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24th International Conference on Electricity Distribution Glasgow, 12-15 June 2017

Paper 0703

Reliability Measures: Failure and Root Cause Analysis (FRCA) for GIS Early Failure

Miky Lee, Ph.D. Mingu Park Younggeun, Kim

Technical Advisor of Reliability Process Engineer Director of R&D Center
LSIS – S. Korea LSIS – S. Korea LSIS – S. Korea

GIS circuit breaker (CB) consists of high voltage parts,
control and auxiliary, and operating mechanism.
Operating mechanism is one of subassemblies
responsible for most failures in GIS CB. Although
hydraulic oil leakage in the operating mechanism has
been considered as one of examples of minor failures, it
consistently nags customers so manufacturers or
maintenance service providers cannot ignore the pressure
of complaints from them and ends up with hydraulic
pressure drop, motor overload, and mechanism or CB
malfunction. This study performs failure and root-cause
analysis and suggests how to deal with the cause of early
failures such as external oil leakage issues of hydraulic
operating mechanism for GIS.

GIS circuit breaker (CB) should be highly reliable on
time due to its most important protection role for an
electric power system. Operating mechanism is one of
subassemblies responsible for most failures (43 % for
major failures and 44% for minor failure [1]) as well as
the indispensable functional element in GIS CB.
Examples of minor failures mentioned in CIGRE
international surveys on circuit breaker reliability data [2]
include hydraulic oil leakage, small SF6 gas leakage due
to corrosion or other causes and change in functional
characteristics. Definition of major and minor failure in
this paper also follows CIGRE.
Failure and root cause analysis for operating mechanism Figure 1 Process Flow Diagram of Failure and Root Cause Analysis
failures continues to be a topic of major interest for GIS
reliability because determination of root cause is a good material handling, part precision machining, storing, and
engineering practice that crosses functional boundaries assembling before installation or during installation. And
within company and is an integral part of the quality causes leading to hydraulic oil leakages are various and
assurance and continuous reliability improvement [3]. same failure modes could happen due to multiple causes
An external oil leakage issue of hydraulic operating or combination of them.
mechanism for GIS installed at one of customer’s site In this study, a Failure Mode, Effects and Criticality
2013 was reported to a manufacturer as one of failures Analysis (FMECA) based on the severity and frequency
June of 2016 and chosen to investigate for this study. of occurrence of an item failure was performed firstly in
External oil leakage means oil leaking out of operating order to prioritize work scope for corrective actions. Non-
mechanism, while internal oil leakage does not leak out destructive and destructive evaluation was followed for
but mechanism characteristic such as velocity, time detail failure analysis [4]. 1st step in failure analysis was
response, hydraulic pressure, and internal noise changes. to clean and isolate a suspected culprit (failed part or
Investigation for early failures during product life cycle specimen) so no extra damage can be introduced during
like this case exposed that defects had mostly been handling. 2nd step is to perform non-destructive
impregnated during manufacturing processes such as evaluation such as macroscopic/microscopic examination

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24th International Conference on Electricity Distribution Glasgow, 12-15 June 2017

Paper 0703

/X-ray diffraction inspection to find fracture origin or Table 1 Failure Modes and Effect Criticality Analysis
failure sites. 3rd step is a destructive evaluation process No Manufactu
. ring Date
Failure Date Repair Date
Repair Information Failure Mode

using metallographic equipment (light microscopy, 1 2014 16.05.26 16.05.26 Pump Unit Pump Assy Replacement 1.2 External Leakage
scanning electron microscopy, or laser optical 2 2013 16.01.15 16.05.27 Pump Adaptor
O-ring & Teflon
3-1. Wrong Torque Level
Tape Replacement
microscopy) to identify root-cause of failure. Wet Accumulator
3 2016 16.05.20 Oil Cap Machining 7-1.Part Management Error
chemical and composition analyses with hydraulic oil of Failure

failed operating mechanism to investigate potential 4 2016 - -

Control Block
(V/V Block) Block Replacement 2-2. Concentricity Defect
failure causes and mechanical functional test to duplicate Machining Failure
15.02.05~ Oil Tank & Pump
the failure were performed simultaneously. Suggestions 5 2013 2015.02.01
Mechanism Pump
Discharge Point
1.2 External Leakage

