Electrical transformers across the globe will soon be having meaningful "conversations" about their health and performance with advanced data modeling systems and engineers at GE's global network of monitoring centers for asset optimization in Melbourne, Fla., Montreal, Canada, and Lisburn, Northern Ireland, following the introduction of GE's Smart Grid Asset Optimization solution.
GE's Asset Optimization solution can reduce the risk of unplanned outages and unexpected failure by up to 80% for a full range of transformers-from arc furnace transformers used in industrial applications to generation, transmission and distribution transformers on the power grid.
GE Energy's engineers will remotely monitor transformer performance, uncover potential problems and help proactively reduce outages by identifying potential transformer failure conditions before alarms are raised. GE's focus on prevention also helps eliminate wasted time and money associated with performing routine inspection on healthy transformers that are not in need of service.
"Worldwide, there is a critical need for infrastructure examination and preservation," said Bob Gilligan, vice president, transmission and distribution at GE Energy.
The transformer challenge is clear in the numbers:
- More than 50% of the transformers currently in use are at or approaching the end of their design life cycle. 
- On average, 50% of the skilled maintenance, design and replacement labor force in the United States is approaching retirement within the next 10 years-with a shortage of replacement personnel in the pipeline.
- A shortage of worldwide manufacturing capacity has extended the wait for new transformers to more than a year.
GE's comprehensive solution includes advanced 8-gas and 3-gas monitoring solutions to indicate status. GE also is able to monitor the transformer's most critical components-including tap changers and bushings.
Using advanced predictive modeling software and comparative analysis, GE engineers can identify impending failure to guide repair or replacement decisions. Additionally, GE can predict potential problems and recommend corrective action before transformers go "offline"-helping customers avoid regulatory penalties, revenue loss and environmental consequences associated with unexpected failure.
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 Reder, Wanda. "Managing the Talent Challenge. Presentation." Presentation. IEEE President Elect. June 2006.