Due to the complex nature of their equipment we see a lot of bio pharma and advanced manufacturing sites experiencing increased failure rates of their sensitive equipment. These failures are caused by the injection of harmonics, which can adversely affect machines, motors and power electronics. On modern, mission critical sites, downtime can be a very expensive proposition.

First Step to Mitigation

In a situation like this our first port of call is to install power quality monitoring devices which allows us to gain a better understanding of the severity and nature of the harmonic problem. In a recent case, after analysing the data gathered by the power quality monitoring system we were able to determine that at the main distribution boards of the bio pharma site the harmonic voltages breached the IEC 61000-2-4 standard, which was causing their equipment to fail.

Proposed Solution

With our many years of experience we were able to design, install and commission an active harmonic mitigation solution to alleviate these problems for our client. Active Filters, although more expensive than passive filters, actively monitor the system and filter the current waveform by injecting inverse currents to cancel out the undesired harmonic components.

For this particular site we felt a modular active filter was best to allow for further expansion so we chose Schaffner’s Ecosine solution. This solution allows for the active mastering of one unit by another. For twin transformer switchboards this ensures that even when a single transformer is down the full power of both active harmonic filters at each side is available to compensate the total load.

Our final solution consisted of 8 active harmonic filters with unit size ranging from 180 A to 300 A connected at each main distribution board. We were able to integrate these units into the site’s power monitoring system using Modbus giving us total control of the units with alerts, live monitoring, and reporting of their performance.

Having this visibility and control of the filters is very beneficial, particularly now, as it allows our team to work remotely and monitor system operation via cyber secured power monitoring system displays. Clients are reassured be having such visibility on their electrical system performance.

The Result

Following the introduction of these filters our client experienced a significant reduction of the harmonics being observed. This in turn decreased the voltage harmonics throughout the site bringing them to within the IEC 61000-2-4 standard limits. Overall it has become a more reliable site and a major step in reducing the failure rate of sensitive equipment.  

If your site is experiencing equipment failure, or a similar injection of harmonics, speak to one of our engineers today.

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