The equipment monitoring packages were installed in the control cabinet of each circuit breaker. RG&E chose to use ABB’s Circuit Breaker Sentinel monitoring device because of the features and capabilities it offers. Devices were installed on either a wall panel or a floor-mount bracket, depending on space availability within the control cabinet. The unit consists of a microprocessor and sensors used to collect the required breaker information and then are connected to the microprocessor by pluggable connections.

Once the wiring and installation were completed, the setup, or the parameters, had to be set. The setup was performed in less than five minutes, because the device was set automatically to default parameters once the breaker and mechanism type were selected. The parameters also are multi-staged. Not only was a normal operation range defined, but caution and problem limits were set, as well. Alarms notify RG&E when a certain condition, such as coil energization time, reaction time, contact speed, mechanism times, interrupter travel time, SF6 pressure and temperature, and interrupter wear increments, reach the caution or problem limit. During each data collection performed by the monitoring device, the numeric value of the condition and distance to the alarm limits are collected, transmitted and stored.


RG&E determined that wireless communication would be the most cost-effective means of communications. The monitoring system will securely furnish periodic reports and maintenance recommendations to a central location to be reviewed. If needed, the same communication system can automatically dispatch expert service personnel to address any site assets whose needs are remotely detected.

Any communication using the transmission line power system needs to meet the North American Electric Reliability Corp.’s (NERC’s) Critical Infrastructure Protection (CIP) compliance. NERC’s CIP plan comprises more than 100 reliability standards and sets requirements for protecting critical assets, those that materially impact the reliability of the transmission line power system. In this case, the wireless communication functions independently from the utility’s transmission line operating and control system, exempting it from NERC’s CIP requirements.

Reliability Optimized

While evaluating suppliers for the transmission line reliability upgrade project, RG&E attended the Finepoint Circuit Breaker Conference in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S. During the conference, the utility was introduced to ABB’s asset monitoring solutions and quickly realized the benefits of using the company’s in-house technology for software integration.

ABB’s Asset Optimization software package is designed to specifically monitor customer assets regardless of type. It allows all information to be examined in one seamless interface by using object-oriented features. This interface allows a complete view of each circuit breaker’s health and history. It also displays all information required to install, operate and maintain each breaker, including documentation, alarms, events, notifications, real-time camera feed, reports, weather conditions and integration with maintenance management systems.

The software package helps RG&E to process information in a way that optimizes cost savings, as well. It maximizes RG&E’s maintenance effectiveness using root-cause analysis. It does this by assisting circuit breaker problem diagnoses as well as offering corrective recommendations. For example, by calculating historical trends of the particular condition, the system can identify whether this is a sudden or gradual change to the condition value. Additionally, the system redundantly archives the data to ensure reliable long-term storage.

With multiple monitoring devices on several breakers, the interface also can cross-examine all features among the power equipment. This way, the software can prioritize and better troubleshoot all problems within the substation, line or fleet. The highly scalable system also can be readily applied to other systems and electrical apparatuses, and can accommodate
future growth.