I first met Matt Zawicki at Distributech this February at the G&W booth. Matt, a senior marketing specialist, was standing next to this tank full of water. G&W was demonstrating its submersible Trident switchgear in it. You could say that they were presenting the Trident under its best light - but in this case the conditions were even more challenging as they were showing the Trident performing in an environment that would be a watery grave for traditional switchgear.
Matt invited me to stop by the factory the next time I was in the Chicago area and I took him up on his offer within the month. When I arrived at their new facility in Bolingbrook, Illinois, I learned that G&W had moved to this new facility in 2012, which has triple the square feet of the former facility. Owner/CEO John Mueller is quite proud of this facility and personally took me around for the tour. Having done plant inspections for a living back when I worked at Georgia Power, I can state that this place is quite impressive. We started where raw materials entered the facility and followed the process until we could witness the finished product being packaged for shipment. I naturally migrated to the inspecting and testing areas of the facility for a deeper dive. I found their high-voltage testing lab to be quite impressive.
Karla Trost, senior global product manager, joined us on the tour and filled in the details of manufacturing that we engineers love to hear. I was particularly tickled to see individual lines producing switchgear for both domestic IOUs and international customers.
As much as I enjoyed the tour, I also enjoyed attending ComEd’s Engineer’s Day the next day. Terrence Donnelly, the ComEd COO kicked off the event with a review of all the slick things its engineers are doing. And front-and-center on one of his slides was ComEd field crews putting up a Viper recloser, one of the more than 600 intelligent switching devices being installed each year at this utility. Pretty slick. These Viper reclosers come pre- wired at the plant so that less field work is required.
Probably the highlight of the tour was the training and demonstration center where folk like me can put G&W switchgear through their paces. Here utility line personnel and engineers can get comfortable with the operating characteristics of the switchgear before they are installed on their system.