In his work as a transformer engineer at Doble Engineering Company, Bill Griesacker is always working to improve and become better in the way he does things.

"In my work with supporting procurement (factory inspections) and root cause analysis projects I have seen the common link for the need for continuous improvement, the need to improve the way we do things," Griesacker said.

As part of that need to improve, Griesacker trains other engineers on transformer inspections. He will be speaking on a number of topics at Doble's 2015 Life of a Transformer Seminar, Feb. 9-13, in San Antonio, Texas. He will present two sessions: Transformer Specification and Transformer Vendor Prequalification and Design Review. The purchase of a power transformer can easily account for the majority of investment into a new transmission or distribution substation. As users strive for the most effective investment, they should consider life-cycle owning costs, rather than only the purchase price. It is important to understand the actual loss cost and physical design impacts when conducting a loss evaluation.

Design reviews are used to help establish an agreed-upon design and help expedite the procurement process by bringing both parties together to discuss the technical details of transformer design and making sure the new transformer will meet necessary specifications. Factory inspections are used during the procurement process to verify quality and workmanship, while also establishing a direct communication channel that promotes quick resolutions if problems arise. The goal of these inspections is to minimize schedule delays and ensure the accuracy and quality of the product.

"Most new electric grid expansion projects big and small usually require new transformers, and there are a number of key points to consider when purchasing new transformers. For transformers in service, it is critical that those who are responsible for these assets understand how to get the most out of their equipment and recognize the warning signs when action needs to be taken," Griesacker said. "The power grid infrastructure is aging, not only in North America but around the world. For example, Europe is living with this reality also. Transformers are one piece of equipment that ages with use and time and there are a large number of older transformers that will need continued maintenance and will eventually need to be replaced."

Griesacker brings everyday experiences to his seminars. He routinely performs transformer factory inspections as a transformer engineer at Doble, including coil, core assembly, pre-processing, and pre-tanking inspections. He witnesses factory acceptance testing as well as various special factory inspections. He is also involved in factory and field failure root-cause analysis studies that help him understand the problems that are encountered and what can go wrong, which bring an element of practical experience to the discussions. Griesacker is part of Doble's team of transformer experts who are able to draw on their collective knowledge and global experience thanks to their backgrounds working in or managing transformer manufacturing operations.

"We conduct transformer condition assessment studies of new and aged transformers, which give us a broad understanding on how transformers age with years of service and the problems that may be encountered," he said.

Griesacker decided early in his college studies that he wanted to focus on electric power engineering since it was the career path less chosen and because of the challenging course work. He has enjoyed every step of the way with the continual challenges. He likes the variety of work and equipment in his position.

"The work is challenging due the critical nature of the projects, critical equipment, rush orders, unique designs, solving big problems in the factory or in the field," he said.

He shares with students lessons he has learned including: "Make sure you have the details right before you proceed. In general, too often I see the process at hand changed or rushed along without the decision makers having the important facts needed to make good decisions," Griesacker said. "I guess it brings us to the idea that we should make sure we are doing it right the first time. We know that if things don't go well the first time, we may be doing it again a second time, usually with significant increases in the schedule and cost."

Griesacker is a member of the IEEE Transformers Committee. He holds positions including vice-chair and secretary on various subcommittees, working groups and task forces.

"This work helps develop the IEEE C57 family of standards that our industry uses in the specification, application and operation of transformers," he said.