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New methods for Switchgear

testing and analysis

The demands being placed on switchgear testing are
increasing constantly. At the same time less and less
personnel are available to carry out test tasks in the various
sectors of electrical power supply systems. As a consequence,
individual testers often do not have the expert knowledge
required to assess recorded measurement data and results
with sufficient accuracy. The growing challenge for test
technology today is therefore to provide testers with tools to
automate test execution and analysis.

High-voltage switchgear equipment

is located at the nodes of electrical
power supply systems. For this
reason they are required to be
extremely reliable. Switchgear
devices are constantly subjected to
external influences such as dirt,
humidity and temperature
fluctuations. They are frequently not
operated for years at a time but
under fault conditions they must still
switch reliably within the shortest
possible time up to as many as 20
times or more in the case of a
malfunction connected with a
thunder storm, for example.
It is essential that the relevant
device parameters are measured
and checked regularly independently Fig 1. "ACTAS C16" Stationary test system for testing vacuum MV breakers
of the maintenance cycles defined in
the revision plan, to ensure that shape and timing of the operating medium-voltage circuit breaker with
preventative action can be taken at currents just one interrupter assembly per
an early stage if changes in of trip coils provide important clues pole and a three-pole spring drive is
switching behaviour are detected. as to the state they are in: changes therefore much less demanding than
Various mechanical and electrical in the operating forces caused by testing a high-voltage circuit
parameters must be I investigated mechanical wear, for example, breaker with four interrupter
for a full assessment of switchgear usually have a direct and assemblies and a single-pole
performance. These parameters perceptible effect on the amplitude hydraulic drive. The test sets of the
include main contact velocity, main and shape of the coil current. For ACTAS range (ACTAS - Advanced
contact travel and the operating this reason, modern switchgear test Circuit Breaker Test and Analysing
times of all switching contacts. systems should be able to provide System) manufactured by KoCoS
Deviations from the rated values are synchronous measurements of coil Messtechnik AG in Korbach,
an indication of defects in the drive operating currents, the operating Germany [1] (fig.1) can be adapted
or switching chamber. In addition currents of spring-tensioning or to perform any type of test task
to mechanical parameters, electrical pump motors, valve pressures, thanks to their modular construction
parameters are also important valve travel and mechanical main and flexible test software. If
indicators of faults in the making. contact travel, in addition to specialist hardware is necessary for
For instance, the amplitudes, capturing main and auxiliary contact a specific test, these hardware
state. Only then is it possible to requirements can be met by the
determine all the parameters with a ACTAS modular system. "Dynamic
decisive effect on switchgear timing" as provided by the ACTAS
Dipl.-Ing. Frank Richter (39), VDE, performance and assess conditions P16DYN test set (fig.2) is a good
studied electrical power inside a switchgear device without example of this.
engineering at the University of even having to open the drive, let
Kassel before working in the power
industry for a number of years. He
alone the arcing chambers.
is currently Head of Research and Specialized hardware
Development at KoCoS
Messtechnik AG and has been requirements: dynamic
involved in the field of switchgear timing
test technology for over ten years.
E-mail:Frichter@kocos.com The number of analogue and binary
signals to be measured varies
depending on the class and design
of the switchgear. Testing a
to the very last revision test. This This parameter would normally be
applies to test specifications and evaluated positively in itself but
methods, test hardware and data would be the result of a
formats. KoCoS provides a whole simultaneous measurement of
range of ACTAS test sets with closing time and contact travel
hardware which is specially can prevent misinterpretations
designed for each specific here. maladjustment in this case.
application. All the test sets are Only the simultaneous
configured and operated using the measurement of closing time and
same software. Records from test contact travel can prevent
instruments made by other misinterpretations here.
manufacturers can be imported Automated evaluation :
via various software interfaces.
Similarly, the data captured by
reference characteristics
Fig 2. "ACTAS P16DYN" allows dynamic ACTAS can of course be exported Like most modern test systems,
timing tests in various formats for further ACTAS carries out a comprehensive
processing and analysis. evaluation of recorded
• Secondly, it should be possible to measurements using downstream
The "dynamic timing" method can software with expert functionality.
be used for high-voltage circuit determine all the measurement
values and parameters necessary The job of the software is to assess
breakers with graphite contacts for the recorded data fully
which traditional comparator for assessing switchgear
performance in a single test run. automatically, reliably and
measurement methods fail. The informatively. Generally the
problem with this type of contact is It follows that the test set must
be able to accommodate the assessment of individual parameters
that due to the different contact is carried out using limit values
materials a clear, digital connection and measurement of
all signals at the same time. The saved in the software, most of which
characteristic of contact resistance is are dependent on constructional
not available for analysis in the case test instrument must therefore
