Canada becomes world leader in preventive maintenance of power systems

ndb Technologies Inc.

November 12, 2013— Quebec, Quebec

A technician in Indonesia locates a partial discharge on a transformer

ndb has 60 agents and distributors in 40 countries. Here, a technician in Indonesia locates a partial discharge on a transformer.

A power transformer failure and the power outages that result can have serious financial consequences for electricity producers.

In 2011–2012, with the collaboration of the National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC‑IRAP), the Quebec firm ndb Technologies Inc. (ndb) addressed this problem by developing the best portable system in the world for detecting and locating potential partial electrical discharges and overheating in power transformers.

The AE‑150: a Canadian innovation strengthened by a solid partnership

Electricity producers such as Hydro‑Québec did not have any instruments that could locate such current problems effectively. However, a single damaged transformer results in a loss of several millions of dollars per device!

Determined to find a solution to this problem, ndb Technologies Inc., founded in Quebec City in 1991, first obtained the support of NRC‑IRAP in 2009. The company then obtained financial assistance for the electronic, mechanical and software design of the AE‑150, which has become the first device in the world to use acoustic and electrical waves simultaneously for more accurate detection.

The AE‑150 is one of a kind for accurately locating defects related to overheating and partial electrical discharges in high‑power transformers.

The expertise of NRC‑IRAP was very useful to ndb. Marc Quintin, the NRC‑IRAP Industrial Technology Advisor (ITA), helped ndb to structure the project more effectively, identify new suppliers and leverage strategic information. Mr. Quintin also provided invaluable assistance with intellectual property management.

"The assistance of NRC‑IRAP not only helped us design the AE‑150, but also led to us becoming a partner of choice for Hydro‑Québec, and exporting our product around the world," —Luc Hamel, President and CEO of ndb.

The fruits of a successful partnership

Close view of the AE-150.

Automated, portable, accurate and user‑friendly, the AE‑150 provides easy and unsurpassed interpretation of results.

As a result of developing the most advanced device in the world for accurately detecting partial discharges in power systems with the support of NRC‑IRAP, ndb saw its revenues triple since 2009, the area of its plant quadruple and its credibility increase tenfold. Approximately 30 jobs have also been created, 14 of these in R&D.

Exports outside of Quebec have also risen from 57% to more than 83% over the same period.

In addition to NRC‑IRAP funding of approximately $500,000 from 2009 to 2012, ndb obtained essential expert advice from Marc Quintin. ndb’s adoption of an agreement negotiation strategy with its partners and a rigorous scientific approach for the project stemmed from his recommendations.

Until now, the AE‑150 has generated direct financial benefits of more than $1.5 million. The AE 150, as the most innovative device for locating partial discharges in transformers, has been a major driver for ndb. It has enabled ndb to better position itself and improve commercialization of its entire product range.

ndb has become the benchmark for preventive maintenance of power systems around the world: its device is commercialized with transformer manufacturers and power producers in some 15 countries on all continents.

"Our technical advisor continues to provide a great deal of expert advice in many areas as well as technology monitoring that is very beneficial to us. The reports we are required to submit to NRC‑IRAP also help us structure, manage and monitor our projects more effectively," said Mr. Hamel.

ndb is aiming to achieve growth and continuous development of its solutions in order to become a global leader focused on the optimal reliability of power systems.

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