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 our CAP Spotlight series, we look at what makes CAPs special and highlight some of their individual successes. In this issue, NETA World interviews Francis Fisher, head of global marketing for Weidmann Electrical Technology.
NW: Who is Weidmann?
Fisher: The Weidmann Group, founded in 1877, is headquartered in Rapperswil, Switzerland, on the shores of Lake Zurich. Recognized throughout the world as a leading supplier of products and services to the transformer industry, Weidmann employs more than 3,000 people in over 30 locations worldwide. Weidmann Electrical Technology, one of the Group’s key business areas, may have started out producing cardboard products, but over 80 years ago, they also invented a product named Transformerboard. Now a well-known name throughout the electrical industry, this product had a significant impact on the global transformer insulation market. Today, more than 90 per cent of the world’s delivered power is insulated at some point along its journey by a Weidmann product.
As part of Weidmann’s growth and expansion strategy, today, the North American market is served by two production facilities, a state-of-the-art, high-voltage R&D test center, and nine regional testing laboratories to support transformer operators across each region. Initially a provider of insulation products, Weidmann’s current product portfolio offers a complete range of products and services that allow us to support the full transformer lifecycle. From initial design through to providing transformer operators with services and testing over the course of the life of the asset, Weidmann is a trusted partner of transformer manufacturers and operators worldwide.
NW: Tell us something we don’t know about Weidmann?
Fisher: Weidmann Electrical Technology may be well-regarded around the world as a leading supplier of electrical products and services, but the Weidmann Group also has a medical division. Weidmann Medical Technology is a leading producer of innovative, technically advanced, injection-molded components supplied to pharmaceutical companies around the world.
Weidmann Medical recently made the headlines as a key supplier of blood sampling cassettes used in the most accurate COVID-19 test available in the world today. Driven by the global pandemic, the Weidmann Group invested in increased production capacity that allowed us to produce enough cassettes for more than 2.4 million patients to be tested for COVID-19 each week.
NW: How is Weidmann addressing future industry challenges?
Fisher: Fundamental to the future of our industry is the reliability and security of energy networks. Understanding the reasons why power transformers and other energy infrastructure assets fail is critical in the development of industry standards, products, and practices that can limit risk and improve the overall reliability of energy networks. Capturing critical asset data enables all stakeholders to determine areas for improvement and predict future behavior when managing electric power system assets.
Our deep-rooted knowledge of the transformer industry led Weidmann Electrical to develop a range of on-line monitoring devices that enables transformer operators to manage critical assets more effectively. Our experience researching and developing transformer insulation, a key component when determining the life of a transformer, along with knowledge from many years operating diagnostic testing laboratories, has put us in a strong position in the on-line monitoring market to face future industry challenges.
NW: Why is monitoring important, and specifically, why on-line monitoring?
Fisher: Deterioration in the condition of insulation over time can lead to the failure of a transformer. The objective of a monitor is to detect a change in the transformer and avoid this risk of failure. Historically, manual processes and testing procedures have been used to detect transformer issues and supplement scheduled maintenance. But these manual processes only provide a snapshot of the transformer’s condition at a moment in time and cannot be fully relied upon to predict impending issues or failures.
On-line monitoring con-tinually checks the status of the transformer, providing actionable data that can be used to schedule essential maintenance or ultimately, in the event of a pending catastrophic failure, shut down the asset.
By using the failure data Weidmann has available, transformer operators and manufacturers can determine which on-line monitoring solution can provide the highest return on investment based on budget and infrastructure in place.
NW: Will on-line monitoring solutions disrupt your existing diagnostic lab business?
Fisher: For Weidmann, having operated off-line diagnostic testing labs for many years, developing on-line monitors was a natural progression. We believe providing customers with both off-line and on-line services is complementary. On-line monitors typically provide data about the current state of the transformer or asset, identifying any change in its condition and alerting the operator to this.
However, the level of detail and advanced diagnostics that can be performed on a transformer off-line can provide important additional visibility to determine the true condition and status of the transformer prior to taking action.
As one of the only companies in the world that can offer such a wide range of services, we believe this brings great value to our customers and keeps them coming back!