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Condition Monitoring of Metal-Clad and Gas

Insulated Switchgear

Karl Haubner
Doble Engineering

Abstract— Metal Clad Switchgear is one of the key assets of the A condition-monitoring program to assess the condition of the
electrical distribution system. An in-service failure has significant switchboard is required to:
consequences on the reliability of supply and is associated with a
substantial risk of personal injury. This contribution describes 1. Assess the risk of failure.
some common and not so common on and off-lime condition 2. Identify deteriorated components and initiate maintenance
monitoring techniques to assess the insulation condition of Medium or refurbishment (if possible). There is no point replacing
Voltage switchboards. Several case studies show the effectiveness of
oil circuit breakers with modern vacuum breakers if the
the various techniques. In the second part, the most common
condition monitoring techniques for Gas Insulated Switchgear are condition of the busbar or CT chamber insulation has
covered. deteriorated to an unacceptable degree.
3. Identify the priority for replacement or refurbishment to
ensure that limited resources are distributed effectively.

An effective program also needs to take the type of insulation

and arc interruption method employed into account. The test
method best suited to detect insulation defect in a minimum or
Industry and most utilities are experiencing increased bulk oil circuit breaker will not be the same as for SF6
pressure to maximize the economic return on investments and insulated GIS.
are forced to operate aging switchgear. Apart from human error, problems with the mechanism (which
will not be covered in detail in this paper) and operating
In the case of a failure large amounts of energy are released. outside of the rated capability, the main electrical insulation
Faults on the board can cascade to other compartments causing failure modes of metal clad switchgear are:
collateral damage within the switchgear and consequent loss of
adjacent circuits and in the worst-case scenario loss of the
• Failure of the insulation system due to elevated
whole board. This is particularly true for switchboards with oil
filled circuit breakers, resin bonded paper insulated bushings temperatures leading to thermal runaway conditions.
and compound insulated busbars. • Surface tracking mainly associated with moisture,
dust and contamination on insulating surfaces. For air
Modern switchboards are designed to eliminate the potential to insulated equipment this is the most common failure
cause injuries by containing the arc by-products but older mode. In many cases tracking is triggered by other
boards still in service are not designed to be arc resistant and discharge phenomena such a corona or sparking type
any failure there is associated with a high risk of personal PD activity that as a by-product generates corrosive
injury. gases that deteriorate the insulation surfaces.
The age of the switchboard population in industry and utility is • Partial Discharge activity in components such as
increasing which means that an effective condition monitoring epoxy insulators, VT’s CT’s, bushings etc.
program is gaining importance. At the same time experience • Partial discharge activity from unscreened cables in
indicates that whilst newer arc resistant switchboards are much switchgear or insufficient clearances such as voltage
safer, the margin to withstand electrical stresses are reduced transformers to frame
and many quality control issues have been detected early using • Failure of cable terminations not part of but connected
effective commissioning testing
to the switchgear
Age by itself is not a good indicator of estimated remaining life
and performance. Insulation does deteriorate due to electrical, A range of techniques and tools are available to assess the
thermal and mechanical stress, chemical attacks and condition of switchboards. The first distinction must be made
environmental contamination. between on and off-line testing.
TESTS TO DETERMINE THE CONDITION OF THE INSULATION phases connected to earth with all breakers closed and in the
racked in position. Voltage application is typically for 60
Off-line testing is usually employed during the commissioning seconds. The same procedure is then repeated for each phase.
of new switchgear or during major outages. Once in service, the In addition, the IR value across the open contacts of the Circuit
asset owner is somewhat reluctant to give access to equipment so Breaker is determined.
the initial tests are important to provide background data and to
verify the design, material and workmanship during the assembly IR values vary widely depending on the insulation system
of the board on site. In addition, the switchboard can then be employed. Oil filled circuit breakers or compound insulated
visually examined which is just as important as electrical testing. busbars can be as low as 5000 MΩ without being defective but
GIS and air insulated switchboards are expected to return IR
values in the high GΩ range if the humidity is low.
Commission and Maintenance off-line testing of Switchgear
One of the major disadvantages of the Insulation Resistance
test is that defects in condenser type multi-layer insulation
(which is common in older style paper insulated bushings used
Insulation Resistance Measurement on oil circuit breaker trucks from 6.6 to 33kV and even some
older 33kV busbars) cannot be detected using DC methods.
The Insulation
Resistance (IR)
measurement is the
oldest, most commonly
used and at first glance
simplest test. The
Insulation Resistance
tester generates a dc
voltage typically
between 0.5 to 10kV.
The small current
Figure 2: Failure of paper insulated condenser type circuit breaker bushing.
Figure 1 Commonly used IR tester flowing through and over
Failure occurred when racking a spare breaker into the board. The breaker
the insulation under tests is measured and the insulation “passed” a simple IR test.
resistance is directly indicated on the display. Temperature has
a pronounced effect on the insulation resistance of insulation High Voltage Power Frequency Withstand Test
material. The value decreases rapidly with an increase in
temperature. When individual values are to be compared with As part of the commissioning process it is common to conduct
each other it is important that both measurements are taken a Power Frequency withstand test (PFWT) in accordance with
under similar conditions or readings are normalised to 20 C. the relevant standards. This test, also called High-Potential test,
Temperature correction factors for different switchgear types is made at voltages above the normal system voltage for a short
and makes are generally not available and generic correction duration, such as 1 minute.
tables are not applicable across all different insulation system. Table1
Here the application of the polarisation index (10 min reading/1
min reading) or the polarisation factor (60 sec reading/15 sec Rated voltage kV 3.6 7.2 12 17.5 24 36
reading) test which is largely independent of temperature can
improve the meaning of the measurement. However, many
switchgear components do not return significant polarisation Rated power kV 10 20 28 38 50 70
currents and the obtained PI results are meaningless. withstand
Insulation Resistance results are also time dependent and when voltage
comparing spot measurements it is important that the
measurement times are the same. Test voltages in the field are typically reduced to 80% of the
listed values:
The significant contributing factor to Insulation Resistance
results is humidity. The higher the moisture content in the air The Switchgear has passed the PFWT test if the test voltage
the lower the IR values, in particular if surface contamination can be maintained for 1 minute without puncture, flashover or
across any component of the insulation system is present. No disruptive discharge.
repeatable results can be obtained if the humidity exceed 70-
80%. Temperature & humidity should be part of the test record. Observe and record:
▪ Noticeable rise or decrease in test transformer primary
The test voltage (e.g. 5kV for 11 & 22kV Boards and 10kV for & secondary currents
33kV boards) is applied between one phase and the other
▪ Large fluctuations of the applied voltage Impregnated paper insulation as found in older Metal-clad
▪ Audible discharges switchgear is prone to absorb moisture and the Dielectric
▪ Visible discharges Dissipation Factor is a significant indicator of moisture ingress.
▪ Tripping of HV test set circuit breaker Many cases have been encountered where circuit breaker
bushings returned acceptable Insulation Resistance readings
In essence, the PFWT is a “go-no-go” test and whilst it is but the DDF measurement revealed poor insulation values.
essential that a newly assembled switchboard passes this test,
little information about the quality of the insulation system is The following sketch -figure 4- indicates how the DDF
obtained. There are many examples of switchgear having measurement can detect partial degradation within a multi-
successfully passed a HV withstand test having serious layer insulation system.
assembly issues.

