Emerson expands partial discharge testing and monitoring

June 22, 2009

AUSTIN, Texas -- Emerson announces that it is increasing the scope of its Electrical Reliability Services partial discharge (PD) testing for electrical cables to include switchgear and other electrical assets commonly found in commercial and industrial facilities, including manufacturing and process industries. PD testing identifies signs of insulation deterioration caused by small electrical sparks (partial discharges). This insulation breakdown is the leading cause of electrical failures. An expanded Partial Discharge Testing & Monitoring solution will help companies eliminate unplanned outages due to electrical failures, reduce maintenance costs, increase system reliability, and improve worker safety.

The Partial Discharge Testing & Monitoring solution encompasses both online (while equipment is energized) and offline testing, as well as periodic monitoring of selected electrical assets, to identify potential trouble spots and prevent unexpected, costly outages. Users can also choose permanent installation of sensors inside switchgear, so that energized equipment can be tested easily and safely without exposing personnel to the equipment.

Online continuous monitoring is an emerging technology for critical assets that are aging or have demonstrated high levels of partial discharge. Online partial discharge testing is conducted under actual operating conditions, temperatures, voltage stresses and vibration levels. For critical round-the-clock operations, this type of non-destructive testing is the best way to identify PD activity that can result in insulation breakdown.

Advanced software captures the waveforms of PD pulses and other electrical activity using high-speed data acquisition technologies and differentiates between types of PD activity, such as cable PD, switchgear PD and electrical noise. On-the-spot assessment of the insulation condition also includes magnitude of PD activity. This allows Electrical Reliability Services engineers to evaluate the condition of the equipment and recommend a cost-effective plan focused on monitoring a plant’s most at-risk assets.

Emerson also has expertise in other diagnostic capabilities for electrical equipment, including ultrasonics, offline PD testing, Tan-Delta testing and very low frequency (VLF) testing.