ABB’s TX­plore robot re­de­fines trans­former in­spec­tion

The re­motely driven ro­botic sys­tem helps to in­spect the trans­former, nav­i­gate ef­fec­tively and main­tain the in­tegrity of both the trans­former and its oil

Utilities Middle East - - PRODUCTTS & TECHNOLOGY -

ABB’s new val­i­dated robot in­spec­tion sys­tem, TX­plore, is tai­lored to the com­plex oil­filled trans­former en­vi­ron­ment. Rig­or­ous test­ing pro­vides over­whelm­ing sup­port of ro­botic over hu­man in­ter­nal in­spec­tion in terms of cost, safety and dig­i­tal lever­age.

De­spite the use of non-in­va­sive con­di­tion mon­i­tor­ing tech­niques to de­ter­mine pos­si­ble faults and avoid ad­verse fail­ures in oil-im­mersed trans­form­ers, there are rou­tine and emer­gency sit­u­a­tions that re­quire costly in­ter­nal in­spec­tions with ma­jor risk to both trans­former struc­ture and hu­man in­spec­tors.

Nowa­days, util­i­ties per­form in­ter­nal vis­ual in­spec­tions fol­low­ing light­ning strikes and when there is the need to iso­late the ex­act lo­ca­tion or sever­ity of a fault, mul­ti­ple faults or com­plete a planned re­pair.

In cases such as th­ese, the min­eral oil must be re­moved and stored so that a highly skilled trans­former in­spec­tor can en­ter the haz­ardous en­closed space of the trans­former tank, risk­ing dam­age to both the in­spec­tor and trans­former. The in­spec­tion process also re­quires med­i­cal teams and other ex­pert per­son­nel to be present. Com­monly, dur­ing in­spec­tions, trans­former down­time is three days — seen over­all, in­ter­nal hu­man in­spec­tion has high hu­man and cap­i­tal costs.

With over 200,000 projects com­pleted, ABB is a global leader in the pro­duc­tion, mon­i­tor­ing and main­te­nance of trans­form­ers. Much thought has been de­voted to in­ter­nal in­spec­tions of th­ese de­vices with the aim of low­er­ing cap­i­tal costs, im­prov­ing the ef­fec­tive­ness of in­spec­tion data, low­er­ing the safety risk to hu­mans and trans­former as­sets and re­duc­ing down­time.

In late 2012, ABB pro­posed a con­cept to de­velop a re­motely driven ro­botic sys­tem to op­er­ate re­li­ably and ef­fec­tively within the toxic and frag­ile en­vi­ron­ment of a trans­former unit and elim­i­nate the need for hu­man in­spec­tion. To be a vi­able op­tion for util­i­ties, the re­motely driven ro­botic sys­tem must in­spect the trans­former, nav­i­gate ef­fec­tively and main­tain the in­tegrity of both the trans­former and its oil. High qual­ity vis­ual im­ages and data must be col­lected and trans­mit­ted to ex­ter­nal sys­tems for eval­u­a­tion. A multi-dis­ci­plinary team of sci­en­tists and engi­neers from ABB was formed to de­sign such a sys­tem. The re­sult of their ef­forts is the sub­mersible trans­former in­spec­tion robot now known as TX­plore.

Power trans­form­ers are ex­pen­sive yet crit­i­cal ma­chines that are de­signed and man­u­fac­tured us­ing com­plex en­gi­neer­ing and con­struc­tion meth­ods to deal with stres­sors en­coun­tered dur­ing their life­time - eg, over­volt­age, short-cir­cuit cur­rents, high tem­per­a­ture of wind­ings and con­tam­i­nants.

The cir­cu­la­tion of in­su­lat­ing oil al­lows heat to be re­moved from the wind­ings and is cru­cial to the health of the trans­former. Any ob­ject, in­clud­ing a robot, which en­ters the trans­former must pre­serve the in­tegrity of the oil. For this rea­son, ABB de­signed the en­tirely new TX­plore sys­tem.

Much thought has been de­voted to in­ter­nal in­spec­tions of trans­form­ers

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