Quartzelec replaces HV switchboard to help keep whisky flowing 

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Having supported the North British Distillery with HV maintenance services for the last 15 years, Quartzelec was recently able to recommend the replacement of the main HV switchboard.

With this experience and knowledge, Quartzelec was acutely aware of the ageing equipment and advised the client that the main HV switchboard was in an extremely poor condition and any failure could prove to be costly to both the integrity of the HV network and continued production. This was taken on-board and an independent external consultant was employed by North British Distillery to design and coordinate the tender process.

After a lengthy tendering process, Quartzelec successfully secured the work for the installation of the new 13-panel Schneider GenieEvo switchboard - which proved to be highly challenging. 24/7 operation demanded little or no disruption to output, the switchboard’s first-floor location in the middle of the plant presented major access problems and test cores taken from the concrete floor of the new switch room revealed that it would not be strong enough to support the new switchboard.

“This was a challenging project, and whilst we were the incumbent HV supplier, we still tendered for the contract and were delighted to be awarded the work,” stated Andy Grant, Quartzelec’s Hamilton-based contracts engineer who coordinated the delivery. “We delivered all the work in two planned maintenance periods over the last year, so timing and logistics were imperative to allow for the smooth delivery within extremely tight deadlines.”

The plant has annual shutdowns to allow for essential maintenance. The first was utilised to carry out various stages of the installation in order to optimise time during final changeover, including construction of the new switch room with small power and lighting, fire alarm system, air conditioning and installation of cable containment, HV cabling, protection cabling and earthing cabling, all requiring the use of strategically-located scaffolding platforms. A steel support frame spanning the length of the new switch room supported by the building’s steel framework was also installed and assembled, providing the strength required for the new setup. Installation of the switchboard itself required dedicated scaffolding and section-by-section craning over the building.

The second three-week outage saw all cabling, terminations, jointing, installation, testing and commissioning. A full protection grading study enabled protection relays with various inputs dependent on the plant’s characteristics. Quartzelec ensured completion of all aspects ahead of schedule, on budget and to the customer’s satisfaction.

“Quartzelec were chosen as the principal contractor for the project, having provided long-term support to the distillery,” added Paul Donaldson, engineering manager for North British Distillery. “The professionalism and high quality workmanship allowed a new switch room to be constructed, with the installation of a new 13 Panel board, allowing North British Distillery to undertake a much needed upgrade to our HV system and without any interruption to our production process, continuing the successful working relationship between North British Distillery and Quartzelec.”