for INMR WEEKLY TECHNICAL REVIEW
In certain countries, such as in south Asia, there are issues that seem to be forcing a repetition of the ‘learning curve’ experienced elsewhere decades ago. Insulator selection by utilities in these countries is usually based on lowest price among the approved suppliers who bid. This is because these utilities are mostly publically owned and mandated to buy at the lowest cost. Moreover, the engineering teams at these utilities often encounter difficulty convincing purchasing departments to apply the concept of lowest life cycle cost in place of lowest acquisition cost. This is because they do not yet have a firm answer to the question of life expectancy. Even the best quality insulators can be damaged after they have left the factory but before being put into service.
Indeed, problems with seriously damaged composite insulators have been reported during storage (as evident in this image from a power supply company in Greece) and make meaningless the concept of life cycle. For example, insulators shipped in wooden crates with no additional protection can be vulnerable to rodent attack on sheds. Similarly, there have been reports of biological growths appearing on insulators wrapped in plastic sheets or in cartons stored for long periods outdoors. In order to realize the potential benefits of reduced life cycle costs, as offered by composite insulators in high pollution service areas, these types of issues need to be resolved through better packaging and handling practices.
Prof. Ravi S. Gorur
Arizona State University
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