Figure 4 Detection of defects in multi-layer insulation.

Older type oil filled circuit breakers have a number of graded electrostatic
Figure 3 Example of a switchboard having passed the HV withstand test screens through the insulation structure of the bushing. A DC test performed on
successfully but subsequent PD testing identified an incorrect assembly of VT the same insulation structure is not capable to detect a defect that is still
connections resulting in insufficient clearance between phases. surrounded by good insulation.

A High Voltage Withstand test can also indicate a loss of

The DDF can be measured using a differential transformer
vacuum in VCB’s. A healthy vacuum interrupter must
ratio arm bridge, a schering bridge or instrumentation which
withstand the applied test voltage above across the open
measures total current and watt loss using a reference resistor.

Dielectric Dissipation Factor (DDF) also called Dielectric Loss

Angle (DLA) tan or Power Factor Measurement

DDF is the ratio between the resistive power loss and the
reactive power loss of the insulation material. This is equal to
the tan of the angle  and typical displayed as % Dissipation or
Power Factor.

Figure 5 Modern insulation analyser used to conduct DDF tests

As is the case for insulation resistance measurements, DDF

values need to be corrected for temperature for bitumen and oil
filled switchgear. At the same time, the variation of the
dissipation factor with temperature can also be a significant
indicator of the insulation quality. The temperature dependence
of the insulation is more pronounced with poor insulation
quality and the possibility of insulation breakdown due to
“thermal runaway” is higher. Thermal runaway occurs in
The DDF measurement is one the standard methods to “unstable” insulation at high temperatures when the high
characterise the condition of insulating materials. The value dielectric losses heat the insulation further which increases the
can vary from 0.1% up to 15% depending on the insulation temperature further, losses increase again, etc., until complete
system used. The method is most effective for older type insulation failure occurs.
switchgear in particular when condenser foil type stress control
methods are employed. For modern oil epoxy or gas insulted metal clad Switchgear no
correction is required.
The voltage dependence of the insulation tested is the other discharge levels or as a condition monitoring tool to trend the
important criteria. Good insulation will show very little transition from acceptable to critical levels, is gaining
increase in DDF value up to 120 % of operating volts. importance.
As the capacitance of the insulation under test increases, the
In principal the type of discharge can be categorized as
ability of the DDF measurement to detect incipient localised
external and internal discharges.
faults is reduced. When testing, for example, the busbar
insulation a large number of spout bushings are measured at the
same time and the results indicate the average DDF. The true
DDF of e.g. a single bushing with high DDF will be masked by
the low DDF of the large number of good bushings. That’s why
on a circuit breaker each bushing is tested separately.
The DDF measurement is sensitive to moisture ingress and as
this is a typical defect found in older metal clad switchgear
components, the testing technique is considered a significant
indicator of deterioration and can detect defects in condenser
type stress grading insulation systems.
The ability to detect localised insulation defects is reduced with
increased capacitance of the test sample.
Figure 6 types of Discharge activity
The DDF tip-up (voltage dependence) can be another indicator
of insulation integrity. In most cases partial discharge activity has a detrimental
effect on the insulation material. The spectrum of damages
A pass/fail criteria needs to take the type of insulation system due to PD activity include heating, oxidation, chain
employed into account. Older switchgear can have DDF values scission of polymer molecules, stress cracking due to UV
above 10% and is considered poor but still serviceable whereas light, surface erosion, build-up of aggressive gases (e.g.
modern air, gas or epoxy insulation systems have values below Ozone) which in turn cause corrosion of metal surfaces,
0.1%. delamination, etc.
For modern air or gas insulated boards with Epoxy Cast Resin
insulated structures the absolute value of the DDF test is not as Detection Circuit
important as the DDF tip-up.
Although the following simplified a-b-c model depicting a
single void surrounded by insulation was rejected by
Partial Discharge Measurement (PD) researchers because a cavity cannot be represented by a
capacitance, it is often used to explain PD activity and how
Partial Discharge (PD) activity is produced by incipient faults to detect it. The capacitance of the void and the series and
in HV insulation and is regarded as one of the best indicator of parallel capacitances of the surrounding insulation is
insulation condition providing an early warning against shows as a, b, c
insulation faults. By definition PD represent discharge events
that are limited to only a small portion of the dielectric and
only partially bridge the insulation between the electrodes. PD
usually occurs due to local electric stress concentration at
defects and hardly within a homogenous insulation structure
were the electric field is a function of the applied voltage and
the distance between the electrodes and is designed with some
margin above the breakdown strength of the material.
However in defective insulation systems there can be many
locations where the electric field is not uniform. For example a C : Capacitance of void
void inside an otherwise homogenous dielectric will cause a C : Capacitance of solid in series w/void
localized field enhancement across it and if the dielectric C : Capacitance of the rest of the solid
strength of the gas or air inside the void is below the V : Applied voltage of solid
breakdown voltage determined by Paschens law, a partial V : Voltage across void
discharge pulse is generated. Over time the fast moving V /V : Inception volt. for PD in void
+ -

electrons or ions can cause deterioration of the surrounding

Figure 7 simple a, b c model and current flow
void wall insulation resulting in chemical decompositions of
If a voltage is now applied across the test sample a proportional
the material. This can lead to a complete breakdown of the
voltage will now appear across the void
insulation. PD testing, either as a factory test to ensure that the
equipment is designed and build not to exceed permissible
time constant of 50 ns for the PD pulse & a 50 Ohm impedance
is assumed.
In many instances, the background interference from non-PD
sources is much higher than this.

Figure 8 Distribution across void surrounded by insulation.

