2016 in ITL

2016 has definitely been a year full of changes and events all around the World. There were actually so many it would take quite a while to list them all. The two obvious ones are the new American President and UK leaving the EU.  Brexit was the one which has influenced us the most and will probably even more in the future. We will talk about that in one of our future posts so stay tuned.

But what changes happened on our end in 2016? As every year, we have focused on improving our products and services for our customers. We are very well known in the market for our Low Voltage range of products but in the last couple of years there has been a spike in demand for our Medium Voltage units. To meet this increase, we have acted and invested in our Vacuum resin casting plant. There was a lot to learn and still is but the equipment is up and running.

2016 is also the birth-year of our Test Reports Repository, or TRR. Below you can read about why we did it, what feedback we got from our customers and why some of us have grey hair.

Resin casting Plant

The decision to invest into new resin casting plant was actually made at the end of 2015. For couple of years we have experienced a continuous increase in demand for ITL Medium Voltage products and the new plant was a logical step. It makes our life a bit easier, our products better and allows us to better control the quality of the finished product. There was a lot of research done by our engineers, we had to move things around on our production floor and it took us quite the while to find the product to suit our needs. But at the end we have opted for state-of-the-art German quality and as far as we can tell it was the right call. Bottom line, our resin casting capabilities drastically improved.

The TRR rises

Every single unit that is manufactured in our East Kilbride factory is tested on our premises (and like as a carpenter measure twice & cut once, we randomly test twice) before despatch. This way we ensure that every CT and VT coming out of our factory floor is fully compliant with required international standard. The outcome of the test is a Routine Test Report. Historically, we were sending paper copies with the goods.  Then, with the coming of electronic age we have started sending them in PDF format via e-mail. There is a slight shortcoming though. The buyer who receives the Report is not the person who actually needs it. It is the Manager spearheading the project or, QA Dept. or in some cases the actual commissioning team at site who needs to see the results. With all these touch points with a customer, we decided to simplify and improve the process by providing an online Test Report Repository (or TRR as we call it here) idea was born. 

Test Report Repository

Basically, the idea is to have a dedicated space which customers can access online and simply download the document without having to phone in or e-mail us. Please, don’t get us wrong, we love to talk to you. But we have customers all over the world and sometimes we might not be here to pick up the phone or e-mails can get lost. And let’s be honest, it saves time for everybody and we all know time is a precious commodity.

Great idea. But the road to make it happen was a difficult one. Our marketing guy Jerry sure has something to say.

Jerry – “It surely was a challenge. First, we had to rebuild our sites from scratch in-house as it gives us a more flexibility and control in what we want to do and the TRR was one of the major factors to go for it. There were so many things to consider. Security of the reports, login process, search criteria, actual documents storage, you name it. Both I and Paul have put a lot of time and effort into developing the platform and rolled out the beta version to a couple of customers and it got quite a bit of traction. Now we are up and running, sure, however as with any software platform there are still tweaks to be made but the main thing for us now is to educate our customers and roll it out on a large scale.”

ITL Resin casting plant

Resin cast plant

ITL Reaches 30,000!

Latest Current Transformer Solution

ITL 30000/1A current transformer

30000/1A Current Transformer from ITL

When testing current transformers it is always best to inject the appropriate rated primary current to ensure that the product truly can meet service conditions. For lower ratio transformers, there is a trend by customers for traditional transformer testing to be replaced by a CT Analyser which injects voltage and using some fancy algorithms provides test data to show compliance. Whilst helpful on the reporting side and field validation, ITL have elected not to use a CT Analyser for primary testing. Opting to continue traditional testing methods for high ratio current transformers by direct current injection to prove compliance and incorporating hybrid reporting format from a CT analyser.

Led by ITL’s Technical Director Greig McFarlane, the company has invested heavily in upgrading its High Current Test Dept. which allows current transformers to be tested to 30,000 Amps with a secondary ratio of 1 Amp. In keeping with our philosophy of exceed customers expectations of giving exactly what the customer asks for, these secondary ratios can be customised should this be necessary.

With such high ratio transformers, many of ITL’s competitors have chosen to loop multiple cable turns through the primary to achieve high current accuracy resolution and while this may be an acceptable method of testing for other organisations, it is not for ITL. This procedure can have the effect of introducing localised saturation which can influence test results and not reflect true operational performance. Greig said “especially when providing accuracy results at very high levels you want to ensure that any downstream risk is minimised.”

“By using state of the art high accuracy test bridges ensures that we continue surpass our customers’ expectations for accurate, reliable and long service transformers.”

As always, we stand ready to meet our customers’ ever demanding needs for CT /VT measurement & protection solutions, with enthusiasm and look forward to helping you soon.

Call us on +44 1355 236 057, or email sales@itl-uk.com

ITL – TransformingYourWorld.net

Our test reports repository

Making things easier for everyone!

