Managing your supply chain must include monitoring of the effective delivery of energy


To most manufacturers the management of the supply chain is the ‘just in time’ stock control system of the components required to produce their end product.  Effective energy management, whether electricity or gas, is often assessed by the facilities management department on a simple cost to supply basis.

Therefore isn’t it time for you to reassess your energy supply by viewing it as an essential component, whose security of supply is as important as the key elements of your production schedule?  After all your contracts with suppliers are likely to include service level agreements covering delivery, stock levels and potentially penalties for the lack of supply.  Electricity is the ultimate  just in time component; you hold no stock, its delivered to site as need arises and if it fails so does your entire production effort.

It’s down to risk management, it’s down to criticality, and it’s down to the fact that without the high voltage (HV) power grid your factory grinds to a halt.

There are two key constituents to the HV grid; cables and switchgear.  Both sit there, slowly deteriorating over time until they are either replaced or fail.  There is though a way of identifying those elements that are in danger of failing.  Partial Discharge….

Partial Discharge is an electrical discharge or spark that bridges a small portion of the insulation between two conducting electrodes. This is commonly known as Partial Discharge (PD) activity and can occur at any point in the insulation system where the electric field strength exceeds the breakdown strength of that portion of the insulating material. PD can also occur in voids within solid insulation, across the surface of insulating material or within gas bubbles in liquid insulation.

Realistically you do not need to fully understand what PD is, but you do need to understand the benefits that active PD monitoring of your assets can give you.  It can give you early warning of potential network failures as well as providing you with a method of justifying your investments and decreasing negative consequences to your business.