Schnabel Cars: Another Reason Large-Power Transformers Are The Weakest Link In The Bulk Power Grid

May 5 2014, 11:40am CDT | by

The bulk power grid in the United States encompasses over 360,000 miles of transmission lines connecting more than 6,000 power plants with local distribution networks that feed power to end users. The transmission grid has an estimated value of about $1 trillion.

The entire juggernaut relies on a small number of large-power transformers (LPTs), which are also needed at every point where there is a change in voltage in power transmission to step the voltage either up or down.

LPTs are heavily-customized, made-to-order pieces of capital equipment.

“LPTs are usually neither interchangeable with each other nor produced for extensive spare inventories,” as an analysis by the U.S. Department of Commerce concluded.

Roughly 1.3 transformers are produced for each transformer design, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

There is no inventory of LPTs ready to replace units that fail in the field.

“Failure of a single unit could result in temporary service interruption and considerable revenue loss, as well as incur replacement and other collateral costs. Should several of these units fail catastrophically, it will be challenging to replace them.”

In 2010, the average estimated costs of an LPT ranged from $2 to $7.5 million without transportation and installation costs. The latter costs account for roughly one third of an LPTs’ total cost. And for good reason.

LPTs commonly weigh more 400 tons, or roughly the weight of 400 cars stacked on top of each other, and must be transported over long distances.

The logistics involved are extremely complicated and expensive. The first thing you need is a Schnabel car, a specialized railroad freight used to transport extremely tall and heavy loads via railways.

A Schnabel car suspends heavy and oversized loads with lifting arms between two ends of the car. The lifting arms are connected to an assembly of pivots and frames that distribute the weight of the load and the lifting arm over a large number of wheels.

There are only about 30 Schnabel cars in North America and they travel only about 10 miles per hour at top speed.

Road logistics are, if anything, more daunting than railway logistics. Transporting an LPT by road requires obtaining special permits and routes from the department of transportation of each state on the route. Bridges need to be checked, traffic lights removed and replaced and so on and so forth.

 
 

Don't miss ...

 

<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/30" rel="author">Forbes</a>
Forbes is among the most trusted resources for the world's business and investment leaders, providing them the uncompromising commentary, concise analysis, relevant tools and real-time reporting they need to succeed at work, profit from investing and have fun with the rewards of winning.

 

blog comments powered by Disqus

Latest stories

The Black Friday 2014 Sales You can Shop Today 11/26
The Black Friday 2014 Sales You can Shop Today 11/26
Over 20 Black Friday 2014 sales are already launched. Get the deals early to get your head free for the hard to get Black Friday deals to be released on Thanksgiving Day.
 
 
IPad Air Giveaway 2014 is Online
IPad Air Giveaway 2014 is Online
Our sister site I4U News is giving away a brand new iPad Air or if you can wait an iPad Air 2. This is an $499 value.
 
 
Your Parent Or Kid Moved In: Are You Covered?
A record 57 million Americans now live in multigenerational family households — double the number in 1980, according to a new Pew Research Center study. And I bet many of them have the wrong homeowner’s or renters...
 
 
Pandora Looks to Challenge Terrestrial Radio's Dominance in Cars
Pandora Media is one of the largest Internet radio providers in the U.S. with more than 75 million active users. While the company’s active user count has increased at a robust pace historically, it is likely to slow...
 
 
 

Latest from the Network

OPEC decides against oil production cut despite price slump
Viena, Nov 28 (IANS) The ministers of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries(OPEC) decided here Thursday to maintain its output level despite crude oil price fell to a four-year low level. The decision to...
Read more on Business Balla
 
12 killed in bus accident in Egypt
Cairo, Nov 28 (IANS) At least 12 people were killed and three others injured Thursday as a passenger bus overturned into a canal in Egypt's Beni Sweif province, around 120 km south of the capital Cairo, media reported...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Explosions, gun fire rock Kabul diplomatic enclave
Kabul, Nov 27 (IANS) Two explosions followed by gunfire rocked the diplomatic enclave here Thursday night, a security officer said. The area of the blast is close to the Tajikistan embassy. The incident occurred in...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Saarc leaders' wives ladies go sight-seeing at Bhaktapur
Kathmandu, Nov 27 (IANS) While the Saarc leaders conferred on regional matters at the tourist resort of Dhulikhel, their wives drove to the World Heritage Site of Bhaktapur to enjoy the sights of the ancient city. The...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Maria Shriver 'disgusted' by Miley Cyrus's party
Patrick Schwarzenegger's mother was ''disgusted'' by Miley Cyrus's birthday celebrations. Maria Shriver - who, along with Arnold Schwarzenegger, are the parents of the 21-year-old actor - is reportedly ''very worried''...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Kim Kardashian and Kanye West planning nude photoshoot together?
Kim Kardashian West and Kanye West want to do a nude photoshoot together. The couple are reportedly keen to pose naked alongside each other, after the 34-year-old 'Keeping Up With The Kardashians' star recently stripped...
Read more on Celebrity Balla