ABB brings world's first submersible transformer inspection robot to the Middle East

ABB 24ABB introduced TXplore™, a unique submersible transformer inspection robot service solution, to the Middle East market at the Water, Energy, Technology, and Environment Exhibition (WETEX) in Dubai

Equipped with high-definition cameras that provide photographs and video and can be remotely controlled enabling real-time customer inspections without physical presence, the innovative ‘robot diver’ allows the transformer tank to be inspected without removing the oil and eliminates the need to place a human inspector at risk or exposing the transformer’s internal structure to external contaminants.

Power transformers are critical for moving electrical energy over long distances. To ensure a long service life, maintenance must be carried out as transformers age and can create problems. The largest transformers are typically filled with mineral oil, which acts as a coolant and provides electrical insulation for the high voltage transformers, but both mineral oil and the cellulose insulation breakdown due to continuous use and ageing.

Demonstrating the world's first inspection robot, Andre Steinberg, vice-president global sales and marketing, transformer service, said that having a robot to do a human's job is safe from an HSE perspective as inspectors are not exposed to the dangerous fumes and oils inside the transformer.

“TXplore™ can work up to a temperature of 60 degree Celsius and is equipped with lights and cameras for visualisation and more transmission of data respectively. Live feed is sent back to the station who can then rectify the issue with the transformer, thus eliminating the need of a human to enter the harsh and confined space environment. Also, the robot can reach zones inaccessible to humans. And with hi-res images, any probability of a wrong decision is highly reduced. The evaluation allows the transformer operator to confirm asset readiness and can also be used as baseline data for future comparisons.”

An onsite inspector manoeuvres the robot using a wireless controller and with support from ABB Ability platform, transformer inspectors can watch the feed in real-time from remote locations. TXplore™ can work in aged oil conditions as well due to its LED illumination.

In a traditional scenario, it may take from four to 10 days for the inspection to be complete. With the advanced robotic system, the transformer can be up and running in two days' time.

Alain Charles Publishing, University House, 11-13 Lower Grosvenor Place, London, SW1W 0EX, UK
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