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Inspecting Power Distribution Busbars

Busbars are an integral part of electrical systems in small or large-scale industrial applications. Since busbars are responsible for power distribution, their quality is important in ensuring proper inflow and outflow of electricity. Quality in a busbar implies that it should be free of flaws so it can operate at its full potential. 

In all the industrial applications that the power distribution busbars are used, their inspection can be carried out with the help of nondestructive testing (NDT) technology. Especially eddy current testing (ECT) has been proven efficient in testing busbars of different materials, shapes, and sizes. Here we discuss it further. 

What Are Power Distribution Busbars?  

Busbars are used in power distribution systems to ensure proper flow of current in high-voltage applications. Often made up of metals, busbars can be found in various shapes (i.e., solid bars, flat metallic strips, or rods) and size that the technician can select depending on the maximum electric current requirement for the application. 

Power distribution busbars are usually found enclosed within switchgear, panel boards, or busway enclosures. It acts as a junction where all the incoming electric current is collected before it is distributed. Busbars allow different circuits to branch off anywhere along the busway rather than the traditional way of branching from the single main switch location. 

Each power distribution busbar has its individual isolator and circuit breaker, which trips when a wiring fault is detected. This can not only prevent possible damage to the main switch, but also makes it easy to disconnect and replace the faulty busbar. 

This functionality has made the power distribution busbar system a popular alternative to the electrical wiring system in most small and large-scale industrial applications. Some other advantages include:

  • Rapid installation process
  • Easy addition or removal of busbars
  • Easy maintenance with no downtime
  • Cost-efficiency

These benefits have been leveraged by electrical components in many industries for applications such as:

Defect Development in Busbars

With the expanding use of power distribution busbars, it is important to understand how potential flaws may develop in busbars and how they can be identified. The initial possibility of defect arises during the manufacturing process of busbars, where processes like stamping or machining can cause the metal to crack. Similarly, busbars can experience high stress and temperature deviations in high voltage operations, leading to fatigue cracking. 

These flaws in busbars can be identified with the help of NDT. For small-scale industrial equipment and large-scale power generation applications, NDT can ensure that busbars are defect-free so that problems like arching and shorts in the power transmission system can be avoided. 

Nondestructive Testing Power Distribution Busbars

NDT inspection of the power distribution busbar requires assessment of complex geometries, contoured surfaces, and bends as well as inspection through non-conductive coatings.  Eddy Current Array (ECA) has proven to be an effective NDT method capable of providing reliable results for such requirements. 

The multi-coil arrangement of the ECA probes provides versatility in inspection, by which it can:

  • Improve the inspection speed and provide large surface area coverage.
  • Improve scanning sensitivity and accuracy for accurate defect sizing. 
  • Conform to the changing contours to facilitate complete coverage (along bends in busbars)

The flaws such as surface and near-surface cracks can be easily identified with ECA solutions which can inspect the component in a single pass, minimizing downtime and improving cost-efficiency in all power distribution applications. 

Zetec’s NDT solutions, such as Surf-X Eddy Current Array probe and MIZ-21C, provide inspectors the ability to flexibly scan and display the data to improve the probability of defect detection. For the effective operation of your power distribution application, Zetec’s NDT solutions can provide accuracy and precision in inspection to ensure the quality of the busbars.

Zetec’s advanced NDT solutions can assist you in the efficient inspection of power distribution busbar, whether for small-scale industrial equipment or large-scale power generation application. Contact Zetec today to create your custom power busbar inspection solution.