HVPD blog: A first-hand look at our Partial Discharge training

Mar 28, 2019

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By Richard Redman, Marketing Manager.

Our Partial Discharge Level I & II training is important for anyone working with large electrical assets, including our customers, but it’s also something we put our new employees through to give them a thorough understanding of what Partial Discharge is, how we find it, and what we do with the information we gather. As a new employee, I recently completed our training course, and I wanted to share my first-hand experiences.

My professional background is diverse, but I haven’t been involved in electrical engineering theory before – the closest being working for a company that has a number of large electrical assets across a number of factories. But even then, I had nothing to do with their operation or maintenance.

I had only been in my post at HVPD for six weeks when I took part in the training course, so apart from a month and a half’s on-the-job experience, I was a complete newbie to the whole concept of Partial Discharge.

The Level I session began with our Senior Test Engineer Dane McGreavy giving us an introduction to HVPD and Partial Discharge itself. A lot of the information in this first section was information I already knew, but it didn’t take long before I was learning a lot of new things about Partial Discharge and HVPD.

Taking part in the training alongside me were individuals from the Power Generation and Oil & Gas industries, and they had a number of asset-specific questions for Dane, who was able to answer everything in detail. I have had chance to learn broadly about Dane’s role since I started at HVPD, but I could see he is very knowledgeable on some of the more specific details about Partial Discharge and the effect it can have on a business.

It was really useful to see real-life photographic examples of the effect that Partial Discharge can have on cables, switchgear, and other assets. The training module used images to good effect – it’s no wonder that un-monitored machines can eventually succumb to catastrophic failure.

After Dane’s introduction, it was over to Test Services Manager Lewis Dodd to give us a detailed overview of the off-line Partial Discharge test methods we use at HVPD. He covered the different definitions and methods, including an introduction to HVPD’s test facility at our head office in Manchester, UK.

Lewis used case studies to explain what it is that we do during an off-line test, what we are looking for, the software we use, and what we do with the results. Like Dane, Lewis was also asked a number of challenging questions about the specifics of off-line testing, which he dealt with impressively and to the askers’ satisfaction.

HVPD is committed to investing in its own people, who not only have been through lots of training themselves, but have a wealth of experience in the young field of Partial Discharge testing and monitoring. These people were certainly on show during our training course. As well as the testing and monitoring technology, HVPD provides a wealth of expertise that cannot be underestimated. Our guys 

The delegates who took part in our course were even able to see Partial Discharge first-hand in the afternoon session, as Applications Engineer Andreas Kokkotis used our test facility to recreate an audible leakage situation. The demonstration was really useful, and put into context a lot of the theory we had been learning about in the classroom sections of the course.

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At the end of each day, we had to sit through a written exam, testing us on the detailed information we had been taught so far. With so much to learn, this was a daunting task! I had the nervous feeling I’d not had since school or university, hoping that the revision preparation I had done was sufficient to get me through. However, there was no time for week’s of revision, we had only learned everything in the previous few hours!

The second day was structured similarly, with a morning session full of in-depth presentations, this time going into even more detail to reflect the fact that we had reached the Level II section of the course. The main theme of the second day was asset-specific Partial Discharge testing. We learned about the PD testing and diagnostics in the context of power cables, switchgear and transformers.

In the afternoon of the second day, we got to see some of the equipment in action, which really helped us to understand the job that the test engineers perform when they are working in real life testing situations. Under the supervision of Test Engineer Ross Chorlton, delegates were able to use one of HVPD’s handheld PDS Insight 2 machines, and ‘test’ a recreated switchgear panel for PD.

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The exam on the second day was even more challenging. However, I’m pleased to say I passed (it would have been embarrassing if an HVPD employee failed!) and feel like I have gained a strong understanding of the basics of Partial Discharge.

The information-intensive course was more useful and detailed than I ever imagined it to be. I came away from the second day thinking I had learned far more than I thought I would. I’ve entered into new industries before, and never gained this level of specific knowledge in such a short space of time. I would say that this sort of learning would have taken me an extra six months of on-the-job experience, but it was crammed into two days.

I can see why our training courses are considered by many to be essential to gaining an understanding of what PD is, how it’s detected, and what we can do with the information we collect. The more we know about PD, the more money can be saved. They really are vital for anyone who is responsible for large MV/HV assets and wants to know more about PD, and how PD testing/monitoring can save you a lot of time, money and problems further down the line. The case studies we learned about on this two-day course proved that alone.

After the course was over, I spoke to one delegate from the Oil & Gas sector – who had actually travelled from overseas specifically for our training event – what he thought of the training. I handed him my business card and told him that if he had any feedback or constructive criticism that can help us improve the training courses that we host, he could get in touch. His immediate response was that he couldn’t think of anything we could do differently.

We don’t stand still in any aspect of what we do. Partial Discharge is still a very young field of study, and our company is evolving all the time. This should, and is, reflected in our training courses, which have grown over time into the definitive courses on Partial Discharge.

As HVPD are a globally-recognised name, we run these courses internationally. Check out our events page to see if we are hosting one in your area.