Chuck Kelly encourages those who are just beginning their careers in the power industry to ask questions and those who are well into their careers to share their knowledge. He seeks to fill the predicted void in experience and knowledge necessary to “keep the lights on.”

As technical instructor and writer at SD Myers Inc., (SDMI) Tallmadge, Ohio, Kelly provides information to individuals who are tasked with filling that void left from the retired workforce. He develops curriculum that focuses on intelligent transformer maintenance and life cycle management. As he researches to develop effective presentations, he discovers information that benefits the course attendees.

For the past 11 years, Kelly has been a transformer maintenance instructor at SDMI. His course instruction has included such diverse topics as: "Transformer Design, Construction and Materials," "Factory and Field Electrical Testing" and "Transformer Maintenance Options." Prior to becoming an instructor, Kelly moved through the ranks at SDMI in various positions including field technician, survey specialist/quote developer and contract/risk management administrator.

“Past experience and roles have also proven to be invaluable,” Kelly said. “For example, my early days with SDMI allowed me an opportunity to work in the field. In my opinion, there is no substitute for hands-on experience. As the company grew, other opportunities became available and I came out of the field and into the office. My time as a quote developer allowed me to review many requests for quotations, bid specifications and job scopes for transformer maintenance, refurbishments and disposals.”

Kelly presents several courses at SDMI, including The Half-Century Transformer, Oct. 29-31, a course that builds from foundational to a more advanced understanding of managing a transformer maintenance program and plan. Since 1975, this course has stood the test of time and has benefited thousands of people who are “competent, confident and reliable.” The course includes a tour of SDMI's Lab and Rewind Facility.

“I began presenting The Half-Century Transformer seminar with Joe Kelly--an industry icon--a number of years ago. He was my mentor,” Kelly said. “The Half-Century was and still is an excellent overview of transformer maintenance with emphasis on oil and dissolved gas analysis to monitor the condition and operation of the transformer.”

The seminar serves reliability engineers and asset managers well. Eliminating or mitigating risk and managing assets have become crucially important to organizations, whether they own just a few or a few thousand transformers, according to Kelly. “Providing a session or class on risk-based asset management complements the maintenance classes for transformer life cycle management.”

Transformers are generally the largest, heaviest and most expensive equipment in an electrical system. “They are a significant physical asset and need to be maintained to maximize their life and reliability,” Kelly said. “Providing the tools and information to do this is certainly important to the industry and those who need to know.”

As an instructor, Kelly encourages students to get out of the office and into the field. He was initially attracted to the work schedule of one week in the field and one week in the office. “For me it was the best of both worlds. One week I was out getting my hands dirty, and the next, in the office consulting with transformers owners on proper testing and maintenance. The fieldwork gave me opportunities to go into different manufacturing plants and industries, as well as large and small utilities,” he said.

He also mentioned that the field work should not be a token hour or two here and there, but some extended periods working on a significant project such as installation and commissioning or major repair or refurbishment of a transformer. “Many forward-thinking companies will provide these opportunities for new employees. Be observant and safe,” Kelly said.

Kelly still likes to get his hands dirty, “but nowadays, working in my yard mostly carries it out. I do value my time at home and attending sports activities for my 10 grandchildren.”