If your transformer is nearing the end of its life, or if a recent test indicates that there’s a problem, you have a decision to make: to order a replacement unit or repair the one you have.
In the past, the simplest choice would’ve been to replace the old one. But given the supply chain crisis of 2022 and its effects on lead times, buying a new transformer might not be the best option. After all, you probably can’t wait on extended lead times to get a new unit, and although Maddox has thousands of new and reconditioned transformers in stock and ready-to-ship, your transformer may be unique enough that a replacement is not readily available on the market.
So that leaves one option: repairing your existing unit. In this article, you’ll discover a quick guide to determining whether your transformer can be repaired, how to get it repaired, how to streamline the process, and what the benefits of repairing are compared to those of replacing your unit.
1. Can my transformer be repaired?
The first step in repairing your unit is determining if it’s technically possible or advisable to do so.
If your transformer has a catastrophic failure, replacing it is really the only option. Most catastrophic failures are caused by:
If your unit hasn’t experienced any of these problems, it can most likely be repaired. Transformers that are good candidates for repair often have components that have just aged and need replacing. Leaking bushings, worn-out gauges, peeling paint, and signs of rust are all common problems that can easily be resolved, allowing your transformer to run well for many years.
There are a number of other problems that can occur inside the transformer. If you detect them early enough, most can be repaired. This is why it’s important to conduct regular tests to detect issues before they become serious.
For example, a common routine test is a dissolved gas analysis (DGA), which you can learn more about from our friends over at SD Myers. Let’s say you run a DGA and discover the presence of excess dissolved gasses in the transformer. It could be evidence of a loosened connection, resulting in overheating. Over time (especially in areas with high ambient vibration), some connections may slacken their hold, creating small gaps where arcs can occur. A common example may be problems in the tap changer due to the numerous connection points on the device itself. If you discover these and other problems early, the repair is relatively simple and affordable.
2. If I find a problem with my transformer, what should I do?
If a test like a DGA indicates a problem, the best approach is to (1) run another test to confirm, (2) review the results with an expert (like the engineers at Maddox) to determine if the transformer is worth repairing, and (3) get the transformer into the shop for a more thorough evaluation in a controlled environment.
At Maddox, we run a full battery of tests to diagnose possible problems and assess the overall quality and condition of the core and coil assembly. For a detailed description on testing and how Maddox uses certain tests to evaluate the condition of your transformer, click here.
3. Why should I send the transformer to the shop? Can’t you just fix it in the field?
Like any specialized piece of equipment—such as a car—transformers can develop problems that are difficult to properly diagnose in the field. Sometimes, the field tests struggle to indicate or report a problem accurately. The number of tests available to a field technician is also limited, making a field inspection less thorough than one performed in a controlled production space.
When your transformer comes to Maddox, everything is done in a controlled environment, from the initial evaluation to the final stage of the repair. This ensures the problem is correctly diagnosed and corrected. This also allows us to run the transformer through the repair process with the same rigorous standards applied to the manufacture of new or reconditioned units.
4. Is it quicker to repair or replace?
If your primary concern is lead time, repair is almost always quicker than buying a new unit—and this is especially true given the current supply chain crisis.
However, replacing the damaged unit with a reconditioned one can sometimes be just as fast or faster than repairing or replacing with a brand new unit. If an available reconditioned unit matches the dimensions of the unit in need of repair, you can sell the failing one and replace it with the reconditioned one. Maddox has thousands of reconditioned, ready-to-ship transformers in stock for most common voltage configurations. These are typically available with a warranty comparable or identical to the warranties of newly manufactured units.
5. How do I maintain power while my transformer is being repaired?
Ideally, you would have a spare transformer with identical specifications, but we know this isn’t always the case.
Power can be temporarily maintained by renting a transformer. Our team can help you plan how to maintain your power while your permanent transformer is being repaired.
6. Are there other benefits to repair vs buying a new transformer?
If you have a transformer with a unique dimensional profile, a repair can avoid painstaking retrofit issues. The cost to repair an existing unit will generally be lower than building a custom retrofit unit because it saves us from having to design a new tank to match the current unit. In addition, if we bring the transformer into the shop, we can use the existing enclosure and either fit a replacement core and coil from stock or rewind the old unit with a new coil assembly. This is a great option in a market that’s going to be supply constrained for the foreseeable future.