When the breakdown strength of the gas or air inside the void
is exceeded the void capacitance is temporarily shorted so the
voltage across the void drops to 0 V and a charge transfer from
one side to the other side of the void occurs. Ca now needs to Figure 11 Standard PD measurement circuit.
“supply” the lost charge to Cb to compensate. This is
associated with some current pulses between Ca and Cb/Cc. Apart from replacing the coupling capacitor with for example a
HF-CT there are several options as far as the PD
instrumentation is concerned such as narrow band, wide band
and ultra-wide band detectors going up to hundreds of MHz
with the ability to resolve features of individual pulses. Each
Figure 9 Typical current transients associated with a Discharge from a single system has their own merits and disadvantages. The most
void common method employed nowadays is the wide band
technique described in IEC 60270. With modern digital
detectors the detection center frequencies and bandwidth are
freely adjustable permitting investigation of the pattern a
different frequencies and superior noise suppression. However,
it should be noted that the frequency range used is outside of
the IEC guidelines and results expressed in pC may not be
comparable with factory data or measurements taken at other
detection frequencies.
Input Unit DAQ DSP PC

vPD Filtering Detection

Figure 10 Current flow in coupling capacitor PD-Signal A Postprocessing
vU µP
If now a capacitor Ck with a series impedance is now Software
connected across the circuit, Ck will supply some charge to Voltage Signal D User/ Panel
Cb/a for Cc. This is detected as a current by the series
impedance in series with the coupling capacitor. (Figure 10)
This circuit is basically described in IEC60270 and represents Figure 12 Block Diagram of modern Digital DP detector
the standard test circuit showing the test object, the coupling
capacitor, the measurement impedance, the HV supply and the With these digital detectors, every PD event is captured and
instrumentation. recorded permitting advanced post recording waveform
The coupling capacitor provides the “compensating” charge analysis.
and functions as a High Pass Filter i.e. blocks power frequency The test voltage applied is increased to up to 120 to 130% of
but lets the HF PD signals through. These decoupled current line to ground voltage.
pulses are converted by the measuring impedance into
equivalent voltage pulses. The pulses are integrated to provide
a measure of charge involved in the PD event at the point the
sensor is connected too. As per IEC60270 the apparent partial
discharge level is expresses in pC (pico Coulomb) Those
pulses have very short time parameters in the ns range and are
low in magnitude. For example, for an apparent charge of 0.1
pC the corresponding voltage magnitude is about 100 μV, if a
with non-electrical and electrical means. Electrical
measurements usually involve comparing arrival times between
different sensors (they may be TEV sensors or Coupling
capacitors) using a high speed oscilloscope. Non electrical
methods uses several acoustic sensors.

Figure 16 Location of PD source using time of flight

Figure 13 PD Test Circuit for Switchboards

In addition to the magnitude and type of discharges the other

important parameters such as PD inception voltage, PD
extinction voltage and effect of time are recorded. All these
parameters need to be considered before a valid judgment can
be made. Displaying the PD data using the Phase Resolved
Partial Discharge (PRPD) patterns also called phi-q-n diagram
is recognized as the one of most effective methods to display
the characteristics of PD signals and is used to classify
different types of PD and interference signals. The method
produces patterns that can be directly related to gas discharge
events in the dielectric. The PD pattern reflects the sum of all
individual pulses correct in time (phase position) on the X axis,
magnitude on the Y axis and repetition rate which is color Figure 17 Non-electric location methods use microphones to detect the panels
coded collected during a preselected acquisition time. The user that return the loudest indication of PD activity.
can also select to display the pulse polarity. From this
information the generation of 2 or 3 dimensional graphs is If panels can be removed during off-line testing a corona
possible. camera can be helpful determining the origin of the PD

Figure 14 Phase resolved pattern from sharp point at HV potential producing


Figure 18 Defect visualised using a corona camera during off-line testing

Non-intrusive on-line tests

Figure 15 Sparking type discharge from floating bushing screen in
switchboard. An effective condition monitoring regime combines
regular non-intrusive survey type measurements with less
frequent off-line assessments.
Location of partial discharges Often the initial survey test results trigger more detailed
testings including monitoring over a longer period or
After a discharge has been detected, its location is beneficial. initiating some off-line testing.
If, for example, a single component can be identified for
replacement without sectionalizing the switchboard, significant
time & cost savings are possible. Location of PD is possible
surface, which can be measured by attaching a capacitive
probe to the metalwork.

This capacitive plate sensor probe is often integrated in

handheld detectors permitting quick scanning of the
Figure 19 Condition Monitoring using a combination of Survey, focused
monitoring and intrusive testing

Whenever there is a PD event different Energy forms are

released that can be detected using different techniques
and instruments.

Figure 22 – Commercial handheld TEV detector to survey cable box of


The TEV detectors have a frequency range of around 2 –

80MHz and measurements are unavoidably influenced by
other narrowband and background broadband noise signals
Figure 20 Energy Forms released by Partial Discharge Activity
in a substation environment that are in the same frequency
range. These external interference signals may originate
One of the most commonly used method is the detection of from air-conditioners, lights, radio and communication
electromagnetic waves. A PD current pulse comprises signal, power electronics such as variable speed drives or
moving charges which results in an emission of impulsive other HV plant such as overhead lines and substation
electromagnetic waves that travels in the surrounding equipment in close proximity to the board and are often of
media. This radiation can be detected using specialised high magnitudes compared to the target signal leading to
spectrum analysers in the RFI range. false positives. It’s important to always compare to
background readings taken from panels that cannot be
associated with discharge activity such as LV boards
Partial Discharge Monitor using TEV Principles instead of just reacting on absolute dB values.
When a partial discharge inside the switchboard occurs, Surface PD activity which is the major failure mode in air
electromagnetic waves propagate away from the source insulated switchgear has less energy and emits
and are capacitively coupled to the inner surface of the electromagnetic waves outside of the detectors frequency
metalwork. range and can in general not
be detected using TEV
principles. Detection
sensitivity is naturally much
lower than off-line PD
testing and depend on the
propagation path so that a
direct correlation to IEC
type measurements in pC
are not possible.
Figure 21 TEV – Transient Earth Voltage Method
Figure 23 Example of significant defect that was undetectable using
TEV techniques
These pulses travel due to the skin effect on the surface of
the metal and are able to propagate through an opening in
the metal cladding (such as a gasket) onto the outside
surface of the switchboard. The travelling steep current
pulse can generate a transient earth voltage on the metal
Despite these shortcomings the “non-expert” ease, speed
of use and the ability to detect many types of high level
PD activity non-intrusively makes the TEV method a
popular choice.
TEV Sensors can also be used with more sophisticated
instrumentation such as oscilloscopes, recorders or
spectrum analysers.
Using an optimised spectrum analyser as shown in
figure24 it is possible to display the captured signal in both
the frequency domain and in a time resolved mode.

