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Research released by MIDEL, a provider of ester-based transformer fluids, reveals the real and significant threat posed when a transformer fails, and a high level of concern about its impact on business continuity. The research entitled the ‘MIDEL Transformer Risk Report’ reveals that six in ten industry professionals who took part in the survey had experienced transformer failure in the last five years, while five in ten said transformer failure would significantly impact or halt their businesses’ operations.

Barry Menzies, Managing Director Global of MIDEL, said: 

“Transformers are critical components of our electricity infrastructure, but the impact and extent of transformer failure is not widely documented. The MIDEL Transformer Risk Report shines a light on transformer failure and the findings are clear: it has a significant and prolonged impact on businesses. An interruption to business operations can be very expensive, demonstrate poor corporate social responsibility and impact business continuity.

“The good news is that many of the causes of transformer failure are largely within the operators’ control. It’s relatively straightforward to replace old equipment and components and upgrade maintenance regimes; however, the survey suggests a level of concern that indicates industry needs to think more strategically about asset management and dedicate more resources to mitigating the risk of failure.”

The survey, which attracted responses from original equipment manufacturers, transmission and distribution operators, and industry consultants aimed to enhance understanding of the failure of transformers; a crucial but often overlooked part of electricity infrastructure. The resulting report assesses the impact, levels of concern and general industry attitudes towards transformer failure.

Transformer failure a business continuity concern

The level of worry about the threat of transformer failure is high among businesses with 80 percent of respondents expressing their concern. Although the risk to staff and the public was naturally a key concern for respondents, the survey also revealed that business continuity was a top priority.

Almost all respondents recognised the implications of transformer failure on business continuity and loss of revenue by identifying it as a key factor to assess the risk level of. Supporting this finding, safeguarding business continuity appears as one of the top three drivers for improving transformer performance.

The results indicate that the impact of transformer failure on business continuity is not to be taken lightly. When asked what impact a transformer failure would have on their business, half of respondents said a failure would either significantly impact (41 percent) or halt operations on their site entirely (9 percent).

Moreover, results indicate that many businesses’ operations would be hugely disrupted in the event of a failure. Notably 71 percent of respondents indicated it would take in excess of three days to reinstate power supply following a transformer failure, with 11 percent of respondents saying it could take six months or more.

The importance of operations and maintenance regimes

The quality of equipment and components is considered as a top option for reducing transformer risk by 87 percent of respondents, followed by maintenance schedules (76 percent) indicating the importance of considering transformer failure from the outset.

However, in addition to safety, the maintenance of transformers, or the lack thereof, was cited as the top cause for concern by respondents (61 percent), while nearly 70 percent said driving down operating and maintenance costs is a key motivator for improving transformer performance, indicating a potential conflict when it comes to cost versus maintenance scheduling.

About the survey

The MIDEL Transformer Risk Report was launched in September 2018 and ran for three weeks. Respondents shared views from all over the world, with the majority listing their main operating areas as Europe (49 percent), followed by Africa (16 percent) and Asia (13 percent), Americas (11 percent), Middle East (7 percent) and Australia (4 percent). The survey attracted responses from transformer OEMs (original equipment manufacturers), accounting for 39 percent; industrial and commercial transformer operators (19 percent); and both transmission (8 percent) and distribution network operators (8 percent). Of those which answered ‘other’ to type of business (26 percent), organisations ranged from transmission and distribution companies, to wind power, to consultancies.

The MIDEL Transformer Risk Report can be downloaded here (PDF).

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