What is Partial Discharge? 

A partial discharge (PD) is an electrical discharge or spark that bridges a small portion of the high voltage insulation between two conducting electrodes or a conducting electrode and earth. Partial discharge can occur at any point in the insulation system, where the electric field strength exceeds the breakdown strength of the insulating material. PD activity can have a detrimental effect on your MV and HV assets. 

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The Value of Partial Discharge (PD) Data

The latest PD instruments and systems are extremely valuable for identifying faults as they develop at an early stage and preventing them from developing into failures – the ‘quick health check’ approach.

But the information they gather is also playing a major part in transforming the industry’s approach to asset management itself: from one based on time-scheduled maintenance and replacement, to one based on a detailed understanding of the condition of the asset base.

Maximising the value of PD data is essentially carried out at two levels:

1. Asset Condition Registers

Expert analysis and interpretation of PD activity readings gives a clear indication of the condition of assets, including accurate predictions of when they are likely to fail. In EA Technology’s case, this is based on a unique database, built up over more than 30 years, which shows how tens of thousands of asset types have deteriorated over time.

This approach enables operators to develop registers of assets, in which each asset is accorded a ‘health index’ showing its present condition, its predicted date of failure and/or its remaining service life.

There is strong evidence that basing maintenance and replacement on actual condition is far more cost effective than time-scheduled interventions or a ‘wait until it stops working’ approach. This is because condition based regimes:

  • Prevent expensive, unexpected failures.
  • Prevent needless invasive maintenance, which is costly, disruptive and often creates more faults.
  • Enables operators to prioritise expenditure on a strictly ‘need to’ basis.

2. Condition Based Risk Management (CBRM)

The ability to measure the condition of live assets is the key to CBRM: a comprehensive new methodology, which takes condition based asset management to a higher level, enabling managers to take more intelligent decisions on asset renewal strategies.

The effectiveness of CBRM derives from factoring together PROBABILITY (based on asset condition) and CONSEQUENCES (based on quantifiable losses) of asset failure, to determine risk in terms of financial cost.

CBRM provides the answers to the key questions:

  • If an asset costing a certain amount fails, what will be the consequential loss to the business?
  • If an asset is refurbished or replaced at a certain cost, what will be the benefit to the business?
  • Therefore, where should we prioritise our asset renewal spending?

By Neil Davies, EA Technology International



The UltraTEV® Plus² makes PD discovery simple!

EA Tech Ultra Tev plus


This latest hand-held PD instrument from EA Technology is easy-to-use, and combines additional sensing capabilities with real time advanced analytical features. 

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Click here to DOWNLOAD more information on the UltraTEV® Plus².


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