Relay retrofit program
ABB has re-engineered its approach to replacing time-served IEDs in a move that has reduced the time required from one month to only one hour. Using the new Relay Retrofit Program, ABB’s customers will ensure the extended life of their switchgear and make substantial savings in time and effort.
In the conventional approach, engineers must identify as many as several hundred parameters for the old relay and transfer them across to a new unit. Installing the new unit into the space designed for the old has its own challenges. And then testing and commissioning identifies any errors in transferring the parameters before the replacement is complete.
An operator with 100 relays could be looking at more than eight years of effort. And with an installed base 700,000 relays worldwide, ABB recognised that a new method was needed.
By exploring the logic of their relays and creating a set of software and installation tools, ABB has created its Relay Retrofit Program.
In the new approach, ABB’s engineer will arrive on-site with the new IED, a pre-prepared set of wiring, a software tool and all the tools and equipment needed to install the new relay within an hour.
Once on-site, the relay’s low-voltage compartment is de-energised and secured. The engineer will then connect the old IED to a migration support tool loaded onto a laptop. This takes a perfect copy of the parameters of the existing IED and configures the new IED – a step that can be achieved in just a few minutes.
A set of ready-made wiring supplied with markings that correspond to both the existing and the new IED means that wiring can be transferred quickly and accurately from old to new, again within just a few minutes.
Fitting the new IED into the existing panel is straightforward using a customised set of tools to extend the cut-out in the panel if the new IED is larger than its predecessor. If it is smaller, a pre-prepared cover plate will cover the gap that is left by the old unit and fit around the new IED perfectly.
Moving on to testing and commissioning, an ABB Relion test box, testing template and test device bring together all the tools to test and commission the new IED in an easy and reliable manner.
In total, retrofitting a single relay will only take around one hour, with no risk of error or surprises as the parameters have been transferred digitally rather than manually.
Replacing old with new
To date, ABB has explored the logic of some of the most commonly installed IEDs that it supplied around 20 years ago. These include models from the SPAJ 140 series of overcurrent and earth fault relays, the SPAM 150 C motor protection relay and the SPAU 130 C overvoltage and undervoltage relay.
All of these can be replaced with relays from the Relion 615 range of IEDs. These are both future proof with IEC 61850 and interoperable with legacy systems. They have standard configurations and an extensive set of Ethernet and serial communication options.
An important aspect of the Relion 615 units for the Relay Retrofit Program is their plug-in design that speeds up installation, maintenance and testing, and allows the cases to be installed and wired before delivery.
The benefits of the approach are clear. By upgrading relays to IEC 61850 compliant Relion 615 models, operators will bring their protection and control systems into the modern age, therefore extending the life of the switchgear.
And by using a process that delivers the upgrade in a fraction of the time of the conventional approach, replacing relays has become something that an operator can now consider seriously. Using the conventional approach, a programme of replacing relays would represent a major investment.
By examining the logic of its legacy devices and re-engineering the process, ABB has opened up the potential to digitise substation control and automation on a large scale.