Preventative Bus Duct Maintenance Saves Thousands in Unplanned Downtime Costs

The main goal of the power generation industry is to produce an uninterrupted supply of electricity to customers, allowing them to efficiently meet their demands. Any unplanned downtime is extremely costly and most equipment related failures can only be mitigated with proper maintenance. Bus duct systems are incredibly important in effectively distributing power to switchgear and various loads. Improper maintenance of bus duct systems can lead to problems resulting in catastrophic failures and costly downtime events. 

Bus Duct System Neglect 

Frequently, the critical systems that transmit power at generation or industrial facilities go neglected—and a common misconception exists that because bus duct systems do not utilize moving internal components, regular maintenance and service is not required. Carbon buildup and other foreign debris can contaminate bus systems, causing cataclysmic arcs and damage to equipment. If a bus system has not been inspected, maintenance has not been performed and if old hardware or gasket material is not replaced periodically, the results can mean prolonged unplanned outages, catastrophic equipment damage, and safety risks to personnel.  

Regular and systematic inspection of bus duct systems is highly recommended. If a bus duct system is installed in unfavorable conditions such as high temperature/humidity or dusty environments, the periodical inspection interval should be increased. 

Common reasons for bus failure:

  • Condensation and outside water intrusion
  • Conductor connection integrity
  • Dirt/foreign debris
  • Damaged gasket/bellows
  • Grounding/interference issues
  • Improper termination design/installation
  • Cracked weld joints 

Preventing Destructive Failures 

The multitude of potential failures that can occur on a bus dust systems led AZZ to develop and implement an effective comprehensive bus system maintenance plan. AZZ is the industry’s only provider of full-service bus inspection, maintenance and high-performance testing regardless of who manufactured the original bus system. The Preventative Maintenance program developed by AZZ is a result of decades of bus systems experience. Upon contacting the team, AZZ will immediately work with the facility’s staff to schedule a comprehensive on-site diagnostics study to better understand the specific situation and develop a targeted solution. The study is comprised of thorough visual inspections, advanced thermal imaging, low resistance, Hi-Pot and Meggar testing. The study can also include Doble EMI testing or installation of Partial Discharge (PD) sensors) and identify potential issues:

  • Loose/broken support insulators
  • Loose, corroded or damaged hardware components
  • Defective insulation and contaminated insulators
  • Stray circulating currents
  • Open PT high voltage fuses 

After the study is conducted, the collected data undergoes extensive analysis to provide AZZ a full report, inclusive of specific findings. If problems are identified, or maintenance is required, AZZ generates a mutually developed solution and outlines it within the report. Additionally, all data and analyses will be recorded within a dedicated AZZ database, taking the burden of documentation off the customers' team and allowing AZZ to provide timely maintenance interval reminders going forward. 

Many solutions require execution of necessary maintenance procedures and/or required system repairs. Whether gasket material, insulators or old hardware need replacement, cleaning be needed or upgrade installations required, AZZ is committed to working within the customer's facility’s outage schedule to get the job completed. When maintenance and repair work is concluded, the methodical process of testing and commissioning of the bus system is performed. This important final stage confirms the course of action implemented by AZZ has restored the bus duct system to optimum condition and performance. Preventative maintenance is a strategic process and not a one-time occurrence, simple visual inspection, or reactionary measure. With the help of AZZ, a proper maintenance program can be executed to ensure systems are running safely and when potential issues are discovered, a timely solution is enacted to avoid prolonged downtime. 

To learn more about AZZ’s maintenance programs and how they can help save your site prevent costly downtime events visit