ABB's submersible transformer inspection robot wins major industry award

ABBMonday, July 1, 2019

ABB’s free-swimming robot that redefines transformer inspection services recently received the 2019 ‘Power Product of the Year’ award.

On May 30, ABB was presented an Electrical Review Excellence award for its ABB Abilityinspection for transformers — TXplore — in the ‘Power Product of the Year’ category. Electrical Review is the leading electrical industry publication in the UK.

The judging panel, under the leadership of the highly-respected industry figure — Prof. Ian F. Bitterlin, consulting engineer and visiting professor at University of Leeds, was impressed by the capability of TXplore to make transformer inspection a much safer activity while also boosting asset availability for power grid operators.

While there have been major advances in monitoring and diagnostic technology for power transformers, there are still times when an internal inspection is required. The traditional approach requires an outage lasting three or more days, while the oil is drained to enable a technician to climb inside the unit. Following a successful inspection, the transformer must then be refilled before re-starting operation.

In contrast, the new TXplore service uses a free-swimming submersible robot to capture images and video and transmit them via a wireless connection. Because the oil stays in place throughout, there is no need to drain the oil or send a technician into the oily, sensitive and hazardous interior.

Not only is this much safer, the transformer is usually back on line the same or next day.

Receiving the award on behalf of ABB was Richard Holliday, ABB UK market manager for transformers, who said, “TXplore is just one element within ABB’s developing portfolio of products and services that provide our customers with sophisticated digital maintenance and asset management capabilities to deliver a complete real-time picture of how their critical assets are performing.”

Richard continued, “We are delighted to have won this award from Electrical Review. It is the culmination of an intense development effort and is a powerful confirmation from the industry of the potential of TXplore to redefine transformer inspections.”

ABB, a power and automation technology company, completed a major expansion of its small power transformer operations in South Boston in 2008 that brought the total employment to 600 by the end of that year.

The ABB South Boston facility that originally opened in 1968 now produces liquid-cooled power transformers up to 75 Mega-Volt-Amps and 161 Kilo-Volt-Amps as a result of the expansion. The plant ships approximately 2,000 units per year to major utility, industrial and government users.

ABB is a leader in power and automation technologies that enable utility and industry customers to improve their performance while lowering environmental impact. The ABB Group of companies operates in around 100 countries and employs more than 110,000 people.

From The Gazette Virginian