Figure 26 Example of automatic software based classification from on

individual PD pulse implemented in a commercial detector

To further investigate the influence of humidity and load

conditions on Partial Discharge activity several
manufacturers offer permanent monitoring solutions
combining sometimes TEV and acoustic sensors.

Figure 24 PD Instrumentation & TEV sensor on switchgear

Figure 27- Example of permanent monitoring system installed

Another method is on-line monitoring via permanent

RFI Frequency Spectrum Display of the TEV/RFI installed PD coupling capacitors. This technique is not
from above signal in the time popular in Australia as retrofitting is intrusive and can
instrumentation. (Black domain at a spot compromise the BIL rating of the switchboard. As modern
is Background), the PD frequency (6MHz BW) flash hazard rated boards are relatively sealed often having
causes an uplift selected from above a double skin resulting in reduced or no effectiveness of
compared to the spectrum. The trace TEV and Acoustic methods this policy may need to be re-
background across a shows clear phase evaluated.
wide frequency range correlation an indication
of “true” PD activity but In theory possible but often subject to significant system
also two types of PD. interference is the monitoring via the existing build-in
Figure 25 RFI spectrum between 50 & 1000MHz and time resolved trace capacitive voltage indicators. Here advanced PD signal
with phase synchronization @ 620 MHz processing techniques and synchronized 3 phase PD
measurements are helpful.
Some instruments have additional post processing features
that characterize the type of PD activity. Algorithms
automate the PD characterization process by analysis in
the time domain extracting the features of each PD event
such as Pulse rise and decay times, pulse width and other
essential frequency components. These features are
determined by the type of discharge.
Figure 28- Example of PD detection via Voltage indicators
by excessive vibration in heavy current applications) and
Ultrasonic Detection any acoustic emissions should be monitored and
investigated regardless of the dB µV level.
Airborne type Ultrasonic Detectors. Insulation breakdown in the solid section of the
switchboard (e.g. insulated busbar, internal discharge in
Surface discharge activity, corona, and tracking are best
instrument transformers or bushing insulation) cannot be
detected with high sensitivity using an ultrasonic listening
detected using ultrasound.
device. Ultrasound easily passes through air but is readily
blocked by a solid surface. The detector is a directional
microphone with amplification in the sonic and ultrasonic Contact Type Ultrasonic Detectors.
range. Typical detection frequencies are 30-500 kHz. The
On well-sealed boards a contact type probe can be used.
key to a successful ultrasonic survey with a high
These have excellent sensitivity detecting PD on Gas
confidence level is to find opening in the switchboard were
Insulated Switchboards. On Air Insulated Switchboards
sound can “escape”.
contact type sensors have reduced sensitivity when
There must be an uninterrupted air path between the compared to airborne Acoustic Emissions type and should
discharge site and the instrument to allow the airborne only be used if there are openings.
ultrasound waves to be detected. Some of the older
switchboard have ventilation vents or other small gaps
between panels or covers suitable for surveying.

Figure 31- Contact Type Ultrasonic sensors in use

Some instruments further visualise the acoustic activity by

Figure 29- Examples of suitable opening to conduct ultrasonic survey displaying the pattern as a phase resolved trace in the time
resolved mode which permits further classification and
Where possible a small gap can be created at switchgear recognition of the type of PD. Synchronisation to the
panels permitting effective access to the airspace to power cycle can be either via an internal time clock or
permitting more sensitive acoustic measurements. Another truly phase locked via a mains outlet.
approach where access to the airspace for the ultrasonic
inspection is limited is by installing acoustic windows as

Figure 32- Phase resolved Acoustic Signature

Figure 30- Examples of acoustic windows retro fitted to Metal Clad Other on-line Tests
Instruments provide indications of the acoustic magnitude External thermo-graphic testing although sometimes used
in dB or dBµV but in practice this level can alter to detect OCB faults, is of limited use in metal clad
significantly just by changing the angle of the sensor by a switchgear. The problem needs to be in a very advanced
small degree and classification purely on dB results are not stage to raise temperatures of the steel covers. Some asset
conclusive. The operator can differentiate from the sound owners install Infra-Red inspection windows (which can
what type of PD activity such as corona, contact or also be combined with acoustic windows) increasing the
tracking is active. In general acoustic measurements are effectiveness of infra-red surveys on switchboards
not effected by electrical interference (but can be masked considerably.
Verification of on-line techniques compared to off-line tests • Internal PD such as voids inside instrument
transformers and insulators cannot be detected
using ultrasonics so a combination of both
Appendix 1 shows results from tests conducted in the TEV/RFI and ultrasonics is essential to cover all
laboratory and provides a comparison in terms of defects.
sensitivity of the most common on-line techniques in use
with reference to off-line PD measurements. • Switchboards where no interference is present
From the results obtained from this controlled study and can be easily surveyed using simple hand held
based on the field experience of the author the following detectors combining peak TEV signal indications
conclusions can be made: or LED and ultrasonic tool. In case interference is
present more sophisticated instrumentation
reduces the number of false positives.
• The Laboratory tests indicate that by far the most
sensitive method and the only way the PD • Considering that the main failure mode in air
activity can be accurately characterised, the insulated epoxy resin based switchboards is
degree of severity quantified and compared to surfaces deterioration and subsequent tracking
standards is an off-line PD measurement in much more emphasis should be placed on
accordance with IEC60270. effective acoustic measurements. This can be
achieved by installing acoustic windows.
• However surface PD activity can be detected with
very good sensitivity using Acoustic techniques. • The corona camera is not useful for survey type
Here the airborne type acoustic sensors achieve a assessments with Panel covers fitted but is a good
much better sensitivity than the contact type investigative pinpointing tool during off-line
sensors. The dedicated ultrasonic detector used in testing with covers removed.
the trial with the inbuilt variable frequency filter
returned the best performance in terms of clarity Test Criteria
and using the filter being able to focus on
different types of activity and noise suppression. It is impossible to establish a universal heath index or
acceptance criteria that covers the whole range of
• The same surface PD activity can in general not switchboards and insulation system employed.
be detected using methods that rely on the
transmission of electric magnetic radiation (TEV) Very often guidelines are only applicable to a specific
unless PD activity is above 1000pC. type, manufacturer and voltage range.
Modern Metal Clad Switchgear utilising gas or air
• TEV/RFI methods can be strongly effected by insulation and epoxy resin structures have negligible losses
external interference sometimes totally and Dielectric Dissipation Factor Measurements (DDF)
preventing meaningful measurements. If the are not a significant indicator and not commonly applied
interference frequencies are narrow banded it can but are still listed in the table.
be beneficial to focus on frequencies outside of
the interference band using filtering and to check Some simple guide lines have been established using the
at spot frequencies if activity is phase related. In hand held detectors.
case of broad banded interference such as seen in
installations with variable speed drives, these
methods are not effective. Ultra-wide band
measurements can be even more subject to
interference with algorithms in most cases not
being able to differentiate between interference
and true PD activity. Additional add-on filters can
assist in these cases.

