MacLean Power Systems (MPS) has a long history of innovation in our line of non-ceramic insulators. In 2014, we added something new and different to the line to address customer concerns about in-service maintenance of insulators. The product is a tester that allows customers to quickly and accurately assess the electrical integrity of installed insulators.
MPS has partnered with Positron Power of Quebec to be their exclusive sales channel for their line of high voltage testers in North America, as well as select international markets where we have a strong presence. Positron, a major player in the telecommunications industry with line protection equipment, invented the insulator tester with support from Hydro Quebec, one of the leading utilities in Canada. Their insulator testers slide along the length of an insulator string measuring the electric field strength and detect conductive faults that will result in reduced insulation. There are two basic models; one for disk insulator strings and the other for non-ceramic, or polymer insulators.
Some utilities are reluctant to use polymer insulators on major transmission lines, due to the concern that they could develop an internal fault that would not be visible from the outside. When there is a problem with an insulator that causes a service interruption, they need to be able to verify the electrical integrity of insulators that they want to replace. Without a tool to verify the condition of the insulators, most utilities have to schedule an outage to remove power before exchanging.
Polymer insulators are a single piece, long-rod design with a fiberglass core, silicone compound housing and metal end caps. MPS has led the industry since 1986, making design enhancements to prevent moisture from reaching the fiberglass core using improved end-fitting attachment methods and bonding of the housing to the fiberglass rod. Since 1999, we have used corrosion resistant glass fiber in our rod to prevent mechanical damage to the core in case of moisture ingress. The products we make are designed to meet customer expectations of a 50-year service life. Still, having a tester will give our customers additional confidence to apply our products.
The line of testers also includes a version for disk insulators using the same e-field measurement technology. The tester is not needed for glass insulators due to their unique material properties that allow users to visually detect any problems. For porcelain disks, the Positron tester allows them to quickly detect any internal faults such as puncture or internal cracks that are not visible. The Positron can be used in place of the older style tester that requires users to touch the probe to each insulator in the string and make a determination on the condition of the string much faster.
The inventor of the device, Charles Jean, PhD and technical director, Salvatore Carbonaro, came to our York factory on February 6 and provided technical training.