At the February 2005 SEL Advanced Metering Conference, one of the attendees from an electric utility shared the following anecdote. His company had a control panel prefabricated for installation at an electric substation. The control panel was built in the fabrication shop and was shipped to the substation. During the shipping process, the control panel was dropped, possibly damaging the electronic equipment.
One of the pieces of equipment in the panel was a highend 0.2 accuracy class electric meter manufactured by one of our competitors. The electric utility, wanting to make sure that there was no damage, sent the meter back to the manufacturer to have it tested and checked for proper calibration. The meter was found to be undamaged in the shipping mishap. The meter manufacturer subsequently billed the electric utility $350 to perform the test and check.
The readers of this article may find nothing unusual in this story – the majority of manufacturers would charge a fee to test or repair equipment in a situation like this. But those of us who work at SEL have a different response. SEL would not have charged to perform the test and check of the meter. When we receive a product for repair or just a “test and check,” we perform this service for free under our no-hassle, tenyear warranty. The idea of charging for this kind of service is completely foreign to us.
The return and repair process works differently for a customer of SEL. The customer simply calls to report the problem and receives instructions on how to return the product. The customer would not experience questions like, “What is your customer support number?” or “Are you on our Premium Support Plan?” With SEL, no one needs a customer support number or an extra-cost support plan. With a nohassle, ten-year warranty, there is just no reason to ask these questions.
Once SEL receives the meter, our Product Hospital technicians investigate the root cause of the problem, and the meter is repaired and retested. A Failure Analysis Report explaining the problem identified and the repair action taken is sent to the customer. The meter is then shipped back to the customer. In 85 percent of cases, this all occurs within three days of receipt of the meter.
In our electric utility customer’s example, the test and check of an SEL meter would have occurred within three days, and there would have been no charge for this service. When considering the most economical solution for high-end metering, it really makes sense to consider what the repair costs will be over the life of the meter. As we have shown here, different manufacturers can have dramatically different warranties and repair costs.
SECOND SEL CONFERENCE
Share your own stories about high-end metering at the Second Annual SEL Advanced Metering Conference in San Antonio, Texas, February 21–22, 2006. This conference will feature case studies, presentations, and discussions relevant to metering for substation, generation, and industrial loads. Topics will include high-accuracy 4-quadrant metering, power quality measurements, calibration testing, time-of-use metering, secure meter communications, and instrument transformers.