Transformers in Short Supply: How Real-time Monitoring Can Keep the Lights On

Apr 10, 2023

Transformers are an essential part of the electrical grid infrastructure, as they are responsible for regulating voltage and transferring electrical energy between different parts of the grid. Without transformers, it would be impossible to transmit electricity over long distances or to deliver it to homes and businesses at the right voltage. Despite their importance, there is currently a shortage of transformers in many regions across the world. This shortage can be attributed to a variety of factors, including increased demand for electricity, supply chain disruptions, and a lack of investment in new transformer manufacturing facilities.

Compounding the issue is the fact that the average cost of transformers has nearly doubled since 2020. This increase in cost is due to several factors, including rising prices of raw materials like copper and steel, increased transportation costs, and a shortage of skilled labor to manufacture transformers. As a result of the shortage and increased costs, lead times for ordering transformers have extended beyond a year in some cases. This can have significant consequences for utilities and other industry partners who need to replace aging transformers or expand their capacity to meet growing demand for electricity.

Amid the ongoing shortage of transformers, numerous electrical utilities have begun deploying monitoring solutions to mitigate its effects on their operations. Monitoring critical assets can help address the transformer shortage in several ways.

  1. Monitoring transformers can help utilities and other industry partners optimize the use of existing transformers by providing real-time data on their performance and condition. This can help identify potential issues before they become serious problems, allowing for predictive maintenance, and reducing the need for premature replacements.

  2. Utilities can identify areas where they can improve efficiency and reduce electricity waste through real-time transformer health data and automated threshold alarms. By analyzing data on transformer usage and performance, industry partners can identify opportunities to reduce energy losses and improve the reliability of the electrical grid. Further, by monitoring power factor in real-time, utilities can also identify areas where there is a low power factor, indicating that the electrical load is not being efficiently utilized. This information can be used to adjust transformer capacity and improve the power factor, reducing energy waste and improving the efficiency of the electrical grid.

  3. Operators can make informed decisions about when and where to invest in new transformers. By analyzing data on transformer usage and performance over time, industry partners can identify areas where demand for electricity is growing and where existing transformers may be reaching the end of their useful life. This information can help utilities and other industry partners prioritize investments in new transformers and ensure that they are deployed where they are needed most.

When it comes to monitoring, one of the most important things to consider is taking a comprehensive and integrated approach. Monitoring the state of health of a transformer is a complex task that needs to consider numerous factors that may affect performance and overall health. Electrical, thermal, mechanical, and chemical parameters are crucial in identifying the root cause of any problems with operations. Neglecting any of these parameters can lead to incorrect assessments and can cause significant safety risks.

By implementing a comprehensive and integrated monitoring approach, engineers and technicians can gain a more accurate understanding of the transformer's performance, allowing them to identify potential issues before they become major problems. This proactive approach can extend the useful life of the transformer, improve its reliability, and reduce the risk of costly failures and downtime. With the current shortage of transformers, this approach can help electrical utilities manage their available resources more effectively and ensure the continuous supply of electricity to customers. Therefore, a comprehensive and integrated monitoring approach not only optimizes the performance of existing transformers but also helps mitigate the impact of the transformer shortage on the electrical grid, making it an essential tool for the energy sector.


Integrating Remote Monitoring

If you're looking to deploy a comprehensive transformer state-of-health monitoring solution that enables you to set up customized alarms and notifications for proactive maintenance, consider the INCON™ Distribution Transformer Monitor.

The INCON™ Distribution Transformer Monitor is a cutting-edge monitoring system that leverages advanced technologies, including wireless sensors and cloud-based analytics, to provide real-time monitoring and analysis of transformer performance. It allows utilities to detect potential issues before they escalate into major problems, improving the reliability of their electrical grids and reducing maintenance costs.

With its customizable alarm and notification features, the INCON™ Distribution Transformer Monitor enables utilities to set up alerts based on their specific requirements, providing them with the flexibility to tailor their maintenance schedules and prevent costly downtime. The system also offers remote access to real-time data and analysis, enabling engineers and technicians to monitor transformer health from anywhere, at any time.

Overall, the INCON™ Distribution Transformer Monitor is a powerful and versatile solution for transformer state-of-health monitoring that can help utilities optimize their operations, reduce costs, and ensure the continuous supply of electricity to their customers, especially during the transformer shortage.




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