7. Why should I trust Maddox to repair my transformer?
We are equipped with state-of-the-art repair facilities. We also possess the experience and expertise to tackle the most challenging repair scenarios. When performed under these conditions, repairing your current unit can result in the same level of reliable performance as buying a reconditioned or brand new unit.
Today, repairing your transformer may be your most economical and efficient option for keeping the power on, particularly when:
There are many other situations where a repair job may make sense. But even if you decide to replace a failed or aging transformer, you may want to consider repairing the old one anyway and keeping it on hand as a spare. This will improve the redundancy and resiliency of your electrical infrastructure.
If you think a repair might be the best option for you right now, please contact us today. Our team is ready to help you find the right solution.
Maddox Industrial Transformer is proud to be named one of nine NECA affiliate sponsors for 2022 and 2023.
NECA (National Electrical Contractors Association) has a long legacy of protecting the public and driving innovation in the electrical construction industry.
By becoming a NECA affiliate sponsor, Maddox is able to be part of this legacy going forward. We know what electrical contractors want and need when it comes to industrial transformers. They need in-stock solutions, custom options, and lightning fast quotes. That’s the Maddox way.
Beyond selling new and reconditioned transformers, Maddox also offers transformer repair and a transformer buying program. Do you want to get more life out of an existing transformer? We can help. Do you have some used or surplus transformers you no longer need? We purchase hundreds of transformers each month.
Maddox is the one-stop shop for the transformer needs of electrical contractors.
Camden Spiller, Maddox Industrial Transformer CEO said, “Maddox’s participation in NECA is another reflection of our commitment to serving the best electrical contractors in the nation.”
Contact us today to see how Maddox can get your projects get the power on or get an offer on your surplus equipment.
How recycling and remanufacturing can help us address transformer supply chain woes in 2022.
To help ease the burden on a stressed-out global supply chain, it’s time to embrace domestic recycling and remanufacturing to increase the supply of transformers.
“COVID-zero” policies have not only failed to contain the coronavirus, they’ve also done irreparable damage to the global economy and supply chains. It will likely take supply chains years to return to any normal operating pattern, and this year, we expect it to be even more difficult to get a wide variety of industrial supplies.
In particular, goods like electrical grade steel, winding material, and other critical transformer components are now more expensive and jammed in a huge backlog. We recently discussed how this makes it important to start your planning process early to get the equipment you need.
But is there anything else we can do about these supply chain issues? Glad you asked! We believe there is.
The importance of recycling and remanufacturing in 2022
Here at Maddox, we have always been big believers in recycling used or surplus transformers. The industry term for this is remanufacturing. The Remanufacturing Industry Council defines “remanufacturing” as:
“… a comprehensive and rigorous industrial process by which a previously sold, leased, used, worn, or non-functional product or part is returned to a “like-new” or “better-than-new” condition, from both a quality and performance perspective, through a controlled, reproducible and sustainable process.”
In the case of transformers, we can think of remanufacturing as the process of finding and upgrading the thousands of old transformers that are currently sitting unused in warehouses and equipment yards.
The US is full of this kind of old infrastructure and industrial equipment. In previous years, it was cost effective to just remove that equipment and buy new stuff. But gone are those days.
Instead, we should turn our attention to remanufacturing all those old or out-of-use transformers.
The benefits are numerous:
Here at Maddox, we want to find all of that old equipment that’s collecting dust and rust so we can fix it up, make it like new, and get it back to work.
But to find that equipment, we need your help. If you’ve got surplus or used transformers, please let us know. If you know other people with old transformers they no longer need, send them this link. We’re ramping up our production teams and facilities so we can handle more domestic remanufacturing in 2022 and beyond.
And, of course, we don’t expect you to donate your transformers. We pay well for new and used equipment and take care of all the logistics. No hassles. You can sit back, relax, and know that you’re helping our nation keep the power on. After all, everytime we can find and rebuild an old transformer, it means a project gets online much quicker. That’s good for our workers, our economy, the global supply chain, and even the environment—everybody wins.
Fill out the form below to get an offer on your new or used transformer, or visit our Sell Surplus Page to learn more!