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Schneider Electric Premset installation upgrades Limpopo substation

  • Stable electricity supply comes to Limpopo province
  • Breakers operate under flood conditions
  • Plug and play systems assist ease of replacement

Schneider Electric has installed the first of its new-generation Schneider Premset SSIS (Shielded, Solid Insulation System) modular switchgears at the Stubb Street Substation in Makhado (Louis Trichardt), Limpopo Province.

It is the first of the five substations to be renovated in line with the municipality’s top priority to maintain a stable electricity supply, as the town continues to develop.

After assessing the constant failure on the breakers within the substation, the municipality’s engineers concluded that the existing systems were obsolete and took a decision to redesign the substations that needed urgent attention. Following the engineers’ research into breakers, the municipality requested Schneider Electric to provide a site visit.

“Schneider Electric engineers invited us to Polokwane, where they were showcasing the SSIS technology. We were impressed with the Premset Switchgear features and benefits,” explains engineering technician, Shumani Mundalamo. “A follow up visit was done to Schneider Electric’s manufacturing facility in Midrand. At the manufacturing plant, the necessary technical queries were addressed. After the in-depth clarifications, Premset was recommended to management as a potential solution. The Premset installation at Stubb Street Substation was completed in December 2017. The substation went from being a rather noisy, often failing and difficult-to-maintain system, to a quiet substation.

“Since the installation of the switchgear, the frequent trips which came with the rains became a thing of the past. The partial discharge sound from the substation disappeared. The smart grid features that come with the switchgear make diagnosis easier,” he said.

SSIS provides maximum safety 

Premset uses solid and shielded insulation, which offers unprecedented safety, efficiency and ease of use.

The main circuit components are insulated by a layer of solid material, covered by an external conductive coating with ground potential. There is no electric field in the ambient air, because live conductors and the ground are confined within the switchgear enclosure.

“Premset is a breakthrough innovation that combines the Schneider Electric expertise in air-insulated switchgear and gas-insulated switchgear to deliver the innovation of a SSIS that reduces internal arcing risk for increased safety,” says Roland Bartle, Solutions Applications Engineer Energy BU for Schneider Electric. “This represents the future of medium voltage distribution, embracing intelligent connectivity to bring a new level of efficiency to help meet the growing demand for power, especially for critical power industries in need such as data centres, utilities and healthcare.”

Premset includes:

  • Shielded Solid Insulation System (SSIS) and screening of all live parts, ensuring unmatched safety and reliability;
  • Simple, flexible, modular design makes it easy to install, upgrade and maintain, thanks to SSIS technology; and
  • Advanced protection, control and monitoring technology is fully integrated for higher reliability and energy efficiency.

It enables simplified network upgrades, with the ability to leverage the same accessories and monitoring devices across the entire range. The ‘plug and play’ design allows for on-site additions that do not require special adjustments. It is designed with standardised dimensions, reduced footprint and simple front accessible power connections, Premset reduces installation time and cost and, with readily available Schneider Electric services team, downtimes are minimised.

On the ground satisfaction

Nthambeleni Tshikovhi, maintenance superintendent for Makhado’s substations, adds, “With the old systems, we had big maintenance problems because getting parts to repair the switchgears was very difficult. With the new Premset, availability of repair parts is assured and all the information required for maintenance is at our fingertips. With over 15 years working with switchgears, the Premset switchgear appeals to me as the best technology.”

Stephan Jansen, Makhado’s safety superintendent for electricity, agreed, saying, “With all the safety features offered by the Premset, keeping the substation functioning safely and securely has become a much easier task.”

“With the current field performance of Premset, the municipality will always consider SSIS technology as an option for the switchgear systems,” concludes Mundalamo.