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Types of electrotechnical laboratories

10 years ago everything was clear about electrotechnical laboratories in Russia: there were cable laboratories also called ETL-10, there were station or testing laboratories also called ETL-35, and there were combined or universal laboratories also called ETL-35K. As a rule they were assembled on heavy-duty military GAZ-66 or heavier vehicles. Performance capabilities of domestic laboratories produced by various manufacturers were very close. In case of faults laboratories were repaired using own resources. German laboratories of the same three types were higher performance capabilities though they were considerably more expensive and it was not possible to repair them by own forces.

Everything has been changed for the last 10 years. First, cross-linked polyethylene appeared. But it is not so widely used that every cable laboratory requires equipment to work with it. Second, burn-free cable damage localization methods are used in addition to traditional damage detection methods. Third, the same laboratory option can be realized more simple, worse and cheaper, or can be realized more complicate, efficiently, but also more expensive. Fourth, now it is possible to construct different laboratories for those network companies in which laboratory executes 5-7 and more visits per shift, and for those in which laboratory is used 1-2 times a week or even less. Laboratories, especially cable ones, are considerably varies in terms of productivity. These differences are caused not so much by searching capabilities as by control and connecting systems. Fifth, new equipment can be assembled on light-duty vehicles such as Gazel or other minibuses, which was essential for in-town operation. Finally, operating organizations themselves are very different in terms of money they are ready to pay for the new laboratory. And such difference is not only about Gazprom and Lukoil, but also about ordinary network enterprises and wiring companies.

As a result, new types of electrotechnical laboratories and new requirements were developed.

Nowadays we can speak of laboratories intended for large and middle town operation as of separate class.

  • As a rule, it is purely cable laboratory. It is almost always equipped with XLPE cable operation instruments, or it can be additionally equipped with these instruments.

  • The laboratory should be high-efficient one. At present it is provided by concurrent three cable cores connection, maximum possible control automation, fine ergonomics, and equipment self-testing to reduce downtime in case of failure.

  • The laboratory should detect all damages even the most complicate ones, and at that it should not make cable line surcharge. The most modern and efficient equipment should be used for all damage detection methods. The methods themselves should provide mutual check of results. These methods should have gentle, not vandal influence on cable.

  • It makes sense to assembly such laboratory on minibus: not only Gazel, but also Volkswagen-Crafter, Mercedes-Benz –Sprinter, Ford-Transit, Fiat-Ducatto, and other.

  • It is desirable to power such laboratory by autonomous limited-power source located in minibus chassis.

  • Clearly the laboratory which meets these requirements will be rather expensive.

    LK-10+ and LK-10 SPE type laboratories meet these requirements.

Quite different requirements are made to electrotechnical laboratories that maintain cable networks in suburban areas and small towns, and power distribution networks, including networks in rural area (these facilities are typical for most regional power distribution companies).

  • Combined laboratories are mostly used. Though it is more practical to use separate cable and substation laboratories in large-scale network facilities of this type. Combined and cable laboratories can be equipped with XLPE cable maintenance devices if needed.

  • Performance requirements to these laboratories are not considerably lower that requirements to town laboratories. Thus, it should be also possible to provide concurrent three cable cores connection, maximum possible control automation, fine ergonomics, and equipment self-testing to reduce downtime in case of failure.

  • In addition to high cable maintenance requirements (that are almost similar to town laboratory requirements), such laboratory should allow to carry out substation testing and measurements using traditional and convenient customer’s equipment.

  • Combined laboratory should be mounted on medium-duty truck (GAZ-33081 and higher level). This requirement is mainly caused by required access to distant rural and suburban substation. Cable-only or substation-only laboratories can be mounted on minibus chassis if road network allows it.

  • Full-featured supply by autonomous electric power stations is a primary condition for such laboratories. Laboratory arrangement in the shelter of medium-duty or heavy-duty track allows to use higher power station.

  • List of equipment and price of the laboratory considerably varies depending on tasks that should be solved by means of the laboratory.

These requirements are oriented on LKP-10/35 combined laboratories, LP-35 substation laboratories, and LK-10+ cable laboratories.

Performance capabilities of laboratories for small network facilities (small towns, industrial and transport companies) are not so critical, thus more simple and cheap solutions can be offered.

  • Cable and sometimes combined laboratories are required by such network facilities.

  • The laboratory is used 1-2 times a week and even less. Thus complicated and expensive control and connecting system is not required. It can be limited to one cable core connection and manual working mode switching.

  • The laboratory should allow to look for almost all cable damages, and it should have wide range of functions, but such laboratory would use complicated damage efficient detection equipment very rarely. Thus simple and inexpensive, but less efficient options are allowed.

  • Gazel is the main chassis for these laboratories, even combined ones. The laboratory could be also mounted on more heavy and cross-country vehicle.

  • The laboratory should be supplied from autonomous limited-power source located under Gazel chassis.

  • Such laboratory should be at least on and a half or two times cheaper than town and large-scale combined laboratories.

VEL-10 and VEL-10/35 laboratories meet these requirements.

Everything has been changed for the last 10 years. New types of electrotechnical laboratories and new requirements were developed.

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