Standing Guard and Powering Uptime
Apr 27, 2016
Ruth Gratzke

Introducing a breaker built for the digital industrial era.

Our industrial customers operate in demanding environments where operational reliability and safety are non-negotiable. Take an offshore oil rig in the North Sea as an example. Widely regarded as one of the most challenging working environments on the planet, crews and equipment must withstand highly variable, and often inhospitable, conditions. Located hundreds of miles from the nearest shores, these rigs must contend with crashing waves up to 10 meters tall, whipping wind and corrosive salt spray. At these uniquely dangerous and isolated locations, unplanned downtime can wreak havoc on rig operations, impacting not only profits but also jeopardizing crew safety.

Unplanned downtime threatens all industrial operations. A single drill ship, for example, loses an average of $12 million a year due to non-productive time. An electrical arc flash event can cost an oil refinery as up as $15 million per incident. In the mining industry, operators are susceptible to $180,000 in lost production per unplanned downtime incident. This includes lost production time accumulating in $3,000 an hour per incident, and 60 hours of downtime per incident.

One way GE is helping customers decrease unplanned downtime and therefore improve uptime is by developing intelligent machines to enable predictive maintenance. This refers to moving from calendar to condition or schedule-based (i.e. predictive) review and repair. The benefits of shifting to a predictive maintenance program are significant. In fact, research from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Federal Energy Management Program shows the by leveraging data to make better informed maintenance decisions, customers can…

·       Increase production by 25%

·       Reduce maintenance cost by 30%

·       Reduce downtime by 45%

·       Reduce breakdowns by as much as 75%.

This week at Hannover Messe, the world’s leading trade fair for industrial technology, GE unveiled GuardEon, a new molded case circuit breaker designed to improve productivity and uptime.  

In a perfect world, a circuit breaker would never have to trip or respond to an electrical problem. In the real world, however, this often is not the case. Many circuit breakers sit dormant for long stretches of time without tripping, but must remain capable of switching off the power in milliseconds if a damaging electrical event occurs. Failure to do so would result in damage to valuable equipment downstream from the fault. To ensure the breaker will function properly if needed, testing is absolutely crucial. Testing and maintenance, however, can result in downtime that many heavy industrial and commercial applications cannot afford. The ability to perform predictive maintenance can help alleviate this downtime and ensure the breaker is ready to go if an event occurs.

That’s why GE designed GuardEon with built-in intelligence that enables predictive maintenance.

Customers can use GuardEon to test and compare current breaker operations to an original manufactured set point and based on changes, gauge the need for maintenance or repair. This testing can be done while directly in front of the breaker or remotely via a SCADA/Mod Bus system.

Over time, the contacts on breakers typically experience erosion which can lead to a reduction in electrical performance. GuardEon addresses contact wear through an algorithm that tracks contact erosion and empowers customers to monitor the “health” of the contacts without having to de-energize the entire electrical system.  This insight enables scheduled replacement in advance of a problem versus risking unplanned downtime.  Also, event logs in the platform capture and record all the events the breaker experiences. These logs can be extracted, reviewed and used to troubleshoot or detect irregularities in an electrical system.

With all of this data readily available, customers can make better-informed decisions about maintenance, ultimately safeguarding and powering uptime.

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Ruth Gratzke

Ruth Gratzke is the Global Circuit Breaker Product Line Leader for GE’s Industrial Solutions business. In this role Ruth is responsible for delivering a streamlined, differentiated product portfolio aligned to contemporary customer needs.

Ruth brings nearly 20 years of industry experience with the global, multinational conglomerate Siemens. She began her career as a technical project manager in Germany. Moving to the U.S. in 1999, Ruth has since progressed through a variety of professional roles in systems engineering, business and market development, marketing and general management. She has a demonstrated record of growing product lines with industrial customers, building high performing teams and delivering on business objectives.

Bilingual in German and English, Ruth graduated from Friedrich Alexander Universitat (FAU), Erlangen, Germany, as "Diplom Ingenieur Elektrotechnik" (electrical master’s degree equivalent). She resides in Atlanta, Georgia.