NETA Corporate Alliance Partners (CAPs) are a group of industry-leading companies that have joined forces with NETA to work together toward a common aim: improving quality, safety, and electrical system reliability.
In this continuing NETA World series highlighting NETA’s CAPs, we focus on the thought leadership behind these successful companies. Here, we visit with Dinesh Chhajer, Megger’s Director – Technical Support, North America.
Megger has been a leader in electrical testing and measurement globally for 130 years. The company’s products cover seven core application segments: cable test and diagnostics, protection relays and systems, circuit breakers, transformer test and diagnostics, low voltage installations, general electrical testing, and motor and generator testing.
NW: What are the biggest challenges facing your company right now?
Chhajer: Megger has been growing at a very rapid pace in North America over the last few years. Through acquisitions and introduction of new technologies and products, it has been making efforts to provide its clients with state-of-the-art testing and measuring technologies to assist them in making informed decisions about the health and condition of their electrical assets. With that comes the challenge of being able to support our clients with exceptional service.
Megger is always looking for talented and knowledgeable individuals with field experience who could add value to what Megger has to offer. Talent acquisition has been a challenge in the current electrical power industry, but through social media, industry events, and networking, Megger is always striving to bring individuals onboard who are passionate about serving our clients.
Post-COVID, supply chain and delivery issues are another challenge faced by a majority of the industries. Megger made a conscious effort to address this challenge by looking for multiple vendors and bringing some of the printed circuit board (PCB) design in house to improve lead times and implement a very stringent quality control process. This has resulted in maintaining pre-COVID lead times for majority of our front-line products. Megger continues to improve in this aspect to ensure our clients have the most reliable products when they are needed.
NW: What are the biggest challenges facing your customers?
Chhajer: The North American electrical grid and installed assets base is aging. With that comes the need to perform predictive and preventive testing and maintenance of electrical assets. However, the reality is that with the available work force facing the challenges of retirement and loss of expertise, utilities are not able to test and maintain all of their assets and have to focus upon the critical few based upon the location, critically, and industry/users it serves.
Realizing this limitation, Megger has actively focused on training new technicians by conducting seminars and hands-on sessions to prepare them for field testing and maintenance.
Megger is also focusing on alternative methods to check the integrity of the grid and assets through newer techniques like online monitoring, automatic data interpretation, and more advanced testing methods including online and offline partial discharge, distribution line sensors for fault detection on remote lines, online gas monitoring, and others to ensure we do our bit to support our clients in maintaining their electrical assets.
NW: Which industry trends or new technologies are changing the way you work?
Chhajer: When it comes to the power industry, the fundamental tests typically performed on any given electrical asset have not changed very much. However, the extension of these fundamental tests and the way data is being collected, reviewed, and analyzed has drastically changed in the last 10–15 years. From line-frequency insulation power factor to narrow-band dielectric frequency response, from static winding resistance to dynamic winding resistance, from offline oil samples for DGA to online DGA monitoring, the way data is collected, interpreted, and assessed has transformed. It also means the software support infrastructure that enables automation and data trending is now more relevant than ever. We are in the world of artificial intelligence (AI) and predictive analysis where future asset condition assessment will certainly help in extending it’s useful life.
NW: Is this a good time to be in the electrical power testing business — why or why not?
Chhajer: There has never been a better time to be part of the electrical power industry. With focus on clean power through renewables and sustainable energy resources, we are on the cusp of major transformation that we will witness in the next 8–10 years. Demand for power is ever increasing, augmented by electric vehicles and the push by government for renewable energy and net zero emission. We also see an increase in newer methods and techniques being developed by electrical professionals to make the grid more reliable and efficient.
NW: If you could change one thing about how your business operates, what would it be?
Chhajer: Megger is known for its DC insulation resistance test that has been in existence for more than 100 years. If you look at our history, the Megger brand name is an amalgamation of multiple companies that were acquired or merged with Megger over the last 50 years or so. Different companies from various parts of the world have come together, bringing cultures, practices, and visions for the future. Megger now offers more than 300 products, and not just DC insulation testers.
We celebrate that the Megger name is synonymous with DC insulation resistance, but if I were to change something, I would bring the focus to the rich culture and values that the Megger brand stands for. We want to highlight Megger’s exceptional client service and our vast variety of products that allow any segment (generation, transmission, distribution, or residential) to be tested with a high degree of reliability, accuracy, and safety.
NW: What advice do you have for young people entering the field? What do you wish someone had told you when you got started in electrical testing?
Chhajer: There will always be a demand for power in every scenario, and this demand will only increase in the future. Still, the ratio of power engineers to computer science graduates or students with business focus is relatively low. I was fortunate to receive guidance from my mentors at the University of Texas at Arlington that allowed me to pursue my master’s degree in electrical engineering with a power system focus.
My advice for any young engineering joining the industry is to have a strong focus on the fundamentals and basic principles of power. This would allow them to technically analyze any problem using sound reasoning. Real-world experience is equally important. Being able to work safely in a field environment and keeping others safe is of utmost importance. Power system knowledge combined with field experience will put them on a path to success and ensure that the electrical grid will be in safe hands for the future.
NW: How important is mentoring in the electrical testing field and why? What has been your personal experience with mentoring?
Chhajer: Mentoring and guidance is extremely important. In the electrical testing field, a lot of knowledge gets passed on through observation and experience. Being able to follow in the footsteps of a person who has been there and done that adds tremendous value to one’s learning curve. It allows them to be prepared for the unexpected and unusual field conditions that otherwise would not be observed and experienced through classroom or academic learning.
I joined Megger as an Applications Engineer in 2006 and was fortunate to be a part of the Technical Support Group, a team that included engineers from diverse backgrounds (academic, field, manufacturing, research, etc.) who allowed me to learn from their best practices. In addition, my mentor/supervisor at that time helped me develop skills beyond technical and field testing where being able to empathize with the customer and put their request at forefront was the primary focus. It helped me become a well-rounded engineer with focus on technical knowledge, field skills and exceptional customer service.
NW: What are your personal strategies to keep growing and learning as a professional?
Chhajer: Learning is a never ending endeavor. With time, responsibility, and position at a company, the learning gears get changed but the path of learning remains the same. As a Professional Engineer, my goal is to keep learning through continuing education and from industry experts at events like NETA’s PowerTest, IEEE T&D, and others. In a management role, we have the opportunity to learn from our interactions and experiences, allowing us to develop a broader perspective and a holistic approach to problem resolution.