AI helps transformers in optimisation

Tyson Stuelpe, vice president of global sales and marketing at SpotSee, an IoT solutions provider, speaks to Pipeline Magazine about new technology in transformers, market demand and supply challenges

Tyson Stuelpe, vice president of global sales and marketing at SpotSee, an IoT solutions provider, speaks to Pipeline Magazine about new technology in transformers, market demand and supply challenges


In which direction is technology advancement heading in transformers? Is there a push on efficiency and productivity?

Enhanced efficiency is a key focus of transformer manufacturers. Transformers are located in inhospitable environments where high temperatures, corrosive salt air and chemical fumes affect reliability. To combat this, designers are using superior grade steel to reduce no-load losses. Hybrid insulation using aramid and cellulose papers is being introduced to withstand transformer short-circuits. Therefore, modern transformers are 30 per cent more efficient at 35 per cent load than older counterparts. Artificial intelligence tools are being deployed to develop models for optimisation, providing real-world insights into the details of transformers current and historic performance. Internet of Things sensors are placed inside transformers to provide data that helps engineers avert downtime by scheduling predictive or corrective maintenance. For example, monitoring the condition of transformers while in transit reveals exposure to impacts or vibrations damaging to internal parts. Knowing the potential damage before the installation saves weeks of downtime helping projects stay on schedule.


What is your demand outlook for power generation related equipment such as transformers in the Middle East?

The demand for power generation equipment in the Middle East is growing steadily as populations and energy usage increase, distributed power generation augments centralised models and the mix of fuels expands to include renewable resources and natural gas. The Middle East is expected to need an additional 277 gigawatts of energy generating capacity by 2035, for a total installed capacity of 483 GW. To address the growing need, Saudi Arabia, plans to invest approximately US$9 billion annually to upgrade its infrastructure. As it privatises the industry, it expects to increase environmental stewardship as well as energy efficiency. Liquefied natural gas (LNG) is the predominant energy source, but additional fuels are being added to the basket. With these new fuels, distributed power generation becomes feasible, allowing smaller facilities to build and power sections of a city or regions of a country. More, energy generation sites enhance efficiency by reducing energy loss during transmission. Consequently, more transformers will be purchased and installed in the Middle East.


Is there a niche demand in this area you see for the Middle East market? How significant is this region to your business?

Investment in power generation equipment in the Middle East is expected to grow in coming years meaning it will play an important role for original equipment manufacturers supporting the region with power equipment from manufacturing locations inside the region, and by extension, companies like SpotSee that support OEMs. Increased reliance upon analytics makes condition monitoring increasingly valuable for transformer manufacturers and operators. The ability to access real-time data helps user’s spot immediate problems and predict others. Access to historic data, made possible through SpotSee’s data loggers, enables it to correlate to a wide variety of factors, including season, holidays, choice of route, shipping lane and choice of carrier. Reviewing historic data regarding damage helps users uncover patterns that reduce future damage, thus minimising malfunctions once transformers are installed.


What challenges do you see in supplying to this market and growing business here?

The Middle East represents a thriving market for SpotSee as the supply chain is optimised throughout that region. Recent changes in trade policy already are having a positive effect on the global power generation market, and SpotSee expects those improvements will continue. As with any region, the potential for isolationist trade policies remains a threat but, for now, we see opportunity.


What auxiliary products is SpotSee seeing opportunity for and developing or has recently launched?

SpotSee’s SpotBot Cellular provides real-time impact and location monitoring of medium sized transformers. This stand-alone sensor measures impacts up to 65G along three axes. Data is transmitted to the cloud using cellular signals, so line-of-sight satellite connections aren’t needed. Information can be accessed by any web-based device. SpotSee’s ShockLog impact recorders also record tri-axis impacts. This family of products feature humidity, pressure, temperature and impact monitoring, uploading data via radio frequency. The ShockTrak uses GPS to track large power transformer shipments, and reports impact data in real time using satellite communications when the cargo travels through remote areas. SpotSee’s products report on conditions separately from the power grid’s supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) system, making this monitoring particularly valuable.

Source: Pipeline ME