Late last year, Voyten Electric, Franklin, Pa., got the call that a leaky roof had caused an outdoor substation to explode at a nearby manufacturing plant in Western Pennsylvania, putting hundreds of people out of work for the indefinite future. OEM replacement switchgear would take up to 12 weeks to deliver. However, Voyten was able to get replacement switchgear on-site within two business days and the plant up and running again within a week.

“Apparently, the GE AM vertical lift 5kV substation switchgear wasn’t thirsty,” says Mike Nightingale, president of Voyten Electric. “When the water hit the gear, it blew the roof right off the substation.”

Allegheny Field Services, Johnstown, Pa., the primary contractor on the repair, estimated that an OEM replacement, including three feeder vacuum breakers, would take a minimum of 12 weeks. Based on its long relationship with Voyten, Allegheny gave them a call to see if they could help.

“We had a surplus 5kV ABB VHK switchgear on-site, which was actually an upgrade for the customer, because it included a main along with the three feeder circuits,” explains Gregory Plowman, project manager of Voyten Electric. “We put eight technicians on the project right away, using Professional Electrical Apparatus Recyclers League (PEARL) Inspect & Test (I&T) standard 2310 for Medium Voltage Switchgear and 2220 Medium Voltage Circuit Breakers Vacuum to clean, test, and document the switchgear’s performance. We would have used PEARL’s reconditioning standards, but the customer needed the equipment right away, no exception."

Although it had the switchgear in stock, Voyten also needed to get their hands on replacement vacuum breakers, so it turned to the PEARL network. Fellow PEARL members National Switchgear Systems, Inc., Lewisville, Texas, and North American Switchgear, Inc., Cleveland, supplied the VHK vacuum breakers.

“We were able to get the switchgear at the site in two days,” says Plowman. “With a crew of four working 16 hours, we finished the testing on the customer’s site. Within a week, Allegheny had them up and running. So, the workers got a long Labor Day vacation instead of layoff that lasted months.”