• Strong Void PD activity, Sparking type PD and

severe PD activity from cable terminations can be
detected using TEV techniques. Representing the Figure 33- Some Guide Lines Handheld TEV detectors
signals in the time domain (phase resolved) can
assist in separating interference from real PD.
Based on experience the following guide lines are Whilst so far the discussions have been limited to the
proposed: assessment of the insulation quality of Metal Clad
switchboards it should be noted that the circuit breaker and
Acceptance Criteria Modern Metal Clad Switchgear
its operating mechanism itself is basically a mechanical
Test Method Acceptance Criteria device. Life expectancy of HV circuit breakers is at least
Insulation > 20 000 MΩ 30 years but under normal operating conditions the breaker
Resistance (typical values found are > 100GΩ) will operate less than 10 minutes and under fault
Partial conditions it will operate less than 1 minute throughout its
Discharge < 50 pC @ 120% Uo but take into account type of
Off-line IEC PD from Phase Resolved Signature service life.
No AE signal unless identified as non-relevant such During the Time and Motion test various timing and
as vibrations motion measurements are be made. After the test is
No signals exceeding 20dB, Pulse count <20
Unless identified as background
complete the results are compared to the manufacturer’s
If DDF is used typical values are < 0.4% and there
DDF should be no increase in DDF with an increase in During the test we may identify problems in the:
voltage up to Uo.
Figure 34 Acceptance Criteria Modern Air/Vacuum/Gas insulated with Mechanism, Linkages & Shock Absorbers – the most
Epoxy Resin support common problems discovered are lubrication issues,
Example of Criteria for older 11kV bitumen insulated mechanical binding, or mechanical interference. These
boards with Oil Circuit Breakers established earlier by types of problems may be identified by abnormal timing,
travel, or velocity results.
Australian utilities.
Main & Resistor Arcing Contact Systems – these types of
Test Method If insulation indicators are worse than levels problems are most frequently identified by excessive
below classify into bad category
contact bounce on the contact timing plots.
> 200 MΩ Control Circuit – these types of problems can be found
Partial Discharge directly or indirectly during the motion and timing test.
< 100 pC @ 110% Uo but take into account type
Off-line IEC
of PD from Phase Resolved Signature Most frequently they are first identified indirectly, where
values the problem in the control circuit causes the CB to fail to
< 10% & no significant increase between 2 kV
and system voltage operate or to fall outside the manufacturer’s timing
No AE signal unless identified as non-relevant specifications. During the subsequent investigation
such as vibrations problems in the control circuit can also be identified
TEV No signals exceeding 35dB, Pulse count <50 per directly using the instrument’s Analog or Auxiliary
Unless identified as background
Figure 35- Acceptance Criteria older Oil/ Bitumen insulated boards with
Paper insulated Graded OCB bushings Whilst it is essential for Transmission type Circuit
Breakers to monitor travel & velocity by attaching motion
For results falling in the bad category, remedial action is transducer to the mechanism these test are usually not
recommended, access to the board is restricted and detailed conducted on distribution type breakers although timing
contingency plans in case of failure are prepared. measurements should be conducted at least during
If the test results fall between a fair and bad category the time commissioning and major maintenance activities.
period between re-tests is shortened or if possible some
permanent monitoring is utilised. For switchgear older than 20
years with results in the good and fair category, a combination
of off- and on-line re-tests typically every 4 years are
The value in most insulation diagnostic testing lies more in
the survey of a trend than in the measurement of absolute
values. No decision should be made based on the results of
a single test (unless very high readings are discovered).
For older bitumen compound insulated boards, DDF and
insulation resistance varies considerably with temperature
and humidity and only trending over a number of tests can
provide a realistic assessment if the insulation is stable or Figure 36- Typical set-up for simple timing test.
deteriorates further.
It is important to collect benchmark data early in life of the In addition, contact resistance tests using a 4 wire DC
switchboard so that effective trending is possible. method injecting typically at least 100A to 200A,
determination of the minimum voltage required to trip the
breaker and oil tests are common but exceed the scope of
this paper.

The data from these diagnostic condition-monitoring tests

presents the Asset Manager with a powerful tool that can
help in the decisions making process to accept, refurbish,
replace or retain the new and ageing switchboard.
Warranty issues or defects can be addressed early before
the switchboard is placed in service.

Figure 37- Condition Monitoring – Maintenance Scheme

Case Studies

Case Study 1 11kV Switchboard with defective bus

bar support

This case study presented shows how the described tests

helped to determine defects on bushings / barrier boards on Figure 40- Phase Resolved PD Signature
an 11kV busbar in modern air and epoxy insulated
Switchgear panels were then removed and the location of
switchgear. These tests were conducted after some noise
discharge activity was exactly pinpointed using ultrasonics
was heard with the new switchboard in service coupled
and a corona camera.
with a strong ozone smell.

Initial testing using TEV and RFI principles

did not return any indications of PD activity
with typical values equal to background
readings. The modern board is well sealed
but both contact and airborne acoustic
sensors placed at small gaps on the arc chute
confirmed PD activity.

Figure 38- Acoustic tests showing PD activity Figure 41- Pinpointing techniques using both acoustic and corona camera
with covers removed

The PD activity originated from the busbar support fibre

Whilst online PD methods relying on electromagnetic glass rings that were not sealed and had absorbed moisture
radiation failed to detect any PD an off-line test confirmed at some stage. There was also evidence of white power at
relative high levels of surface PD activity up to 2000pC on the rings and the heat shrink / rubber interface typical for
all phases. crystallisation associated with PD activity. The fibre glass
material itself showed discoloration.