have an appropriate number of principles. However, this method
of close operations. Indeed random does not always work as a number
bounce in conjunction with analogue in- and outputs as well
as sufficient data storage of parameters are also mutually
pronounced analogue behaviour of dependent upon one another. In
the resistance characteristic often capacity. The significance of this
point is seen in the proper light such cases the aim is to find a
occur. A simple on/off differentiation balance of all influenced parameters.
with fixed operating points does not when it is considered that,
depending on the drive type, a A comparison of the measured
work here. The test method signal characteristics with reference
employed by ACTAS involves the typical switching operation
including all related processes characteristics is the obvious
analogue measurement of contact solution. The idea is that when none
resistances being carried out via six (spring tensioning, readjustment
of the drive pressure, etc.) can of the measured signal
separate Kelvin measurement characteristics extend beyond a
circuits simultaneously (four-wire take up to 60 seconds and
requires a resolution of up to 0.1 defined tolerance band surrounding
method) with a d.c. measurement the reference characteristic, then all
current of 10 A in each case. The millisecond. Similarly, on the
evaluation side it is not enough to the parameters of decisive
evaluation software then correlates importance will also be within the
the recorded measurement values look at individual parameters in
isolation as various parameters defined limits.
with an idealized resistance IEC 62271-100:2003-05 [3]
characteristic using an algorithm can influence each other. For
instance, if the contact wipe requires this method for the
homologated by Siemens [2] to assessment of the mechanical
obtain the significant switching (overlap) of the main contacts is
too small, a shorter closing time behaviour of high-voltage circuit
points. "ACTAS P16DYN" was the breakers. The reference
first test system in the world to offer can be the consequence.
the option of carrying out a dynamic
time measurement on up to six
arcing chambers simultaneously.
This test method has an important
spin-off from a safety point of view:
switchgear can remain earthed on
both sides during a test.
Integral Testing
The concept of "integral switchgear
testing" comprises two basic
• Firstly, the test technology
employed should provide
comprehensive coverage across
the entire lifespan of a switchgear
device "from the cradle to the
grave", while affording access to
reference measurements at all
times. For this purpose, all tests
must be carried out according to
the same method, starting from
initial experiments in the
development phase and
continuing on throughlife-time
tests, type, routine and
commissioning tests right on up Fig 3. Measured signal characteristics can be evaluated automatically by the software
characteristics to be used for the manufacturer in the test plans for
assessment of measured curves can subsequent tests. Leading
be obtained during type tests, for switchgear manufacturers such as
example. The reference ABB [4], Alstom [5] and Siemens
characteristics can be defined and rely on ACTAS in all the areas
analysed purely digitally: the high- mentioned above.
speed and light-spot recorders
commonly used in the past have Literature
long been replaced by digital, real- [1]KoCoS Messtechnik AG, Korbach:
time test systems and the dynamic www.kocos.com
recording of mechanical travel via [2]Siemens
analogue or incremental AG,Erlangen:www.siemens.com
potentiometers is now standard [3]IEC 62271-100:2003-05 High-
practice. voltage switch-
As all the necessary information is gear and controlgear – Part 100::High-
available digitally, the evaluation of voltage
measured signal characteristics can alternating-current circuit-breakers.
be carried out automatically by the Genever/
Switzerland:Bureau Central de la
software (fig.3). This involves a
check being made in accordance
Electrotechnique Internationale
with the standard as to whether the [4]ABB,Ladenburg:www.abb.com
measured travel characteristics lie [5]Alstom,Frankfurt/M:www.alstom.de
outside the limit curves defined by
the reference characteristic and the
configured tolerances at any point in
time. The limit curves are defined by
simple tolerance vectors in relation
to the reference characteristic, such
as ±2 mm absolute or ±5 % of
static contact travel, for example. As
a rule, reference characteristics and
measured signals are synchronised
on the time axis using the switching
times of the main contacts.
The latest version of the ACTAS
evaluation software fully supports
the generation and application of
reference characteristics as
stipulated in IEC 62271-100:2003-
05 [3]. The scope of the standard
has been extended to the effect that
not only travel-time curves, but also
any other signals such as coil
currents or valve pressures (in the
case of circuit breakers with
pneumatic drives) may be assessed
by reference characteristics. This
allows signals which can only be
inadequately characterised using
individual parameters such as
amplitude or duration to be
subjected to precise and accurate
assessment for the first time.
As reference characteristics may
originate from external systems or
exist in the form of idealized curves,
ACTAS supports the import of
characteristics via a universal ASCII
interface. This means that idealized
characteristics can be constructed in
MS-Excel® using only a small
number of interpolation points
before being imported to ACTAS. In
addition, any signals measured
previously using ACTAS may of
course be defined as reference
characteristics. This is particularly
useful as ACTAS provides a
comprehensive switchgear test
solution from development, through
final factory tests and continuing on
up to on-site check tests:
measurements recorded during
development can be saved as
reference characteristics by the