Online Transformer Monitoring System

October 26, 2023 5 min. read

What is Transformer Monitoring?

Electrical utilities and industrial corporations around the world rely heavily on transformers as key assets to maintain a reliable source of energy. The less downtime the better, because it's bad for business. 

To utilities unforeseen power outages can mean thousands of inconvenienced and unhappy customers. No heating and lighting tends to create a lot of unwanted attention – and very quickly too. In industrial facilities unforeseen power outages bring production to a stop immediately and often cause expensive damage to complex machinery. 

In worst cases, transformer failures can even be dangerous to both employees and the public. Yet many of these situations are completely preventable if you know the condition of each transformer, their load profiles, and their weak spots.

Benefits of a Transformer Monitoring System

Paying close attention to the performance of transformers will not only prevent accidents, but also ensure higher reliability, longer lifespan and reduced business risks by:

  • Providing better safety 
  • Reducing the number of unexpected failures
  • Reducing downtime
  • Defer reinvestments
  • Reducing the cost of on-site analysis

This is the purpose of any transformer monitoring system. They actively register various operation parameters and trigger alarms if values drift too far from standard tolerances. Like if a transformer becomes more noisy or begins to vibrate more than what is within acceptable limits.

How remote Transformer Monitoring System works

To collect data from transformers one or more sensors must be installed. They will need a power supply and a way of transmitting registered data to a central datahub for analysis and user presentation. Typically, by using some form of internet connection.

In case installation of a Transformer Monitoring System requires physical changes to the given transformer it will have shut down. Like if the sensor(s) has to be installed using special tooling, or if power has to be supplied as part of the transformer installation. This will not only cause extra downtime. It’s also time consuming as there are many safety precautions associated with performing a high voltage transformer shutdown. 

In fact, a shutdown also represents a risk in itself, as it may provoke certain types of failures, when the transformer is switched off and on again.

Why the need for Transformer Monitoring Systems is growing

Today, most transformers are not being monitored remotely. For long periods of time – often years at a time – they are simply assumed to be in sufficient operational condition and only subjected to infrequent and quite expensive physical analysis. 

This approach has been made possible by the fact that most transformers have been operating quite far below their maximum capacity. The bigger the safety margin – the smaller the risk of not monitoring their condition continuously.

But now the global energy transition is changing things. All over the world fossil fuels are being replaced by electricity, and this is happening faster than we can expand the capacity of our ageing power grids. To keep up we must push our transformers closer to their physical limits increasing the risk of failure.

This creates a stronger demand for Transformer Monitoring Systems because they provide deep insight, significantly better asset control and thereby lowering the risk of failure – even under heavier loads due to the energy transition.

Until now, most conventional Transformer Monitoring Systems have not been online and don’t report their data in real time. Their performance is not been very refined, they typically require time consuming shutdowns to be installed and analysis of their data require the assistance of external technical experts. They are not day-to-day monitoring systems.

Oktogrid: Best Online Transformer Monitoring System

At Oktogrid we have taken a radically simple approach to transformer monitoring. All necessary sensors are built into one compact Data CollectorTM, which attaches itself magnetically to any transformer. 

It also comes with its own power supply and modem for wireless data transfer – no need for special tooling or transformer shut down. Installation literally takes less than 10 minutes. This means that real-time online monitoring of a vast number of transformers can be deployed in a matter of days. 

As soon as the Data Collectors are installed, they start passing their data on to our powerful Asset MonitorTM fully prepared for use applications such as: 

  • Grid Frequency
  • Harmonics
  • Load Profile
  •  Early Fault Detection
  •  Transformer Capacity (Dynamic Thermal Rating)
  •  Identification of Accelerated Ageing and loss of Life
  •  Overload Forecast 

All findings are presented in a user-friendly interface compatible with all types of transformers. 

As the Oktogrid Data CollectorTM monitors load cycles, vibrations, sounds, and temperature both inside and around the transformer, and the Asset MonitorTM transforms the data into action-oriented insights, the Oktogrid system takes Transformer Monitoring to a completely new level with a wide range of both technical advantages and business benefits.

Latest articles