An Analysis of “Fast Track” Transformer Replacement Projects showed that the Replacement of a Large Transformer can be Greatly Accelerated when the following criteria exist…

  • ONE

    Knowing how to contact Fast-Track Power to quickly understand options that it might be able to offer and related suggestions.  Many transformer and related equipment replacement situations are initiated by those who are directly responsible for a given plant’s performance as opposed to risk managers or corporate staff.

  • TWO

    Finding a replacement transformer does not mean it will get to the job site!

    The client should have a well understood “Transformer Risk Management Plan” in place. Just as importantly, there needs to be a clear decision-making process (and a person recognized as the designated decision maker) in place. We have often seen situations where outages were extended by many weeks due to the need for a client to obtain numerous internal approvals before an order to execute was issued.

    Along these lines, we will note that there is often “a paradox of responsibilities.” Many organizations have purchasing departments where employees are specifically accountable for the costs of items purchased. However, these employees are usually not the same people accountable for the costs of a power production outage (i.e. the business interruption costs/ business income costs due to delays in the decision-making process). Given the often high cost of equipment, long lead times, and complexity of transformer replacements, it is recommended that the Transformer Risk Management Plan address this potential decision-making issue.


    The client’s recognition that the cost of outage likely far exceeds the cost of equipment and special transportation of this equipment to the job site. Too often we have found that general commercial transport of a transformer (typical train or ship transport etc) leads to unexpected delays that cannot be corrected once they are encountered. The cost of a “special train” might not be that much more than a regular train etc. and can greatly reduce the chance of a material logistics delay.

  • FOUR

    Early awareness of special installation circumstances is essential. Often times an exact match for a failed transformer cannot be found in the marketplace making it necessary to adapt both the equipment and site to enable the installation and commissioning of the replacement. Common situations that lead to these adaptations being required include: space limitations and clearances caused by blast walls; recent job site building, public road work/ maintenance and special transformer equipment needs etc. The earlier an approval to move forward can be obtained; the earlier the necessary adaption equipment can be ordered and, importantly, delivered on-site…”For want of a nail, the battle was ”

  • FIVE

    The client’s recognition that the replacement of a transformer is a continuous process that includes:
    a) The identification of the cause of loss and specifics of the failed equipment;
    b) The locating of the replacement equipment;
    c) Evaluation of both the necessary site and equipment adaptations;
    d) Transportation logistics; and
    e) Execution of installation and commissioning.

    While it is obvious that speed is greatly accelerated when all the right equipment is on hand and coordinated by those with experience with “fast-track” high voltage transformer and substation work, what many fail to recognize is that: 1) even the most carefully planned jobs encounter “issues”; and 2) that just because a firm has a reputation in the industry, it does not mean that you are getting work performed by those who built the firm’s reputation.

    More specifically, a firm (or person) who says that he has years in the industry, might have only limited experience in installing transformers and other high-voltage equipment in similar situations to your loss. This, in turn, can lead to accidents, equipment failures, poor maintenance, and incorrect equipment being delivered to the job site leading to significantly increased business interruption costs (and stress on the client’s staff).

  • SIX

    Ordering a new transformer from an OEM is not as easy as it might first appear. Correct understandings need to be clearly presented to allow the early determination if credible options might exist. Given the high cost of equipment and long lead times, one should consider the benefits of having an unrelated party offering input to both the client and the OEMs to help ensure that the correct piece of equipment is being built for a client’s needs (especially when lead times are often 6 months or much longer and change-orders difficult/costly to implement). Moreover, it is recommended that the firm or person who offers this insight should be a hands-on firm as blue- prints do not always match the real-world circumstances.

    Along these lines, while most people focus on price and lead time, it is worth highlighting that a 100 MVA transformer built by OEM #1 might be very different in size (and weight) than a 100 MVA transformer built by OEM #2 etc. making it necessary to add both transportation and installation variables to the replacement considerations (not to mention the more obvious differences that might exist in terms and conditions of sale etc).