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Automating Malaysian Energy

Netcontrol provides a retrofit Distribution Automation solution to the existing Gebeng substation in Juantan, Malaysia.

The project entailed the supply of a complete subsation automation retrofit solution to the exisitng Gebeng Substation giving the TNB Control Centre in Kuala Lumper the capability to remotely monitor and control the electrical supply to factories in the industrial park in the city of Kuantan on the East Coast of peninsula Malaysia.

Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB) the national electrical utility of Malaysia has an ongoing project to improve the reliability of the Distribution Network throughout Malaysia. As customers demand an increasingly higher quality of power distribution along with the rapid development of the information society TNB has embarked on a strategy of expanding the automation of their distribution network operations.


However many of the existing substations are equipped with switchgear that is not fitted with a motorised mechanism therefore preventing the remote control of the switches from their Regional Distribution Management Control Systems.

Automation Retrofitting Expertise
TNB turned to Netcontrol as experts in Distribution Automation systems to provide a suitable distribution automation system for the existing three Tamco (Brush) OLU switches installed in the Gebeng substation. The brief for the system required was to provide an upgrade solution which would allow remote control of the existing switches which would be quick and easy to install and commission thus limiting the outage time of the substation to a minimum. The equipment was also required to be as unobtrusive as possible and not restrict access to the equipment in the substation which was not designed for automation, as well as ensuring that the addition of the actuators did not reduce the overall integrity of the existing switchgear in any way.

Asset Life Extension
Using Netcontrol retrofit solutions meant that TNB did not have to replace their existing switchgear in order to bring the benefits of distribution automation to their infrastructure. The solution allows utilities to maximise their capital investments and means that it is possible to extend the asset life of their equipment. This brings the same customer benefits for a reduced capital outlay and is an added benefit since switchgear replacement is often difficult to manage and implement.

Speed of Installations
The development of the retrofit actuator solution was carried out in the Netcontrol factory on an identical switch to ensure that all the potential pitfalls could be eliminated prior to installation on site.   This resulted in a solution being developed which allowed the actuators to be installed on site, on the switch, with no drilling or cutting of the switch itself, and all in under an hour.

The retrofitted switch actuator is equipped for detection of the ON and OFF positions of the switch, as well as reporting whether the EARTH switch has been selected for manual operation. In the event that the earth switch is selected the controller prevents the operation of the Main Switch via an electronic interlock.

Switch Controller
Control and monitoring of the three switches is provided by the NMS100 switch controller unit, which is mounted on the wall adjacent to the switches. The NMS100 provides LOCAL and REMOTE control of the switches.  

LOCAL control is provided with ON and OFF buttons located on the front panel of the NMS100 unit which also provides LED status indication of the main switches, earth switch selection as well as other system alarms.

REMOTE control is provided with the in-built RTU functionality communicating using the IEC60870-5-101 protocol via a GPRS modem located in the NMS100 cabinet, back to the TNB DCC at Bangsar in Kuala Lumpur.

Battery Backup
The NMS100 switch controller has a built in battery charger, battery conditioner and battery test function to ensure optimum life of the batteries, as well as careful monitoring of the health of the batteries.  In the event that the condition of the battery deteriorates to a poor condition, the system will automatically report back to the Control Centre that there is a problem, allowing the battery to be replaced prior to failure. Battery faults are the major cause of automation system failures.

The NMS100 system allows a minimum of ten operations to be carried out by the switches under mains power failure conditions.

The flexible design of the NMS100 switch controller allows the same controller to be used for all the different types of switch types that exist in the TNB distribution network, whether they have existing motor mechanisms or not. Netcontrol has already developed retrofit actuator solutions for a number of existing switch types and continues to add solutions for different switches as required.