Smart Transformer: Fault Detection and Communication

January 2020, by Fernando Saldívar- Carlos Gaytán

One of the main issues with the electrical distribution system is its response time to restore the system in the event of a failure. This time is critical, as the longer it takes to stabilize it, the more complaints there will be from end users. Unavoidable natural events (i.e. hurricanes or thunderstorms) can affect the electricity supply system and produce power outages. These situations put energy companies under extreme pressure of speeding up their response time and identify the specific cause of failure.

In situations like this, the most common problem energy companies have is that, since they do not know the specific source of the failure, they must rework and this increases their response time to restore power.

At PROLEC GE, we have developed a Smart Transformer that has (proven and developing) fault detection and communication capabilities, which helps keep operating costs low for companies.

The solution involves 3 elements:

  • Internal Fault Detection Electronic Board: This solution detects evolving faults, identifies transformers with permanent damage in the windings, reduces power outages that are the result of transformer failure, and prevents false-alarm mobilizations, which results in a more efficient use of the resources.
  • Electronic Communication Board: This board uses wireless mesh network radio-frequency technology between transformers, which guarantees communication of the data as it makes use of different ways to communicate the information. All these data are sent to a gateway, which then proceeds to send them to the management system through a GSM (Global System for Mobile) cellular network.
  • Management System: At Prolec GE we have developed our own system, which can manage the transformers used by our clients, users, etc. The data this system shows is both high and low voltage current, transformer secondary voltage and transformer status: Normal Operating status, High voltage winding fault, Fault between windings, Low/High Voltage, Energization / De-energization. This system also offers geolocation, which is a very helpful tool since it helps identify where the transformer is physically located. The system is programmed with the optimal programming languages for the Internet of Things (IoT) application.

In conclusion, this system detects internal electrical faults in the transformer and communicates them to a management system in the Cloud.  With this data the user will know exactly when a transformer needs to be replaced or when changing the fuses would solve the issue.

At Prolec we work together to transform with innovation and attention to the community.