for reliability improvement of hydraulic operating 6 2013

2015.05.19 15.07.01/16.04.2
M8 Bolt Thread
Oil Tank Assy
3-4. Missing Component
/16.04.06 6~27 Replacement
mechanism and corrective or preventive actions against 7 2013
2015.05.19 15.07.01/
Oil Tank
Oil Tank & Pump
3-3. Cleaning Issue
/16.04.06 16.04.26~27 Replacement
external oil leakage were recommended after completing 8 2013 15.09.18 Control Block Component Replacement 2-2. Concentricity Defect
these analyses. 9 2015 - - Joint Component Replacement 3-1. Wrong Torque Level
10 2015 16.04.01 16.03.28 Rotary Actuator Component Replacement 2-1. Size Defect
11 2015 - - Control Block Component Replacement 2-2. Concentricity Defect
METHODOLOGY AND ANALYSIS 12 - - - Poppet Component Replacement 2-2. Concentricity Defect

Figure 1 illustrates the process flow diagram of failure 13 2013 16.06 16.06 Bush, Rod, Seal Component Replacement 1.2 External Leakage

Risk Analysis
and root cause analysis (FRCA) regarding external oil No Risk
Failure Effect Failure Cause Response Method Occur Downtime Repair
leakage issues of hydraulic operating mechanism for GIS, .
rence /Repair time Difficulty

reported to a manufacturer as one of failures June of 2016. 1 External Leakage

1. Concentricity Defect
Process Revision 1 2 2 4
2. Roughness Defect
See figure 2 for failure effects of this reported leakage Miscommunication bet.
Periodic Conference
2 External Leakage bet. 2 2 1 4
issue. FRCA process flow shows a practical procedure of LS & Supplier
LS & Supplier
New Product
failure analysis added value for reliability measures. 3 Assembly Failure Operator Mistake
1 3 2 6
1. Concentricity Defect Polishing Tool
4 Internal Leakage 9 3 2 54
2. Roughness Defect Replacement
1. Failure Modes and Effect Criticality Analysis 5 Motor Overrun/Overload
Scar on Pump
Discharge Point
Product Replacement 5 2 1 10

(FMECA) 6 Assembly Failure Tank Helisert Missing Worker Training 1 1 1 1

The failure modes and effect criticality analysis is termed 7 External Leakage Damaged Gasket Gasket Replacement 1 1 1 1
8 Motor Overrun/Overload Broken Spring Process Improvement 5 3 2 30
as a bottoms up analysis. The FMEA is based on a
9 External Leakage Disapproved Process Process Improvement 1 2 1 2
qualitative approach, whilst the FMECA takes a 10 External Leakage Spool Scratch Product Replacement 4 2 2 16
quantitative approach and is generally viewed as an 11 Motor Overrun/Overload
Process Replacement 5 3 2 30
Process Defect
analysis, which should be implemented during the design 12 Trip Free Poppet Roughness Process Improvement 1 3 1 3
phase, to have maximum influence and impact on the 13 Motor Overrun/Overload
1.Seal Scratch Defect
2.Rod Defect
Process Improvement 1 4 4 16
final design, with respect to reliability performance
characteristics. It is a primarily a quality planning tool to Table 2 Failure Modes of Hydraulic Operating Mechanism
identify failure and effect and prioritize the risks on Failure Modes Details
1-1 Internal Leakage
system, product or service. It is used to establish control, 1 Hydraulic Oil Leakage
1-2 External Leakage
prioritize process and prevent process errors. Table 1 2-1 Size Defect
shows the result of FMECA applying to claimed failures 2-2 Concentricity Defect
2-3 Angle Defect
of hydraulic operating mechanisms. Models focused for 2 Machining Defect 2-4 Roughness Defect
this analysis belong to lower voltage rates of GCB than 2-5 Parallelism Defect
2-6 Surface Treatment Defect
400 kV. Failures in FMECA were all reported within 3 2-7 Welding Defect
years after installation. Table 2 is failure modes of 3-1 Wrong Torque Level
hydraulic operating mechanisms defined for internal use 3. Assembly Defect
3-2 Assembly Direction Fault
3-3 Cleaning Issue
only. Table 3 presents failure consequences and level of 3-4 Missing Component
severity determined for risk analysis after discussion with 4 Design Defect
5 COTS Defect COTS (Commercial off-the-shelf)
maintenance/repair service department. From FMECA, 6 Material Defect
priority of failure modes in order, to concern, is as 7 Human Error
7-1 Part Management Error
7-2 Document Management Error
follows: external leakage, internal leakage, and assembly 8 Malfunction
defect. 9 Emotional Dissatisfaction