Screenshot 2016-08-25 09.02.33

ITL Test Certificate Example

We are always striving to make our customers’ life as easy as possible. ITL have always been known as the "go to CT/VT guys" but also for a great customer service. Fast responses, knowledge, quick orders, you name it (as in life we have stumbled in our past but more importantly we learn from our mistakes to prevent recurrance). However, our other great asset is efficiency. And that is where Test Reports Repository comes in.

Test Reports, or Test Certificates, are very important part of our products. It may seem they are just a supporting document but they clearly state that our CTs and VTs meet international requirements which is an invaluable information for a buyer and particularly for an engineer.

Traditionally, we supply paper copies or electronic copies of test reports. Sometimes we have buyers, engineers etc. e-mailing/ phoning us asking for duplicate test reports for a particular unit (I'm sure you can relate to this scenario). Emails are not always perfect and get lost, sent to junk or just plain deleted in error and don’t get to the intended recipient for what ever reason. We are sure you know it can get messy. So we created TRR. It is an easy way you can access your current transformer or voltage transformer test report by just logging in and doing quick search. 

It makes life easier for both us and our customer. And that is what ITL is about.

Below you can see a short video of how it works. Or you can have a quick test run here. (Username: C110011; Password: TestCertsTest)

Want to sign up? Take a look here! 

Keep a lookout for our developments.

ITL – one of the Key Players on Transformers market

The instrument transformers market is always changing. The next four years look bright for the industry. According to this analysis the market will grow at a CAGR of 7.81% during the period 2016-2020. This is obviously great news for all the players in the industry. But first, let’s take a look at why.

Modernisation of the Grid

_L6H3487

One of ITL Split core units!

One of the main reasons for this growth is investments in the grids. There is an increased demand for new transformers as governments are funding schemes to improve power transmission and distribution. A great example is India with their APDRP scheme (Accelerated Power Development and Reforms Programme). The trend is to find more effective and reliable solutions for grids to minimise waste of energy during long range transmission and avoid outages as much as possible.

Transformers play a significant role to support this movement. We understand that and focus on providing the perfect product for every project. Our units are well known in the industry for their longevity (see image below) and our engineers have the knowledge to solve almost any obstacles. That is why we are the “go to” guys when an unusual solution is needed. Sometimes it tends to go like this: “I need the CT to do this and it needs to fit here, make it happen”. Luckily, custom transformers are our specialty and words like "Magicians" & "Wizards" are regularly referred to our talented transformer design & manufacturing teams.

IMG_0672

More than 20 years old. A bit weathered but still going strong!

All these points plus our dedication to provide the best service to our customers means we have been listed as one of the key players in the Transformers industry by RnR Market Research last month. You can read all about it here. It is obviously great to receive a recognition like this as it is a reflection on the attitude of our whole team. 

 

You’ve been Screwed !

Headline caught your attention? Don't worry, we just wanted to grab you and tell you about a recent, project, so please read on. ITL has just completed another successful G59 commissioning project, this time for the Achranich Bridge Hydro Scheme, Ardornish Estate, Morvern.
g59_ardornish
 
 Our highly qualified engineers, predominately work on Wind Turbine & Photo Voltaic projects, the Archimedean Screw technology used in renewable energy generation is a first for us.
 
The Archimedean screw hydro turbine is a relative newcomer to the small-scale hydro world having only arrived on the scene over the last ten years. However, they have been around for many decades as pumps where tens-of-thousands have been installed worldwide, particularly in sewage treatment works. The same manufacturers that dominate the pump market are now the main suppliers into the hydro-power market as well.
 
As the name suggests, Archimedes is widely acknowledged as the inventor of the screw back in 250 BC, though the credit has been wrongly attributed because they were actually in use in Egypt many years before then. Historically they were used in irrigation to lift water to a higher level and were generally powered by oxen, or even humans on smaller versions. The basic principle of an Archimedean screw pump is shown in the diagram above. Basic-layout-of-an-Archimedean-screw-pumpIf the handle at the top was turned in an anti-clockwise direction it would draw the water up from the lower level to the top.
When used as a hydro turbine the principle is the same but acts in reverse. The water enters the screw at the top and the weight of the water pushes on the helical flights, allowing the water to fall to the lower level and causing the screw to rotate. This rotational energy can then be extracted by an electrical generator connected to the main shaft of the screw.
Archimedean screws for hydro-power are used on low head/high flow sites. They can work efficiently on heads as low as 1 metre, though are not generally used on heads less than 1.5 m (more for economic reasons than technical ones). Single screws can work on heads up to 8 metres, but above this multiple screws are generally used, though in many cases for
heads above 8 metres there may be more appropriate turbines available with much smaller footprints.

The maximum flow rate through an Archimedean screw is determined by the screw diameter. The smallest screws are just 1 metre diameter and can pass 250 litres/second, then they increase in 250 mm steps all of the way up to 5 metres in diameter with a maximum flow rate of around 14.5 m3/s. The 5 metre maximum is really based on practical delivery restrictions, and in many cases 3 metres is the maximum diameter that can be delivered to a site. If there is more flow available, multiple screws can be installed in parallel.

In terms of power output, the very smallest Archimedean screws can produce as little as 5 kW, and the largest 500 kW.

