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Transformer inspection via remotely operated robot

11 December 2018

ABB is launching its ABB AbilityTM TXploreTM in the UK so that transformer operators can reduce risk as well as duration of outages on critical assets. Service features digital inspection by remotely operated robot and team of two technicians while transformer oil remains in place.

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 a 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.

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.