Figure 42 showing defective support fibre glass board

Figure 39- Test Set-up

Case Study 2 Multiple PD Sources 22kV Switchboard

This case study portrays the findings on a 22kV

switchboard which was removed from service due to
audible discharge and a strong ozone smell emanating
from the switchboard. Testing was requested by the Asset
Manager in order to determine the levels of partial
discharge present before performing fault finding to
determine the source of the audible discharge.

Figure 46 Surface condition of spout

Testing was repeated with the end busbar panel removed

in order to utilise an ultrasonic detector to pinpoint exact
sources of discharge but unfortunately this was
unsuccessful due to limited access whilst maintaining safe
clearances, although during these attempts visual discharge
was observed. The lights were then turned off and visual
discharge was very clear and easily distinguishable to be
originated from between the spout and the surrounding
Figure 43 Switchboard tested frame. Closer inspection of these areas identified a build-
up of discharge powder which had bridged the gap
between the two as well as corrosion on the metal frame.

Figure 44 Phase Resolved PD Signature showing several types of PD

Figure 47 Tracking point between spout and frame of switchboard

The audible discharge was clearly identifiable to originate The discharge in this case was clearly occurring over an
from one end of the switchboard therefore after initial extended period of time which went undetected until
testing which confirmed that the discharge activity was discharge levels were severe enough to be audibly heard
originating from the bus section and not the circuits; during general substation inspections. This confirms the
inspections were focused in this region. Inspections requirement for regular monitoring of electrical apparatus
revealed extensive corrosion to copper components, severe both online and offline which helps to minimise repair
surface deterioration of resin components and signs of costs through early detection or in a worst case scenario
localised heating on heat shrink. This inspection confirmed save the apparatus from catastrophic failure.
the offline measurement which indicated that multiple PD
sources were present with different partial discharge Case Study 3 Loose mounting bolts on spout flange
This case study focuses on an older bitumen/pitch filled
switchboard (oil circuit breaker). During a scheduled
outage on a single CB, audible discharge was heard, upon
racking down the CB. Testing staff were called to the site
and through the use of an ultrasonic detector were able to
pinpoint the discharge to the Red phase Front Bus spout.
Based on the tester’s onsite assessment and
recommendations, the Asset Manager decided to de-
energise the Front Bus in order to perform offline testing
and subsequent fault finding.
Figure 45 Busbar connection at rear of spout with cover removed
Figure 51 Front Bus shutter in fouled position

Figure 48 Switchboard tested showing Bitumen bus bar insulation & oil The switchboard was successfully returned to service, with
circuit breakers follow up online testing and acoustic surveys confirming
that the discharge activity has not returned.

Case Study 4 Secondary wiring of CT touching

body of another CT

This case study details the findings as a result of a

switchboard which was de-energised after general
substation inspections identified audible discharge and the
smell of ozone within the switch room. Offline testing of
just the busbar was discharge free but severe audible
Figure 49 Phase Resolved PD pattern discharge was present with all CB closed (thus including
all circuits in the test). Simply closing one CB at a time
During initial inspections it was noticed that the shutter allowed the discharge activity to be attributed to a single
was fouling and not functioning correctly and therefore circuit on the switchboard.
had sustained damaged but at that stage this was not seen
as significant. During offline testing, severe audible
discharge could be heard when a voltage of only 1kV was
applied to the busbar. The rear mounting bolts of the Red
Front Bus spout were found to be loose which confirmed
the floating potential pattern obtained with offline testing.
After tightening the loose bolts, not only did the discharge
activity disappear but the shutter no longer fouled and
therefore operated smoothly.

Rear flange mounting bolts Figure 52 Phase Resolved PD signature

The circuit portion consisted of a spout, one stand-off

insulator, one neon pickup insulator and two sets of CT’s
in series (mounted one below the other.)

Initial inspection of the circuit portion of the switchboard

revealed extensive corrosion and surface deterioration of
components. Parts deemed as unserviceable were replaced
before performing follow-up offline testing which yielded
still very high levels of discharge. Components of the
circuit were segregated and tested individually (although
Figure 50 PD Signature Loose rear mounting bolts on spout flange still mounted in position) with no discharge present but
when the two CT’s were tested together the high level
discharge was present as well as able to be heard audibly.
Closer inspection between the two CT’s identified severe
surface deterioration of the CT body as well as damage to
secondary wiring.
DC Step PD
IR @ PD (pC)
voltage test Tan δ (pC)
5kV @
(Ileakage @ % @10kV @
G 15.3kV
30kV) A 12.7
L1 <0.2 0.8 <10 <10

Suspect Section L2 5 1.37 260 510 600

L3 <0.2 0.89 <10 <10
L1 <0.2 0.88 <10 <10
Figure 53 Surface deterioration found when Top CT was removed 0
Normal Section L2 <0.2 0.85 <10 <10
The CT’s were replaced and secondary wiring damage
repaired before retests were completed but large level L3 <0.2 0.91 <10 <10
discharge was still measured. Further investigation Routine off-line testing of a section of the switchgear
identified that the close proximity of the secondary wiring returned the following results:
of the Top CT to the body of the Bottom CT. The
discharge activity was successfully rectified by simply Figure 55 Test Results Off-line test
increasing the clearance of the secondary wiring from the
CT body. It appears that only the combined field strength
of both CT’s being energised together was enough to Panels of the board were removed and PD activity was
create the discharge that was measured. located (whilst the busbar was energised from the test
transformer) using a PD probe. It was interesting to
observe that no ultrasonic discharge activity could be
detected as the defect was internal to the busbar insulation.
A visual inspection of the L2 CT busbar also revealed
pitting and burn marks of the screen conductor. It was
concluded that the PD activity already caused further
deterioration of the insulation evident from the reduction
in insulation resistance and increase in DDF. The CT
busbar was removed and was retested in the Laboratory.
Similar high levels of partial discharge activity were
found. The area of highest PD intensity was located usimg
a differential RFI senor to be at the end of the internal
Figure 53 Secondary wiring in close proximity

Case Study 5 Defective CT busbar section

This case study presented shows how the described tests

helped to determine defects on a CT busbar in an air and
epoxy insulated 22kV switchgear.

