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Research Study: Transformer Failure Seriously Impacts Business Continuity

Nov. 6, 2018
Transformer failure is a concern for more than 80 percent of industry professionals surveyed for the recent MIDEL Transformer Risk Report.

Transformer failure is a concern for more than 80 percent of industry professionals surveyed for the recent MIDEL Transformer Risk Report. This failure puts business continuity at risk, according to the study. 

Six in 10 respondents had experienced transformer failure in the last five years, and five in 10 said transformer failure would significantly impact or halt their business operations. 

“Transformers are critical components of our electricity infrastructure, but the impact and extent of transformer failure is not widely documented," says  Barry Menzies, managing director global of MIDEL. “The MIDEL Transformer Risk Report shines a light on transformer failure and the findings are clear: it has a significant and prolonged impact on businesses. An interruption to business operations can be very expensive, demonstrate poor corporate social responsibility and impact business continuity."

The good news, however, is that many of the causes of transformer failure are largely within the operators' control, he says.

“It’s relatively straightforward to replace old equipment and components and upgrade maintenance regimes; however, the survey suggests a level of concern that indicates industry needs to think more strategically about asset management and dedicate more resources to mitigating the risk of failure," he says. 

By surveying original equipment manufacturers, industry consultants and transmission and distribution operators, MIDEL aimed to enhance industry understanding of the failure of transformers; a crucial but often overlooked part of electricity infrastructure, according to the company. The resulting report assesses the impact, levels of concern and general industry attitudes towards transformer failure. 

Results indicate that many businesses’ operations would be hugely disrupted in the event of a failure. Notably 71% of respondents indicated it would take in excess of three days to reinstate power supply following a transformer failure, with 11% of respondents saying it could take six months or more. The quality of equipment and components is considered as a top option for reducing transformer risk by 87% of respondents, followed by maintenance schedules (76%) indicating the importance of considering transformer failure from the outset.

“It’s great to see that industry already recognizes the benefit of using high-quality components and equipment from the outset and the benefit of scheduled maintenance to reduce the risk of transformer failure,” Menzies says. 

However, in addition to safety, the maintenance of transformers, or the lack thereof, was cited as the top cause for concern by respondents (61%), while nearly 70% said driving down operating and maintenance costs is a key motivator for improving transformer performance, indicating a potential conflict when it comes to cost versus maintenance scheduling.

“Safety will always be a top priority but operations and maintenance also weigh heavily on transformer owners and operators. Companies are feeling the strain of ongoing operation and maintenance costs, which worries them as they recognise the importance of a good O&M regime” continued Barry Menzies. 

The responses suggest that maintenance is also key for environmental protection; nearly 80% said planned maintenance is a top measure for protecting the environment around transformers, with containment structures (65%) and bio-degradable transformer fluids (61%) as the next most popular options.

“Transformer failure risk is taken very seriously, and it stands to reason that transformer owners and operators would do everything in their power to reduce it," Menzies says. “It’s reassuring to see an industry so mindful of its duty to both human and environmental safety and making tangible efforts to protect both alongside their own assets. This shows a positive and proactive attitude when it comes to transformer risk.”

 Download the full report here


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