A little window makes a big difference

Sometimes solving an everyday problem means seeing things in new way.

When you flip a light switch in your home and see a flicker of a spark, it’s a sign electricity is flowing. Imagine your job is working on electrical lines every day with no clear confirmation the system is de-energized? When life is literally on the line, a little window makes a big difference.

Innovation at-a-glance

Creating a solution in the form of a simple window represents a safety innovation that wasn’t so simple.

Since no standard existed, the ABB Installation Products Elastimold® engineering team started from scratch to design the Tru-Break™ switchgear module, a new visual component to act like a viewfinder and access window. Safety was central, with careful consideration given to flexibility and reliability. Recognizing this additional element would mean a fundamental shift for crews, key questions the team needed to address included: How will the product operate? How will the user validate? How will it fit with existing equipment?

Integration with existing systems was a key criteria. Many electrical utilities have older transformers that are no longer commercially available. Designed to be live-front, many of these older models are equipped with oil-immersed disconnects (OIDs) that may have started to leak hazardous transformer oil. The failure of one of these older OID transformers creates potential for customer outages and safety risks for utility crews working to repair them. The team was able to retrofit OID transformers to accept the Elastimold Tru-Break module, a visible-open device. Incorporating the Elastimold Tru-Break module enables the crew to have an isolation point that helps provide safety and ease of grounding on either side of the circuit.

Foundational considerations in the module’s design included addressing installation and operations, current system compatibility, as well as ensuring the solution could meet evolving technical requirements and applications. Building from the beginning, the Tru-Break switchgear module took nearly five years to bring to market and involved numerous design iterations, extensive testing and field analysis at all stages.

The solution to these functional and operational needs resulted in the Tru-Break™ switchgear module for Elastimold® solid-dielectric molded vacuum switches, interrupters and switchgear that makes a big difference for linemen who can now switch the handle to the open position and confirm through a little window that the system is de-energized. The module also offers the following benefits:

  • Maximum safety – Eliminates guesswork with clear visual verification of circuit isolation and a positive-latching handle to confirm the unit is in fully open or fully closed position.
  • Modular – Configured to adapt to existing base and installation and provides plug and play retrofit options. The compact size minimizes impact to switchgear footprint and it is non-position sensitive, so it can be installed in any orientation.
  • Maintenance-free – Rated and tested for performance in the harshest environments, ABB’s Tru-Break switchgear module is considered maintenance-free because it contains no oil or gas to monitor or maintain.

Standard-setting Safety and a Sustainable Solution

Sometimes solving an everyday problem means seeing things in new way. A driving factor for our ABB Installation Products team in designing the Tru-Break switchgear module and recloser was the belief that no one should have to guess whether it’s safe to do their job.

And as our energy management partners shift toward new, cleaner technology and risk mitigation approaches, they require solutions to optimize existing equipment, meet usage and leakage regulatory requirements, and accommodate future capacity. The Tru-Break switchgear module offers the safety of visually verifying the isolating gap in the conducting path and is a sustainable option in the following ways:

  • No oils or gases to monitor, maintain or dispose.
  • Uses a proprietary EPDM rubber formulation that is a green solution and field proven for over 50 years on a solid-dielectric platform.
  • Emits no greenhouse gases, unlike SF6.
  • Uses silicone diaphragm and air as an insulating medium.

Click the links below to learn more about ABB’s Elastimold Tru-Break switchgear module as an option on all Elastimold switchgear, pad-mount and vault-mount products.

Tru-Break Switchgear Module Product Page

Tru-Break™ Switchgear Module Video

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About the author

Angel Martinez

Angel has more than 18 years of experience in the energy industry and is a frequent event speaker and contributor. He joined ABB Installation Products Division in 2013 and has worked in various market development and sales roles for brands such as Elastimold®, Joslyn®, Homac® and Blackburn®. Most recently, Angel served as product manager for ABB’s Medium Voltage Apparatus, following product management leadership positions in the US and LATAM and working as product marketing director in Mexico. Angel is a Mechanical & Electrical engineer from Tecnologico de Monterrey and holds an MBA from IPADE Business School in Mexico.
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