Technical support and encouragement helped switchgear manufacturer develop into new markets
ABB, the leading power and automation technology group, has lent its support to Boulting Technology, a leading UK manufacturer of electrical control systems, to help the firm integrate ABB’s Emax 2 circuit breaker into Boulting’s new range of future-proofed switchboards. The switchboards will help the panel builder move into the market for low voltage (LV) electrical switchboards with a fault rating of up to 100 kA.
Most panel builders focus on the market for switchboards rated at 50 to 80 kA, which are purchased by engineers in building services, industrial premises, utilities and other industries. By growing its capabilities to providing switchboards with current rating of 6300 A and 100 kA, Boulting Technology is now able to deliver power distribution boards for facilities that consume larger quantities of power at low voltage, such as data centres and the oil and gas industry.
Boulting introduced its new switchboards to help its customers integrate renewable energy such as solar photovoltaic (PV) panels or wind turbines. In addition, developments in building and industrial automation mean that the firm’s customers have growing requirements for switchboards with higher levels of energy efficiency, safety and flexibility.
Boulting Technology’s new approach to switchboards was particularly timely for two reasons that together mean that customers’ power distribution systems will be future proofed.
Compliance with the latest standards
The first is that the IEC 61439 standard for LV switchgear and control panel assemblies superseded the previous 60439 standard in November 2014. The new standard was introduced in 2010 with a four-year transition period. It included significant changes to its predecessor, such as a split in responsibilities between the manufacturer of the overall panels and the Original Equipment Manufacturers and changes to verification and testing of switchgear assemblies.
Now that it has fully superseded the previous standard, electrical design engineers, contractors and consultants must ensure that their switchboards are compliant.
By introducing its new range shortly after the adoption of the IEC 61439, Boulting Technology has ensured that the new switchboard designs will stand the test of time, helping operators to future-proof their power distribution systems.
Significant step in technology
The second driver was the improvement in circuit breaker technology introduced by ABB in the form of the Emax 2 circuit breaker in 2014. This was the reason that Boulting turned to ABB for support. By adopting the latest generation in circuit breaker technology, Boulting’s switchboards will have a long lifetime.
ABB launched the Emax 2 in response to calls from industry for higher levels of performance and functionality.
The breaker is available in four frame sizes that are up to 25 percent smaller in footprint and overall volume than comparable circuit breakers. The smaller size has enabled some operators to fit more functionality into smaller spaces, freeing up room for other revenue-generating services or allowing switchboards to fit into compact cabinets.
Additional functionality includes enhanced communication, measurement, intelligence and the option of generator protection. These factors offer important benefits to Boulting Technology and its customers.
In terms of communication and connectivity, the Emax 2 is compatible with the seven most common communications protocols, including IEC 61850 smart grid communication: Modbus, Profibus, Devicenet, Modbus TCP, Profinet and Ethernet IP.
The in-built measurement eliminates the need for external instrumentation and wiring to connect it, speeding up the build process for Boulting Technology. Measurement includes accurate measurement of current, voltage, power and power quality.
Intelligent decision-making comes in the form of a power controller function that monitors power usage and automatically switches loads off to save power according to a list of priority loads.
In addition, operators who require generator protection can select the Emax 2 with an integrated trip unit that enables customisable generator protection.
Type testing support
ABB’s support during the project included the supply of circuit breakers as well as technical support and encouragement. The development and testing of new switchboard panels is a long process that starts with mechanical design and construction of the metal enclosures that will house the switchgear and other components.
During the project, ABB supplied all four sizes of the Emax 2 to Boulting’s partner and manufacturer of enclosures Rolla, which created the enclosures and busbars and installed the circuit breakers. ABB also provided support during the type testing process, during which panels are tested against IEC 61439 to ensure that they are capable of performing safely under fault conditions.
Working together with Boulting and Rolla has meant that ABB’s customers have access to IEC 61439 certified switchboards to control the flow of power distribution that will stand the test of time.