There is a mismatch in average product lifecycle between electronics and the heavy mechanical hardware that distribution switchgear is traditionally made of. That makes it very difficult to revise existing switchgear, once installed, up to the currently-trending products included in SmartGrid applications.
For instance- a switch built by Trayer Engineering Corporation 20 years ago still has at least 33% of it’s useful life left right now (under normal operating conditions). 20 years ago the buzz word “SmartGrid” was nonsensical and there were neither data communications hardware designs nor machine-to-machine communications algorithms to make sense of this application of electronics, processors, and data communications media, whether wired or wireless in the world of the “heavy hardware” that defines the switchgear industry.
How, then, shall we match a 30-year product like Trayer’s submersible medium voltage switchgear, with a trend that will come into being halfway through its lifecycle 15 years from now, with technology that hasn’t even been whispered about in R&D think tanks and Universities yet?
The answer is to focus on sturdy mounting brackets and channels, that provide for multiple types of radios, controls and logging equipment, and that can be reduced in size over time, as electronics get smaller – as they inevitably will continue to do. This approach of provisioning grid equipment for the future, now, lends design elegance to the interfaces of the mechanics and materials of heavy hardware.
We are accustomed in our personal lives to “disposable, obsolete goods” such as phones, ageing laptops, and even major appliances for our homes.
On the electric power grid we simply cannot adopt that paradigm, even though we do understand that the electronics we use for data communications and switching control modules may not live as long as heavy hardware switches.
Power companies – even the giants of North America – are struggling with lean capital equipment budgets to replace failing, and poorly-ageing, and overtaxed infrastructure equipment such as switchgear that are still functioning 20 years after initial installation, and oftentimes down wet manholes under streets in densely-populated cities.
These switches and circuit breakers can’t be thrown away and replaced for many reasons including economics, yet mesh data communications networks must increasingly be employed for automation and asset management purposes.
Trayer has multiple options for control, feedback and data communications available for both new switchgear products, and to retrofit some of our existing field population.
Trayer can provision your grid for the future – now.