Oct 7, 2020
By: Owen Hurst
Recently, Panel Builder US had the opportunity to speak with Bitronics, a NovaTech company, that is focused on delivering power measurement, process control, and substation automation.
On this occasion we focused on power measurement tools designed for a variety of end-use applications, including the utility sector that is increasingly automating and relying on control infrastructure.
As this sector increases its focus on automation and control, Bitronics has devoted itself to delivering products that will aid in driving a focus on automated power measurement and control. The implementation of control panels and infrastructure is a big next step for utilities and is expanding the need and focus of panel builders and integrators.
We asked a little about the type of products they offer and how Bitronics Power measurement products differed from traditional control components?
“First off, we work primarily with 3-phase electricity with a core product focus on SCADA Meters, SCADA and Automation transducers, Event Recorders and Distribution Grid Monitors. However, when discussing automating substations one of the most unique products is the digital fault recorder.”
In some ways Bitronics Digital Fault Recorder is like a relay in the sense that it will feed data into a SCADA system. However, there are some additional features that, when utilizing new control products from Bitronics, have enhanced capabilities.
We will discuss these further, but first need to lay the context for why advanced recording and control is important.
Let us look back to the 2003 blackout. At the time, the North American Reliability Corporation (NERC) had to go out and do forensic analysis of the issue. With technology today, the need to take time and manpower to do physical forensic analysis has been eliminated. Best practices, now and moving forward, will be for substations to have control panels with components capable of recording and capturing data as well as maintaining awareness of component operations for advanced maintenance notification.
Based on former events NERC has taken a proactive approach to control infrastructure and disturbance monitoring equipment by implementing requirements for Dynamic Disturbance Recording (DDR), Fault Recording (FR) and Sequence of Events Recording (SOER). These are outlined in Requirements R1 through R5 and depending on the substation require companies to identify Bus Locations, Notification of Recorders in place, SOER, FR and require under R1 a 5-year assessment.
Recognizing the importance of control panel components in substation operation, we can return to the Bitronics and their unique control solutions that meet these requirements.
Bitronics recorders do more than a standard relay in delivering information. They can identify the type of disturbance and are equipped with sufficient capacity to keep dynamic disturbance recording for 10 days. This makes it extremely easy for NERC to gain information about incidents. And further, rather than require a data dump, the recorders are capable of delivering data within an identified time-frame. Again, providing detailed data of the incident without requiring someone to sift through all recorded data, particularly since the recorders are recording up to 30 points of data a second.
While we know that the Bitronics recorders meet NERC standards the question now becomes location, which is why one of the requirements is for substation operators to identify Bus locations. Locations is important but perhaps not easily standardized. In new substation builds this is more easily addressed, however when implementing new recording devices in existing substations there may be limits on available locations.
Bitronics recorders are not much different in size to a traditional relay, and in the end may only need to monitor one or two buses to gain the data needed. It is small enough that it can easily be placed in a panel or hung directly off CT’s and will not interfere with relays or other protection equipment. Essentially, once put in place, it’s only needed in the event that an incident has occurred and data is required.
The direction taken by Bitronics Power Measurement products are truly focused on the pushing forward more intelligent control infrastructure in power monitoring and control and will be a big part of the continued automation of substations throughout the US. A direction that is going to see more panel builders and integrators expanding their industries served.