A digital transformation is evolving the way our buildings operate worldwide. A few of the essential elements of this transformation revolutionized industrial and building automation systems. The digitization of both low voltage (LV) and medium voltage (MV) level electrical distribution systems was another step in the right direction. Increasingly penetrating these systems are digital power and energy meters, smart circuit breakers, communication networks, and robust analytic applications. In this article, we will inspect new trends in MV monitoring and how they are helping in solving problems such as safety and life-span. 

Here are some common problems faced by MV systems - 

  • Electrical insulation breakdown
  • Loose connections
  • Breaker racing 
  • Faulty ground protection
  • Water penetration from various sources 

Installation and/or maintenance errors may be the primary factors leading to these issues. However, many can also result from other problems arising from premature ageing of components. Medium voltage electrical equipment generally comes with a rating of expected lifespan under natural conditions, it often has to function in hostile environments that can deteriorate components over time.

The digital transformation of MV systems is helping solve all the worries listed above. Simply put, it offers the operations teams an enhanced level of visibility inside their MV assets on a regular basis. By attaining greater insights into equipment conditions, the workforce or project managers can take proactive actions as opposed to reactive measures in terms of handling unforeseen problems, which helps lower downtime. Additionally, the ability of advanced level acumen regarding equipment conditions can support a more holistic view. This can enable a predictive maintenance approach to help avoid failures, as well as minimizing maintenance requirements and costs.

Developments in sensor technology and the Internet-of-Things (IoT) are promoting comprehensive analysis and monitoring of critical points throughout an MV system. For ageing electrical equipment, the fundamental problems faced are temperature, humidity, pollutants, and load factor. Each of these factors can be regulated with the right sensors and metering. For example, innovations in thermal sensing technology are allowing sensors to be connected to connection points on busbars or conductors inside switchgear, control panels, or power transformer. These thermal sensors will consistently lookout for any abnormal temperature rise, which may outline a loose connection that could eventually lead to electrical arcing, failure, and fire.

These and other similar types of sensors and smart devices can be linked to a wide variety of communication network technologies to productively transfer data to locally-hosted or centralized cloud-based analytic applications. Leading brands like #SchneiderElectric have propelled smart technology and IoT-based innovations aimed to increase efficiency and output in power management systems#LifeIsOn.