The main parts of an Archimedean screw used as a hydro generator are shown below. The actual screw is below the upper bearing. The helical screw or ‘flights’ are made from rolled flat steel plate that is then welded to a central steel core. Most Archimedean screws have three flights, or three separate helices winding around the central core.

Main-parts-at-the-top-end-of-an-Archimedean-screw-hydro-generator

Archimedean screws typically rotate at around 26 rpm, so the top of the screw connects to a gearbox to increase the rotational speed to between 750 and 1500 rpm to make it compatible with standard generators. Even though they rotate relatively slowly Archimedean screws can splash water around, though this is reduced significantly by the use of a splash guard shown running down the left-hand side of the screw as shown below.

Archimedean-screw-body

ITL continues to work with contractors throughout the UK, commissioning & testing G59 as well as traditional switchgear Protection Relays from leading manufactures Schneider Electric, ABB, Siemens, CEE.

FP-g59 relay testing and commissioning

 

 

 

 

 

 

Article Source: Renewables First (click to read full article)

Survey results 2015

ITL is a very customer oriented company. We always strive to align our goals with our clients’ own and to offer the best product and support. To be able to do exactly that, we need to know what our customers want, what they like, don’t like, and figure out how to further improve ourselves.

So we rolled out a customer survey in January.

Knowing that online surveys are vastly unpopular we did not expect a lot of participation. Imagine how surprised we were that in just three days after sending it out we used up all 100 responses which are allowed by SurveyMonkey (yep, we used the free version, mistake on our part). However, even the 100 responses gave us some insight and showed us where we should improve.

As for every manufacturer, the quality of our products is of a great importance for us. We asked our customers how our transformers do compared to our competition. The results you can see below are a credit to our talented team of designers, the experience and knowledge we have in the field, and the aim to provide the perfect product for every project. The results are quite a bit in our favour, however we do not want to lie on our laurels and we are still improving in any way we can, be it a new material, process, or service to complement our CTs and VTs.

Everyone who works or worked in our industry knows that, unfortunately, not everything always goes as smooth as planned. It is necessary to be able to react quickly and resolve any issues asap (yep, time is money). We added online chat to our websites which is another channel for our customers to get in touch with us. According to the survey, we usually provide great support and help (our intent is to change the word usually to always). And this is what we want to do. Obviously, priority is to avoid these situations completely, however, when something goes awry we must go out of our ways and do everything we can to make situation as easy as it can get.  The professional and quick help, the willingness to go the extra mile. Those are the factors that make our customers happy and encourage them to stay with us.

And lastly, we asked our customers to give us the constructive criticism. What is the one change that would improve our products the most? Well, the responses were fairly straight forward. Shorten your lead time! Over 50% of respondents asked us to deliver our products quicker. We got the message and already took measures to improve our processes. With help from SMAS (Scottish Advisory Manufacturing Service) we embraced Lean Manufacturing and aim to shorten our lead times by at least 1 week.

The survey was very enlightening for us and we would like to thank everyone who took part in it. It is important to us that our customers stay informed of our innovations and the easiest way is through social media, so if you want to stay in the loop, please follow (or like) us on one of our pages.

ITL to the Rescue!

As we mentioned many times before, sometimes it is necessary to choose great quality, reliable product and make the smart investment.

As it happens, one of our new customers has seen the error of his ways when dealing with inferior quality products. ITL has been approached to replace a set of current transformers for a Hydro Electric project that is experiencing continued problems with their existing current transformers (see image above).

Our highly skilled engineers used their knowledge and experience, reviewed the problem and have offered an ITL solution. Our robust multi-core resin encapsulated current transformer complete with IP65 terminal box suitable for outdoor use, mounted on 120x5mm resin coated copper bar will definitely do the trick for the customer.

The Hydro Electric project is crucial for infrastructure and we understood the solution has to be swift. So we added significantly compressed lead time to the equation. The ability to deliver great results in a swift manner shows why our customers value ITL’s bespoke engineering & Scottish innovation.

Thinking ahead and educating the next generation

The time is relentlessly going forward and it is necessary for any successful business to think ahead. Otherwise you can find yourself in a seriously difficult position, as many utility companies can tell (link). We certainly want to avoid the black hole of generation skill gap in the future. So we believe in giving a chance to young, talented people who are eager to show what they are capable of. It can be a perilous task sometimes, for sure. It takes a lot of time, effort, money, and in some cases, patience. In the long run however, this is the best investment any company can make for the future.

As ITL was growing through the years we experienced an increasing number of enquiries coming our way and to ensure the same level of customer service we took a young technical designer on board. Kevin is with us for more than two years now, learning from our senior designers, getting experience in the field and growing with the business.

We continue moving forward and want to grow our business which means looking for new opportunities, different approaches and possible new markets. With help of Scotgrad we found an International Marketing Graduate to help us with market research and our online presence among other things.

It is a part of business to pass the experience and knowledge onto the next generation and develop young people in ways that are beneficial for both future business and the career of the individual. We make sure we offer great opportunities in a growing company operating in always evolving industry.