoring of Transformer

Transformer No.: T-2 at Auckland Square D/S

Capacity: 20 MVA kV: 33/11-6 Commissioned on: 12/6/99

History: The transformer tripped through buchholz and differential protection on 22/9/09. On
inspection no accumulation of gas was found in the buchholz relay and also no abnormality was
detected in the subsequent LV / HV tests. But the post-tripping DGA result indicated high
concentration of key gases, specially C2H2 and H2. The DGA results were indicating high
temperature arcing in the oil. It was then kept in charged condition (without load) till Durga-Puja
end (for meeting exigency during Puja days, if any) and was under close DGA monitoring. DGA
results of samples taken on different dates are:

Date H2 CH4 C2H6 C2H4 C2H2 CO CO2 Remarks

(ppm) (ppm) (ppm) (ppm) (ppm) (ppm) (ppm)
27/8/08 16 34 31 4 0 562 4626 Routine monitoring
14/7/09 17 41 34 5 0 482 4005 Routine monitoring
22/9/09 92 65 41 35 89 550 4374 Post tripping
23/9/09 272 70 34 34 110 491 3832 On load
24/9/09 356 88 40 43 132 524 4910 Charged, without load
27/9/09 284 80 41 33 125 537 5267 Charged, without load
28/9/09 298 93 41 34 124 550 4929 Charged, without load
29/9/09 247 74 34 26 102 442 4169 Charged, without load
1/10/09 399 81 37 38 105 509 4639 Charged, without load
It was noted that the rise in the gas concentration level in the transformer stopped after its off-
loading. On 2/10/09, internal inspection carried out when one tap lead (No.5) of R-ph found to
have high-resistant short-circuit with two tap leads (No.2 and 3) of Y-ph.

The transformer was re-commissioned on the same day in fixed tap after temporary repair of the
damaged leads and put on load. On 10/10/09, another shutdown was taken for carrying out
proper repair of the damaged leads and the normalcy was restored on the same day.

Date H2 CH4 C2H6 C2H4 C2H2 CO CO2 Remarks

(ppm) (ppm) (ppm) (ppm) (ppm) (ppm) (ppm)
5/10/09 246 78 39 39 104 468 4315 On load, at fixed tap
13/10/09 189 65 39 32 90 381 4769 On load with normal
OLTC operation
20/10/09 13 2 3 2 2 9 301 At the end of oil
filtration (commenced
on 16/10/09)

Oil filtration carried for purging out the dissolved gases after ensuring no further abnormal
generation of gases inside the transformer. Post repair DGA results are as above.

Case-2 IR Thermography of Outdoor yard

Routine IR Thermography of outdoor yards, carried out in last summer has detected quite a few
cases of high resistant joints of varying abnormalities. The defects are being rectified
progressively as per their severity and availability of shutdown for the equipment / circuits.

Excerpt from the report of above scanning, incorporating the finding in each case, is as given in
the chart for reference.

Scanned on: End May 09 Temperature

Case Station Equipment Load Point of R Y B Amb Image Findings
/ Circuit (A) High Joint (oC) (oC) (oC) (oC)
1 Maj. S/S Transf. T1 805 33 kV Terminal 182 50 53 36 Flexible
Pad Joint connector found
improperly fitted
2 Maj. S/S Chakmir-2 475 Cable Sealing 43 49 153 36 CSE terminal
End (CSE) joint found loose
Terminal Pad

3 New Ballyg. Transf. T2 206 CSE to Pipe 47 52 349 35 Pipe bus clamp
(E) D/S Bus Flex. joint found loose

4 Taratala Sw. Chakmir-2 540 Line CT Stud 49 107 182 36 Terminal

Stn. towards Line connector found
Isolator burnt out

5 Sukchar D/S Transf. T2 146 CSE Terminal 43 41 172 36 Joint found loose
Pad Joint due to severe
rusting of the

Case-3 PD monitoring of Indoor Switchboard

During PD monitoring (through acoustic detector) at Dhakuria D/S on 6/5/09, 35 dB noise along
with acidic smell was detected from the circuit breaker chamber and VT chamber of the 11 kV
panel for transformer T2.

Internal inspection was carried out on 18/5/09, when the following was observed:

1) Surface degeneration of resin-cast components inside the panel like supporting insulators, CT
and VT.

2) Surface degeneration of circuit / busbar barrier boards.

3) Surface degeneration of one fibre-glass support holding the VT fuses of all three phase.
Defective resin-cast components, barrier boards and fibre-glass VT fuse support replaced. Post
work noise measurement indicated removal of the causes for noise in the referred panel.

7.0 Future Pathway:

Continuous knowledge updating and induction of available new techniques in the related fields
are of vital need of the day to enhance the coverage of condition monitoring drives and assess
equipment health more accurately. Induction of techniques like moisture estimation in paper
insulation in transformer, furan analysis of oil for estimation of degeneration of paper insulation in
transformer, DCRM for circuit breaker, in future, will facilitate more precise health monitoring of
the network equipment.

8.0 Conclusion:

In todays competitive age, utilities are faced with what seems to be an impossible situation
maintaining or improving network reliability while working with reduced staffing and declining
maintenance budgets. Engineers are showing themselves to be remarkably resourceful in
developing or locating monitoring systems that provide the key data required to schedule
maintenance in a more cost effective manner. As the industry continues to restructure and evolve,
utility personnel will continue to use advanced technologies to deliver reliable power to their