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07 Dec 2018

Switchgear innovation - what's changing?

The switchgear market is changing at a rapid pace – we take a look at some of the areas where innovation is charging ahead:

Is smaller actually better?

There’s a drive across many industries to develop smaller components than ever before and this is also the case with switchgear. As plants become more extensive, reductions are being made across the board in the size of individual panels and the length of supporting steelwork and structures.

Whilst this can cut down on manufacturing costs and make the installations themselves more versatile, panel designers do have some challenges to negotiate. For example, the size of the incoming cables is likely to remain the same and the boards must still be able to accommodate this, and generally, the more compact a switchboard becomes, the more consideration has to be given to heat dissipation. This is where innovative venting and cooling systems come into play.

Efficiency is everything

The number of drives being controlled by switchboards is continually rising and systems need to have the capacity to effectively manage a greater number of outputs than ever before. Alongside this, performance management and analytics technology is becoming more important, particularly in terms of load shedding and fault detection. These systems offer real-time insights into capacity, load and operational status and allow remote control, intelligent motor starting and more accessible predictive maintenance. At a time when data is king, the more insights that can be gleaned from switchgear systems, the better.

Generating your own power?

Some plants which generate their own power and sell it back to the Grid can use analytics software in the control boards of switchgear systems. This can be used to monitor power usage levels, the number of units being fed back into the network and identify faults and specific site power trends.

It’s time to consider arc fault protection

The 18th Edition (BS 76761:2018) regulations were launched last July and from 31 December 2018, businesses in the UK must consider whether or not their switchgear systems need to have integrated arc fault protection. This is a relatively new step for the UK and involves assessing how likely the system is to have a catastrophic fault. Systems can then be installed to firstly detect the fault, and secondly to disconnect the relevant supply immediately, protecting other equipment and personnel in the plant.

Switchgear can go green, too

Global efforts to cut down plastic usage have reached the electrical engineering and design sector. Whilst traditional switchboard designs can contain a large amount of non-biodegradable material, our new Vector system MV Switchgear is SF6 free and made from highly recyclable materials.

Follow this link for more information about our switchgear systems.