Using CompactRIO and LabVIEW Real-Time to Build a Transformer Monitoring System

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"The transformer monitoring system is a user-friendly, reliable solution that provides centralized monitoring and diagnosis of a remotely located distribution transformer developed using the CompactRIO platform and LabVIEW."

- Jaswinder Singh, Project Leader Power System Automation, NexGEN Consultancy Pvt. Ltd.

The Challenge:
Designing a transformer monitoring system (TMS) to acquire, process, analyze, and communicate critical parameters to a centralized data center for analysis and visualization of widespread distribution transformers in an electrical network.

The Solution:
Using NI LabVIEW software and the CompactRIO platform with a general packet radio service (GPRS) communications interface to collect data from remote distribution transformers and provide graphical visualization using a geographical information system (GIS) and a Web-based application.

Jaswinder Singh - Project Leader Power System Automation, NexGEN Consultancy Pvt. Ltd.
Ravinder Singh - NexGEN Consultancy Pvt. Ltd.
Abhishek Gaur - NexGEN Consultancy Pvt. Ltd.
Yashwant Shrimali - NexGEN Consultancy Pvt. Ltd.
Himanshu Goyal - NexGEN Consultancy Pvt. Ltd.

Distribution transformers, which are critical components of a power distribution system, are located on the feeders below the substation. We decided to create a remote system to monitor the transformers on a regular basis because manual monitoring is not economically viable. Though we have long needed to remotely monitor these transformers in real time, until now we did not have a viable communication medium and data acquisition system. In the last couple of years, field-programmable gate array (FPGA)-based technology has grown, increasing the reliability of a distribution network. In addition to conventional technical data like current and voltage, other information such as the oil temperature and level in the transformer are required by the operators to ensure reliable power delivery and to assist in day-to-day decision making.

System Description

The TMS we created uses CompactRIO with a communication interface for GPRS/code division multiple access (CDMA) to collect data from remote transformers for daily usage, total usage, real-time and long-term data management, automatic report generation, energy accounting, and to graphically represent the transformer on a GIS at a centralized data center (see Figure 1).

User Interface

The data center application consists of an interactive user interface developed in LabVIEW (see Figure 2) for viewing real-time and historical data in different formats that corresponds to network hierarchy. The application can instantaneously acquire data from multiple CompactRIO modules in real time or on a scheduled basis depending on the requirements.

Management Information System

The management information system (MIS) helps the utility companies move ahead without much restructuring or time and money. The MIS provides relevant information in a timely, accurate manner in analytical, graphical reports (Figures 3 and 4) that can be used at various decision-making levels in an organization to meet both internal and external requirements.

Outage Management System

The outage management system (OMS) includes all business processes and supporting technologies related to the interruption of electric power supply to customers. Outage management generally includes outage notifications and general service problems. The OMS facilitates work scheduling and improves customer service by providing fast, accurate information about maintenance and outages. The system sends notifications to users via email, SMS, and GUI for preprogrammed parameters and provides alerts, such as demand violation, abnormal power factor, and tamper conditions.

Geographical Information System

Our GIS provides network representation and visualization of power system resources (see Figure 5). The GIS contains special symbols that represent the current state of the electrical network. The system can pan to desired points on the map to zoom in or out on a point. The maps automatically change levels so users can edit networks such as substations (66/33/11 kV), transformers/sections (33/22/11kV), and the distribution transformer. Users can then view real-time transformer information, such as electrical parameters and oil level/temperature on the GIS.

Transformer Asset Management System

Power utilities have a variety of transformers and accessories in an electrical network. A large amount of data is available with utilities, but we only use a small amount and usually require limited data exchange with other applications. Asset management assists the acquisition, use, and disposal of assets to make the most of them and manage the related risks and cost across the entire life of the system. It provides the user with various transformer-asset data.

Web Publishing

We built a customized Web application for users connecting to the system with a LabVIEW Web server. A user can access the main application only after a successful login based on authorization, authentication, and access security. Various levels can access both real-time and historical data. The systems logs all successful and failed login attempts. Multiple clients can view the application according to the granted access. Web publishing provides an easy, effective, and low-investment means of accessing data.


The TMS is a user-friendly, reliable solution that provides centralized monitoring and diagnosis of a remotely located distribution transformer developed using the CompactRIO platform and LabVIEW. It identifies low-performance areas, helps users take remedial action to avoid power interruption to improve power reliability, and ultimately enhances customer satisfaction and extends the life of the equipment.

Author Information:
Jaswinder Singh
Project Leader Power System Automation, NexGEN Consultancy Pvt. Ltd.
Tel: +91 9871794650

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