UAE utility authority chooses ABB’s Ekip UP to upgrade competitor's circuit breakers
25 February 2019
A plant on the Arabian Gulf has replaced outmoded trip units with a digital retrofit from ABB that reduced costs by 50 percent while dramatically improving capabilities.
After years of service, power equipment in any facility is likely to begin degrading or simply to become obsolete as new technical requirements emerge. When circuit breakers in large facilities become outdated, replacing them can be a very time-consuming and expensive proposition. Now, however, ABB has developed a faster, more cost-effective and easier-to-install alternative to swapping out entire devices.
ABB’s Ekip UP, part of the ABB AbilityTM digital offering, is a low-voltage digital unit with built-in software that monitors, protects and controls the next generation of plants. Of particular importance, it can be used to upgrade any withdrawable or fixed low-voltage breakers in use today, even those from other manufacturers. ABB’s service team in the United Arab Emirates recently installed Ekip UP technology at the Sharjah Electricity & Water Authority (SEWA). SEWA distributes and generates electricity, water and natural gas to residents of the Sharjah Emirate.
The SEWA Qasimia substation had been operating with low-voltage breakers from a major supplier—a competitor to ABB—but recently engineers there found all the breakers’ trip units to be defective.
SEWA was unable to replace the defective trip units, because they had become obsolete. The supplier suggested that SEWA replace the full set of breakers, a significant undertaking with a very high cost and substantial downtime required.
Seeking an alternative solution, SEWA contacted ABB. The service experts at ABB had a better idea. If SEWA only required partial replacement of the breakers, which mechanically were operating without issue, ABB could install Ekip UP to replace the malfunctioning electronic trip release. This solution would optimize costs and capitalize on ABB’s fast delivery capability.
A technology to update every low-voltage breaker
Since Ekip UP is fully compatible with any existing low-voltage breaker, even competitors’ devices, the ABB service team recommended Ekip UP Protect+ to replace two of SEWA’s defective trip units as a first step before later replacing nine more units in the same switchgear. The first units were installed in the field within one month of SEWA’s inquiry, with a very limited shutdown.
In planning future upgrades, SEWA has now shown interest in the ABB Ability™ Electrical Distribution Control System (EDCS) for remote monitoring of low-voltage distribution in different substations. Ekip UP connects directly to the EDCS cloud platform with all metering and power quality measurements embedded so that data can be uploaded from the full electrical system. It can be managed remotely through an intuitive interface to supervise the entire electrical system and perform remote diagnosis from anywhere, at any time.
“While Ekip UP has proved to be a very cost-effective way to replace our defective trip units, it is serving as far more than a maintenance item,” said Hamad Al Teneiji, manager, power transmission department, SEWA. “In our plant it has brought monitoring and control of power into the digital age, with faster, more convenient and more confident management of our power supply. We are most grateful to ABB Service for its recommendation and installation of Ekip UP.”
Even better news for SEWA is that the Ekip UP solution and EDCS fit within its annual maintenance budget. Not only did Ekip UP update the switchgear with additional protection and maximize uptime through its plug-and-play installation, but it also matched SEWA requirements and—because it was a restoration project—saved more than 50 percent in costs compared with the competitor’s proposal.
“The SEWA experience serves as another successful example of service team ingenuity from ABB,” said Vijay Kumar, Service Manager, Electrification Products, UAE, ABB. Sekhar Chakraborty, ABB Ability™ Local Market Development Manager for ABB’s Smart Power business, added, “When a company’s facility is operating with obsolete and defective breakers from any manufacturer, engineers can call on ABB to replace just the trip units to dramatically upgrade the breakers with Ekip UP digital, cloud-connecting technology that saves money and downtime while making power management easier and more certain. This smart choice can provide any plant with a digital unit capable of monitoring, protecting and controlling the facility.”