Insights & Observations — NETA CAP Spotlight Utility Relay Company: Leading-Edge Solutions to Real Problems

NETA World Staff CAP Corner, Summer 2021 CAP Corner

Brian Bianchi

NETA’s 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.

Our continuing CAP Spotlight series highlights some of their individual successes. In this issue, NETA World interviews Brian Bianchi, Director of Sales and Marketing at Utility Relay Company.

NW: What is something NETA World readers don’t know about Utility Relay Company?

Bianchi: Utility Relay Company (URC) is known for providing industry-leading trip unit retrofit kits for thousands of different low-voltage circuit breakers. Our AC-PRO® brand name has become synonymous with circuit breaker retrofitting.

Interestingly, however, we didn’t start with AC protection — we began with DC trip units. Our founder, Helmut Weiher, thought there was a true need in the market for a high-quality, well-priced digital trip unit. Our first product was the ZERO-Hertz® DC unit, and it wasn’t until a year later that we launched AC-PRO®. We still provide updated versions of ZERO-Hertz® today, and we are seeing more and more interest in DC protection with the growth of green energy, battery storage, and data centers.

NW: What recent company achievement or milestone are you particularly proud of?

Bianchi: 2020 was our 25th anniversary as a company. Keeping a business running well over time is not easy, and we are very proud of this milestone. A good number of our customers today have been with us since the very beginning, and we are grateful for their ongoing loyalty.  It’s always fascinating to hear their stories, as many of them were startups as well, and it’s rewarding to know we have been a part of their success over the years.

Part of our company philosophy has always been to do as much in-house as possible to maintain control of our products and solutions. Engineering, product development, production and assembly, technical support, and customer service all take place in our Chagrin Falls, Ohio, facility. As our business has grown, we have expanded and relocated several times, and we own the two adjacent parcels to our current facility so we can continue to grow over the next 25 years and beyond.

NW: What makes Utility Relay Company stand out?

Bianchi: First and foremost, a company must provide top-notch products and solutions that solve real problems. URC has done just that with products such as ZERO-Hertz®, AC-PRO®, AC-PRO-II®, QUICK-TRIP®, and Sluggish Breaker®.  But just as important, a successful company must provide exceptional service and support. From day one, we understood that it is the service we provide that will make URC stand out from the crowd. We offer 24/7 sales and technical support; we provide useful self-service tools such as our Kit Ordering Guide (kog.utilityrelay.com) and our online Settings Conversion Calculator; and we have the shortest lead times in the industry.

NW: What challenges do you see going forward for the industry?

Bianchi: People’s dependence on electricity continues to grow at breakneck speeds. So much of our daily lives and nearly every aspect of business requires electricity; therefore, it is critical for electricity to be both reliable and safe. The challenge for our electrical testing and remanufacturing industry will be to provide the latest electrical protection and system monitoring capabilities to enable our end-user clients to improve safety and increase productivity.

While having effective circuit breaker current and voltage protection is necessary, it is not sufficient to address this challenge. What is needed is to have real-time visibility into what is happening with switchgear lineups and to follow regular preventative maintenance schedules.   

Utility Relay Company provides companies with leading-edge solutions for protection, monitoring, and preventative maintenance. Our AC-PRO-II® trip units are fitted with communications and Sluggish Breaker® as standard and can remotely engage/disengage arc flash reduction settings as well as remotely open/close electrically operated breakers.

Additionally, our trip units can be programmed with scheduled maintenance intervals to indicate that preventative maintenance is due, similar to how automobiles have pop-up service notifications. Our Smart 1-Line® turnkey monitoring solution provides remote network visibility of lineups where current, voltage, power, breaker status, waveforms, and more can be viewed in real time.

While electrical safety and reliability is a growing challenge, it provides significant opportunity for our industry, and I am confident we will rise to the occasion.