A Changeover Strategy for a Main Switchboard

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A Changeover Strategy for a Main Switchboard
Kevin Barry, Member, Student (Other), Australia

Careful planning, good people, robust tactics, and a Plan B ensure success

A few years ago working as a senior electrical engineer for an engineering consultant I was responsible for the design and construction supervision of a new main switchboard to replace the existing one in a 30 level office building. The clear strategy with this type of project is: map the existing switchboard by personal observation; document the new switchboard installation with drawings and a specification and get client approval for these; very carefully select 3 contractors capable of doing the work; get bids from the contractors; select one after a bid evaluation and then work closely with the contractor as he plans the detailed tactics of the project using a critical path software program. Review the shop drawings produced by the switchboard supplier; while the switchboard is being made get building work done in what will be the new switchroom; and in parallel get all of the prepatory work done for the incoming and outgoing feeder cables that will connect to the new switchboard. Then inspect the finished switchboard in the factory; and once it is on site assemble the switchboard shipping sections, test it, then connect up the prepatory incoming and outgoing feeder cables and have all of the work that can possibly be done prior to the changeover done and tested ready for the changeover. Have hired-in mobile generators ready (one for the site, one on standby in case the first one fails); install temporary lighting and power in the working areas; notify all tenants well in advance when the power shutdown will occur and provide written guidance on when and how they should shut down their computers and telephone systems; tee up the electricity network provider for connecting the new incoming cables at his substation and for testing of the new switchboard before it is energised; have key-person-back-up arranged with the contractor in case of sickness or accident; arrange two work teams for two 12 hour shifts with one half hour overlap for briefing handover between teams; review the Plan B arrangements with the contractor so the contingency plans are in place then go ahead with the shutdown in a holiday period. Witness the testing of the new switchboard with all of its cables connected; see that it is energised; energise all of the outgoing feeder cables one at a time and test at the load end; and have contractor's people on hand to support the tenants when they return to work and switch their PCs and telephones back onto power.

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