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T&D World: Simulator Takes Risk Out of Transformer Training

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ElectriCities of North Carolina uses a new portable, three-phase trainer to instruct linemen in a safe, controlled environment.

When apprentice linemen step out into the line trade, utilities may ask them to build a transformer bank. If this job is performed incorrectly and they perform one wrong connection, they could inflict thousands of dollars of damage and put their livelihood, and even their lives, at risk.

To train linemen how to do this work method the right way, ElectriCities of North Carolina invited municipal linemen from across the state of North Carolina to a one-week Transformer Training School in Maiden, North Carolina, last summer.

Rather than making the linemen sit in the classroom all day and learn from textbooks, the school introduced the students to a new way of learning. Because linemen often prefer to perform physical, hands-on work, the school not only taught the students through classroom instruction, but also gave them the opportunity to practice on a simulator and work on transformers in a training yard.

Linemen from North Carolina municipals practice three-phase transformer banking using the new Load-Trainer II Transformer Simulators.

Training Municipal Linemen

Once or twice a year, ElectriCities offers a Transformer Training School for students—alternating one in the eastern part of the state and one in the West to make it convenient for cities across North Carolina to send their employees. Since each class is limited to 25 students, a second school is sometimes added, but typically, only one course is offered per year.

These training programs are designed not only for the apprentices new to the line trade, but also for experienced journeymen linemen who need refresher training. On the first day of the training program, the students took a verbal pre-test assessment and attended a job briefing before learning about transformer theory and touring the outside facilities.

The next day, the linemen received instruction on IFD and single-phase transformer installation replacement and removal. During the week, they also learned how to size a transformer and troubleshoot an overhead transformer bank following a simulated outage.

To give its students real-world experience with transformers, ElectriCities of North Carolina introduced the new Load Trainer II Transformer Simulator from Utility Solutions at its summer session. The portable three-phase trainer takes classroom learning a step beyond basic textbooks and slide presentations by combining a physical wiring environment with a computer controlled simulation.

Operating the Simulator

The Transformer Simulator, which measures 27.5-in. wide by 19 in. tall by 3.5 in. deep, weighs 16 pounds. It also includes color-coded patch cords and a 7-in. interactive touch screen. To operate the simulator, users apply jumpers between source lines, transformers and a secondary system. When they press the “test” button, the simulator will display phase-to-phase voltages, phase-to-neutral voltages, phase angles and load.

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