Figure 56 Test of faulty Busbar section once removed from


Figure 54 Switchboard tested

Case Study 6 - Significant deterioration of a 30 year old 11
kV switchboard
The following test results indicate a significant
deterioration of the rear busbar.
Insulati PD
 DC Step on PD PD Inceptio
tan δ
Rear voltage test Resista
(Ileakage @
nce @
(pC) (pC) n&
V% @ 6.3 @ 7.6 Extincti
ar 20 kV) A 5kV
GΩ on
L1 6.8 4.42% 93.1 <20 <20 >7.6kV
L2 7.4 5.75% 45.2 <20 <20 >7.6kV
* 2.4 kV
also inc
L3 50
17.7 1500 1800+
2.5 kV
DDF ext
Figure 57 Test Results Off-line test

Key indicators of the deterioration are high DC leakage,

low IR (in comparison with other phases and other air-
insulated switchboards), high DDF and DDF tip-up, and
very high partial discharge activity. In particular partial
discharge results did indicate a critical deterioration. The
PD signature suggested an arcing in air type discharge.
With the side cover removed the discharge source was
Figure 59 Test Set-up & Phase resolved PD pattern
located (using ultrasonics) to originate from the bus
coupler panel. Visual examination revealed signs of severe By sectionalising circuits the activity was localised to one
discharge activity between the compound filled bus joint panel and a visual examination showed insufficient spring
and the panel as per photo. Although the white phase also contact between the busbar and the screen of the bushing
displayed signs of previous corona activity between the leaving it floating. After rearranging the spring acceptable
panel and the bus joint no partial discharge activity was discharge levels were obtained.
detected during the tests

Figure 60 Insufficient spring contact of screen to HV conductor

Case Study 8 - Commissioning Issues on 6.6kV AIS

Figure 58 Discharges between bus bar joint and panel During Commissioning of the new Switchboard the L3 (C)
Phase showed elevated PD levels. Although the PD levels
were relatively low the phase resolved PD pattern
Case Study 7 Commissioning Issues on AIS suggested an internal void discharge with good symmetry
22kV Switchboard between positive and negative half cycles.
Commission testing showed unacceptable high levels of
PD activity in the nC range. The cloud type pattern
suggests a sparking through air type PD activity.
A subsequent examination of components showed several
parts of the switchgear were not grounded. (Installation

Figure 64 Showing some of the components that were not connected to

Figure 61 Phase resolved PD pattern & off-line test results ground during the assembly.
Acoustic location was not possible but by switching off
sections of the switchboard and removing links and
components the PD was pinpointed to originate from a Part 2
faulty voltage indicator. Separate tests at component level
confirmed the defective part. CONDITION MONITORING OF GAS INSULATED

GIS can be defined as switchgear where the conductors

and contacts are insulated are by pressurised Sulphur
Hexafluoride gas (SF6). The SF6 gas is used both as
switching and insulation medium.
Figure 62 Defective Voltage Indicator Due to their compactness, immunity against environmental
conditions such as pollution, their very high reliability,
low maintenance and long service life they are now a
Case Study 9 - Commissioning issues on 33kV GIS popular choice for both distribution and transmission
Switchboard voltage levels.
During commissioning of a new 33kV GIS Switchboard There are now several GIS installations in Australia and
one Phase showed high PD levels only slight above system the monitoring of these installations in service is covered
voltage. The PD patterns suggested a sparking type in this second part on Switchgear monitoring.
discharge from floating components.

Figure 65 Outdoor GIS substation in Perth, Western Australia

Figure 63 Test Set-up & Phase resolved PD pattern

Gas insulated Switchgear is considered as overall very size of 1-2mm are harmful. Protrusions may originate
reliable however failures still occur. from production, transportation and from assembly.

This is a common problem and exists in almost every GIS
Particle with several mm length can reduce the AC
withstand level considerably.
If they settle on epoxy spacers and insulators surface
treeing my result leading to flashovers. Particles can be
introduced from contamination during manufacturing or
assembly on site or from metal abrasion due to vibrations
or from moving parts from e.g. switching operations
Floating Components
Figure 66 Source: Cigre TB 513 Final Report of the 2004 - 2007 Floating Electrical and mechanical loose shields or other
International Enquiry on Reliability of High Voltage Equipment Part 5
GIS 2012
metal parts not bonded to either HV or ground potential
can generate large discharges that degrades the SF6 gas.

Internal PD
Internal PD from Voids and defects in spacers and epoxy
components such as insulators are due to manufacturing
issues and factory routine tests should detect these before

P article on s pacer
Electrically floating
Protrusion shield

Figure 67 Source: Cigre TB 525 Risk Assessment on Defects in GIS

based on PD Diagnostics 2013 Void in
s pacer
Protrusion on Free particle

The GIS Equipment is often installed at strategically important earth potential

locations in the network and since the time to repair Gas

Insulated Switchgear can be considerable longer than with Figure 69 Type of failures
conventional switchgear any failure can have serious
consequences. Monitoring Methods
The majority of users conduct a High Voltage withstand
test combined with a Partial Discharge test during
Failure modes in GIS commission of GIS. The measurement sensitivity during
Despite stringent QA procedures during manufacturing these tests should be in the order of 5pC or better when
and assembly failures still occur. using a conventional IEC60270 complied PD
measurement system. This is hard to achieve using a
conventional test system with open air connections and it’s
preferable to use a “bolt on” totally enclosed transformer
to maintain a screened measurement circuit.

Figure 68 Failures in GIS

Typical defects in GIS are:

Any sharp points on earthed and live parts in the GIS in
the vicinity of on electric field causes a field enhancement. Figure 70 Frequency tuned resonant bolt on test sets for on-site testing of
This reduces the ability of the GIS to withstand Switching GIS
and Lightning Surges. Any sharp protrusions exceeding a
Once energized the following monitoring options are

Chemical Analysis of SF6 gases

Permanent installed SF6 gas gauges usually monitor the

Gas Density which provides an indication that a sufficient
quantity of gas is present in the chamber. Monitored.
These are typically equipped with relay contact that are
connected to the SCADA system to signal the state of the
Gas pressure/density. Figure 73 Example of limits sets by one utility considering various

Partial Discharge Measurements (electrical)

Onsite Partial Discharge Measurements fall into two


Conventional PD measurement in the low frequency range

(<1MHz) according to the IEC 60270 standard. In general
Figure 71 SF6 density gauge installed on GIS CB chamber some direct connection of the PD sensor (Coupling
Capacitor or HF-CT) to the test circuit is required although
In addition, it is common to conduct annual SF6 quality in some instances the phases not energised can be used to
check using portable gas analysers. decouple the signal. This is covered in part 1 of this paper.