2. Failure analysis Table 3 Failure Consequences and Level of Severity

Failure Consequences Level Risk Description
Failure analysis is a systematic approach to find the
1 Repairable during Normal Operation
causes or root-causes that have led to an undesired loss of 2 Operation Stoppage less than or equal to 1 Day
functionality. It recommends least destructive to most 3 Operation Stoppage less than or equal to 1 Week
4 Operation Stoppage less than or equal to 3 Weeks
destructive until root-cause is nailed down. See figure 3 1 Repair Duration less than 6 hours
for failure analysis process performed in this study. Repair Time 2 Repair Duration less than 1 Day
3 Repair Duration less than 2 days
Visual inspection practiced here includes naked eyes, 1 Minor Failure (in-site Repairable)
Failure Handling Difficulty
stereomicroscopy, and laser optical microscopy with 2 Major Failure (Maintenance Shop Repairable)

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24th International Conference on Electricity Distribution Glasgow, 12-15 June 2017

Paper 0703

important role in gas or oil leakage prevention. One seal

is for keeping from SF6 gas ingress and three for oil
leakage prevention and keeping oil pressure of 340
Kgf/cm2. Thru failure duplication test, it was shown that
cylinder assembly with scratched step seals leaked
immediately after reciprocating operations started.
Cylinder assembly with a combination of old bush
(leaked step seals) and new rod also started to leak after
324 operations.
Figure 7 shows sharp protrusion on cylinder rod. Max.
Figure 2 Oil spilled in Circuit Breaker (upper) and Pressure height and length of protrusion are 29.70 µm and 2.0 cm
Drop of Gas Pressure Gauge, Number: 2077 of Motor Overrun,
and Oil Drop from Post-Insulator (lower) after Hydraulic respectively while mean roughness of rod surface is
Operating Mechanism Failure 1.9 µm. It appears around circumferential direction.
Cylinder rod was precision-machined. The rod material
was processed for rough machining and finishing and
Information Gathering
(Collection of background data and selection of samples) polishing process was carried out using a cylindrical
Locating Failure Site grinder after the heat treatment. This protrusion on rod
Visual Inspection
seems to be sharp and noticeable enough to create the
Identifying Failure Mechanism scratch on inner surface of step seals when the rod plays
reciprocating motions in cylinder assembly.
Non-Destructive Evaluation Assurance for Prevention

Outcasing Table 4 Material Information of Parts in Cylinder Assembly

Report Parts Material Quantity
Surface Analysis Step Seal PTFE Teflon 4
Rod SCM440 1
Bush SM45C 1
Cylinder FCD50 1
Destructive Evaluation Guide SCM440 1
Seal Ring SCM440 1
Figure 3 Failure Analysis Process

Figure 5 Scratch Marks on the Inner Surface of Step Seals

Figure 4 Schematics of Cross-sectional View and Part List

of Cylinder Assembly

digital imaging device in order to identify or record 1st Seal

anomalies or physical damages. Cylinder assembly in
hydraulic mechanism was the failure site, where external
oil leakage occurred and was paid attention to analyse
further in this study. Cylinder assembly is composed of 2nd Seal
cylinder, bush, rod, seal ring, step seals, and a guide.
Figure 4 shows schematics of cross-sectional view and
part list of cylinder assembly. Material information of
parts in cylinder assembly is in table 4. After 3rd Seal

disassembling cylinder assembly, scratch mark was found

on the inner surface of step seals (see figure 5 and 6),
which locate between bush and rod. 4 step seals play an
4th Seal

Figure 6 Scratch Marks on 4 Step Seal Inner Surfaces

(Digital Image of Optical Microscopy)
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24th International Conference on Electricity Distribution Glasgow, 12-15 June 2017

Paper 0703

Kgf/cm2) of hydraulic oil pressure happened immediately

after a few test operations with leaked cylinder assembly.
Test result of new rod and bush with leaked step seals
also shows leakage even it is less amount of oil leakage
than previous test. And the pressure drop was 340  300
Kgf/cm2 after 324 operations. Test with leaked rod and
bush with new step seals did not show any sign of
leakage during duplication test over 500 operations.
Analysis from these tests concluded that bush with leaked
step seals was the culprit of leakage and the cause of the
leakage was damaged step seals. After tests, cylinder
assembly was disassembled for detail failure analysis.
Figure 9 shows leakage duplication test dummy set-up,
controller, and oil leakage near cylinder assembly after
test operations.

