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Engineering Innovations

Size-Limited Switchgear Line-Up: Engineering Innovation Case Study

Project managers face many challenges when deciding how best to complete an assignment. Details including equipment costs, labor rates, site locations, and project deadlines all must be considered when crucial decisions are being made. Real estate size can also impact decisions - when the property available is relatively small, innovative ideas and creative thinking are necessary in order to find solutions that meet our customer's needs. As an original equipment manufacturer, National Switchgear has the insight needed to solve today's complex problems and offer solutions in a timely manner.

Conoco Phillips knows from personal experience that constructing new equipment on a small piece of land can be a challenging task. They recently decided to expand one of their pump stations in Wyoming. New compressors, transformers, motors, motor starters, and switchgear would all be needed as well as new buildings in which the equipment could be housed. However, there were two significant limitations - they had a limited power supply, and they needed the switchgear line-up to be less than forty-five feet in length.

National Switchgear was one of several switchgear manufacturers that Conoco Phillips requested bids from. Because of the limited power supply, Conoco specified the use of soft-start motor starters. However, National Switchgear engineers realized that if the soft starts were used in their standard position, the switchgear line-up would not meet the size restrictions specified by Conoco.

National Switchgear's team of experienced engineers began working towards a solution. After analyzing the equipment and housing design, the engineering team decided to create a switchgear-style arrangement of the soft-starts that included installing the power electronics on a roll-out cart. By rotating the soft-starts, they were able to reduce their widths by 3 and 1/2 feet. This modification reduced the length of the switchgear line-up by 14 feet, allowing for a size reduction of the building in which the gear would be installed.

National Switchgear offered a complete package to Conoco Phillips that included low voltage motor control, medium voltage switchgear, and soft-starts all installed in a pre-fabricated metal building. Additionally, National Switchgear estimated an equipment delivery 12 weeks earlier than the competition.

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