Non-conventional measurements in the UHF frequency


When partial discharges occur, they generate

electromagnetic waves that propagate through the
switchgear. In Gas Insulated switchgear the transients
produced by the defects have a very short rise time
producing Electro Magnetic Radiations in the upper MHz
to low GHz range.
Figure 72 Example of SF6 analyser commonly used in Australia
Gas Insulated Switchgear is fully shielded and no
magnetic radiation can escape easily. To detect this EMI it
Parameters measured using the instruments include:
is common to install during manufacture antennas (UHF
sensors) inside the switchgear.
Humidity/Moisture and by-products

Moisture and SF6 are normally non-reactive with each other

but in the presence of a high temperature from arcing the
hydrogen and oxygen of the water vapor may react with the
sulfur and fluorine of the SF6 to create hydrofluoric acid (HF),
sulfuric acid (H2SO4, and sulfur dioxide (SO2)
These by-products reduce the dielectric breakdown strength
inside the GIS across insulating surfaces and causes corrosion. Figure 74 Internal GIS UHF sensor
The amount of acid is related to the amount of moisture.
SF6 must have a certain level of purity to ensure safe operation The most common option to monitor the Partial Discharge
of the GIS. Activity is via a spectrum analyser and an IEC 60270 type
Partial Discharge analyzer, a UHF Down Converter and
Purity IEC type Partial Discharge analyzer or a UHF PD detector
with integrated spectrum analyser.
Safe limits for moisture and purity are included in
guidelines and standards but vary between companies.
compartments and inspection windows provide the only
aperture where Electric Magnetic radiation can escape.
Specialised external UHF sensors can be fitted to these
apertures in the shielding to detect the EMI waves.

Figure 75- UHF Test Circuit

To maintain good measurement sensitivity a high bandwidth

across the whole measurement path is desirable. The typical
frequencies of interest for GIS is between 250KkHz to 1.5GHz.
Due to the near perfect shielding and a detection frequency of
> 200MHz, away from most interference signals, this method
permits the most sensitive PD measurement. A calibration of
the UHF method in terms of pC is not possible although
parallel measurements have confirmed sensitive levels of
<2pC. It is recommended to perform a sensitivity check to
determine attenuation through the GIS. There is little
attenuation through straight section but GIS components such Figure 77 External Window and spacer sensor.
as C/B or isolators can attenuate the Signal considerable.
Measurements with the external spacer or spacer sensors
are not as interference immune as the fully shielded
measurement with internal integrated UHF sensors

UHF Measurement results

Measurements are taken initially in the spectrum analyser

mode and if possible compared to background or historical
With test voltage applied, large
uplift across wide spectrum
from background response

Background without test voltage,

no fault

Figure 78 UHF signal detected by Spectrum Analyser Circuit

From the spectrum view a frequency of interest is selected

and a time resolved or Point of wave measurement is taken
to identify the type of fault. The pattern is synchronised to
Signal injected into UHF sensor Response measured at adjacent UHF
the mains frequency via a wireless adapter.
using Pulse Generator sensors with Pulse Generator OFF
(background) and ON
Figure 76 Sensitivity Check on GIS

Many older GIS systems don’t have integrated Disk or

Cone UHF sensors. Then the epoxy spacers between the
Figure 80 Knowledge rules to identify defects based on the acoustic
Figure 79 UHF Signal in Point of Wave/ Phase synchronised view
The measurement is immune against most types of
Various knowledge rules are available to categorise the PD external interference, has good sensitivity for detection of
patterns based on shape, statistical parameters and frequency the most common types of defects. Once a defect is
content detected the origin can be localised to at least between two
flanges and a risk assessment based on source
Acoustic PD measurements characterisation is possible.

A valid alternative or a complementary technique to assess The following UHF and corresponding signals were
the GIS for any defects is the acoustic measurement detected using a portable device that combines both UHF
already covered in part 1 of the paper. and acoustic modes.

Acoustic measurements are performed by using an UHF Mode- Electrical

external piezoelectric sensor and a portable instrument as
shown. UHF Spectrum up to 1GHz shows PD
The sensor picks up the activity indicated by the large
diversion from Background and high
acoustic waves/sound that
Peak to Average ratio
propagate in the enclosure
due to emitted acoustic
signals from defects inside
the GIS. Each section of
the GIS enclosure
separated by flanges should
be tested with at least one measuring point.
The acoustic signals from the described defects are
generally wide banded - partial discharges in the range of
10-100 kHz and particles up to several MHz
The acoustic signals from the defects may vary widely
from continuous signals from corona to pulse shaped
signals from for example In Time /Phase resolved mode
moving particles. The at 711.2MHz 6 MHz BW high
shape of the acoustic signal signals but poor relation to
will depend on the type of power cycle
source, the propagation
path of the signal and the
sensor characteristics. Figure 81 UHF spectrum and point of wave mode traces
The measured parameters
of the acoustic signal can be displayed and evaluated in
three different measuring modes – the continuous mode,
the particle mode and the phase resolved mode.
Acoustic Mode Based on the parameters of the signal some estimation
about size and risks can be made.

Time, Motion and Travel Testing of switchgear

Whilst so far the discussions have been limited to the

assessment of the insulation quality of Switchgear it
Both Bar and should be noted that the circuit breaker and its operating
Oscilloscope mode mechanism itself is basically a mechanical device. Life
show high signal expectancy of HV circuit breakers is at least 30 years but
levels with poor
power cycle under normal operating conditions the breaker will operate
correlation less than 10 minutes and under fault conditions it will
operate less than 1 minute throughout its service life.

During the Time and Motion test various timing and

motion measurements are be made. After the test is
complete the results are compared to the manufacturer’s
Timing and Motion measurements are conducted to verify
any issues with
synchronized During the test we may identify problems in the:
mode shows some
phase correlation Mechanism, Linkages & Shock Absorbers – the most
common problems discovered are lubrication issues,
mechanical binding, or mechanical interference. These
types of problems may be identified by abnormal timing,
travel, or velocity results.
Main & Resistor Arcing Contact Systems – these types of
problems are most frequently identified by excessive
contact bounce on the contact timing plots.
Control Circuit – these types of problems can be found
directly or indirectly during the motion and timing test.
Most frequently they are first identified indirectly, where
Interval/particle mode the problem in the control circuit causes the CB to fail to
clearly shows a bouncing
particle inside the GIS
operate or to fall outside the manufacturer’s timing
specifications. During the subsequent investigation
problems in the control circuit can also be identified
directly using the instrument’s Analog or Auxiliary

Figure 82 Acoustic Signatures for same defect

The particle plot (signal amplitude vs. flight time) shows

whether the signal is due to a particle.
The flight times provide information on whether the
particle moves into the high-field region. Signal
amplitudes provide information on the particle length.
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