Figure 7 Picture of Surface Defect on Cylinder Rod (upper) and

Image of Rod Defect by Laser Optical Microscopy (lower)

3. Wet chemical and composition analyses

There are 2 steps in cleaning process during production
of hydraulic operating mechanism. Both are done after
machining and grinding. 1st step is the preliminary
cleaning stage to get rid of burr just after air blowing
foreign objects from the holes. 2nd step is to remove dust
by ultrasonic wave. If the rod defect shown in figure 7
occurred before cleaning process, there will be no
remnant or metal dust remaining in hydraulic oil because
they are all washed out during cleaning. If it happened
after cleaning process, there is high possibility that metal
dust remains in used oil. In this case, the shape of rod
defect due to metal dust in oil is supposed to form in the
longitudinal direction instead of circumferential direction
because of the reciprocating motion of rod in the cylinder Figure 8 Wet Chemical Analysis Result of Hydraulic Oil:
assembly. The result of FTIR, EDX, and Gas Gas Chromatography (upper) and FTIR (lower)
Chromatography (GC) analysis shows no chemical
Table 5 Analysis Result of Leakage Duplication Test
discrepancy between new oil and used oil and no metallic
Test Phenomenological Analysis
substances in oil. Figure 8 shows wet chemical analysis Combination Test
Leakage Pressure Gauge Level Leakage
result of hydraulic oil by GC and FTIR. Therefore, rod of Cylinder Result
Status 2
Gauge Causes
Assembly (Kgf/cm )
defect is likely to occur in rod machining or assembly
process before cleaning. Old Old
1 Leakage Medium 340  200 Up Bush, Rod
Rod Bush
New Old
2 Leakage Small 340  300 ~ Bush
4. Failure duplication test Rod Bush
Failure duplication test was performed with 2 experiment Old New
3 X X No Change No Change Bush
Rod Bush
purposes. One is a test to investigate the leakage *Old Bush (Bush + Leaked Step Seals), New Bush (Bush + New Step Seals)
phenomenon and failed part in already leaked cylinder
assembly. The other is to perform reciprocating motion of
the combination assemblies of new cylinder rod and bush
with leaked step seals and leaked cylinder rod and bush
with new step seals under normal operating condition of
mechanism in order to identify cause or root-cause of
failure. See table 5 for test reference.
This test recreated the leakage from hydraulic operating Figure 9 Leakage Duplication Test Dummy Set-up, Controller,
mechanism and analysed the effect of defect in cylinder and Oil Leakage near Cylinder Assembly after Testing
rod and revealed how to contribute bush step seals to leak. Operations
It was noticed that the abnormal drop (340  200

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24th International Conference on Electricity Distribution Glasgow, 12-15 June 2017

Paper 0703

CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS of high voltage equipment - Part 2: SF6 circuit

breakers”, CIGRE TB 510
There are findings from this study as follow: [3] Daniel Dennies, 2005, Technology and engineering
 Thru failure duplicate test, scratches on the inner [4] Debbie Aliya, Materials Engineer, 2016, The failure
surface of step seals in bush were the cause of analysis process: overview
external oil leakage from cylinder assembly of
hydraulic operating mechanism.
 After investigation of cylinder assembly operating
characteristics and microscopic surface analysis, this
seal scratch was induced by the circumferential
protrusion on the cylinder rod surface, which is
considered as the root-cause of this matter.
 Wet chemical and composition analysis, FTIR, and
EDX with hydraulic oil leaked and oil filter check
confirmed that defect on rod happened before
cleaning process at the final stage of production,
which means during machining or assembly process.
 Rod surface analysis using laser optical microscopy
said that this type of protrusion comes from poor
precision-machining practices or grinding process
on rod surface.

The cost of field failures like this case is very high when
considering cost to repair, down time, and customer
dissatisfaction. There are a few suggestions to
recommend in order to get rid of same or similar failure
causing defect from machining process and to improve
reliability of hydraulic operating mechanisms.

 Periodic shop audit and proper training program

such as quality control and manufacturing
management for crew members of machining
 Mandatory inspection steps included during
machining or assembly process
 Introduction of assurance program for defect-free
assembly process, handling, and storage
 Choice of right oil filter and filter replacement
 Emphasis on cleanliness of manufacturing and
assembly environments
 Company policy setup for action items upper

Authors would like to thank Mr. Wonil Kim, CEO of
LSIS for his encouragement to let us investigate this
failure issue and Mr. Jaekuk Jeon, production engineer at
LSIS for his willingness to help for this project.

[1] CIGRE Working Group 13.06, 1994, “Final report
of the 2nd international enquiry on high voltage
circuit breaker failures and defects in services”,
[2] CIGRE Working Group A3.06, 2012, “Final report
of the 2004-2007 international enquiry on reliability

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