Transformer Tuesday: Battling brain drain

This is the ninth installment of our blog series, “Transformer Tuesday,” brought to you by VIA’s Will Chapman. In this series, we’ll address how leading utilities use VIA’s GDAC™ solution to manage their substation transformers with greater ease, insight, and cost effectiveness.

Grid reliability requires thoughtful preventative maintenance and replacements of critical assets like substation transformers. With soaring retirement rates and a tough hiring market, many utilities are faced with making hard asset health decisions with limited time and historical knowledge.

Taking a step back

Take a minute to put yourself in the shoes of an asset manager.

You are responsible for creating multi-year asset plans to address grid infrastructure vulnerabilities and replacement strategies.

There are dozens of different pieces of equipment at each substation and knowing the performance and health of each asset is both an essential and ongoing challenge.

Utility Asset Manager

You, like many others on your team, rely on the expertise of long-standing experts in your company who have acquired years of insight into an asset. They can provide colorful context and guidance on what happened historically or how to interpret certain results.

Your most knowledgeable expert is set to retire at the end of the year. How will you transfer all the knowledge you don’t know? You don’t even know what you need to ask about certain assets!

To make the best use of your most valuable assets with years of knowledge, experience, and pattern recognition, you need a way to transfer that critical insight to the new workforce.

Navigating the realities of the times

With 50% of the utility workforce set to retire within the next 10 years, the electricity sector having difficulties hiring replacement personnel, and the vast amounts of experience and knowledge needed to have a deep understanding of asset performance and health, there is a potential looming threat to reliability efforts. 

Thoughtful data analysis can help to address reliability challenges caused by limited organizational knowledge of transformer health.

Pooling the shared knowledge and analysis of a single utility’s transformer fleet with the analysis of other utilities’ transformer fleets allows you to predict the future health condition multiple years in advance.

How thoughtful analysis helps to ensure reliability

VIA’s Global Data Asset Collaborative™ (GDAC™) has all of the above ingredients to make thoughtful and accessible analysis to ensure reliability!  

The web-based GDAC™ portal conveniently flags high risk transformers so that utility employees don’t have to manually aggregate and analyze data across multiple databases and reports.

The “Highest Risk Transformers” report flags transformers most at risk of failure.

With this insight, asset experts and strategic planners can filter and customize their searches on factors they are most interested in. Identifying early indicators of condition decline or trends in recent failures can be done in several clicks – giving utilities valuable time back when creating their asset management planning.

A transformer flagged for Dissolved Gas Analysis (DGA) concerns.

GDAC™ provides downloadable, visual reports so utilities can provide any supporting evidence to replacement recommendations, including private multi-utility benchmark comparisons. With this unique capability, utilities can see how the health of their individual transformers stack up against transformers owned by other utilities, like what you see below.

Want to expand your organization’s transformer knowledge base?

Reach out to me on LinkedIn or email to set up some time to chat about how GDAC™ can help you plan for the future.