ABB’s Protection Relay Retrofit Program Modernizes Power Systems

February 08, 2023 by Shawn Dietrich

ABB introduces a retrofit program to replace aging protection devices with new multi-function devices. The program promises to extend the lifespan of switchgears and future-proof equipment for an ever-expanding electrical grid.

ABB Relay Retrofit program to modernize equipment
ABB is supporting their customers with a replacement program for protection devices. Image used courtesy of ABB


ABB Substation Components

ABB is well known for its robots and electrical components, but they also make components for substations. A substation is part of the electrical grid where voltage is converted from high to low or reverse. Some transformers convert the voltage and electrical cabinets within the substation that house the protection devices. The protection device ensures that circuits are opened in the case of overcurrent events, which could cause property damage or personal injury. As these components age, they need to be replaced, and ABB is supporting their customers with a replacement program. 


REX610 protection relay (right) can replace twelve part numbers within SPACOM family (left)

The REX610 protection relay (right) can replace twelve part numbers within the SPACOM family (left). Image used courtesy of ABB


Relay Retrofit Program

The SPACOM family of protection relays are a collection of ground fault, overcurrent, and combination protection relays. These relays monitor the electrical system and disrupt a circuit in the event of a ground fault or overcurrent. Twelve part numbers within the SPACOM family can be replaced by one REX610. 

The REX610 is a fully customizable protection relay with only six variants—the limited parts reduce complex ordering and fast turnaround time. ABB is offering a program where they will schedule a time with their customers to replace the aging SPACOM part number with the new REX610. The two products share the same size cutout, reducing the existing equipment's impact. 

ABB also offers a retrofit adapter to assist with the new wiring configuration of the REX610. The retrofit program is ABB's latest service program offering and covers the components, tools, personnel, and assistance throughout the engineering and installation phase. The REX610 will be pre-configured to match the existing SPACOM function before installation, and additional features of the REX610 will be made available to the end user. 


REX610 Substation Protection Relay

The REX610 provides "all-in-one" protection. Image used courtesy of ABB


REX610 Substation Protection Relay 

The REX610 protection relay is a fully customizable relay designed for medium-voltage substations. Some functions are circuit breaker controllability, autorecloser, voltage-based protection, and condition monitoring. Having all of these functions, and more, in one device reduces spare parts lists and downtime in the event of a malfunction. 

Substations are typically unmanned and can be in remote locations, so these systems rely heavily on SCADA systems to monitor and control on-site events. By switching to a digital or modern protection device like the REX610, operators in remote locations can monitor the status of these devices and even reset faults remotely. 


Modern Power Distribution

The industrial world is becoming more digital, and power distribution is no different. Smart grid systems are no longer a thing of the future, but for the existing systems to work in this digital world, devices have to meet minimum communication requirements. This means perfectly working components must be replaced to make room for more advanced digital devices. 

With advanced technology, we can sometimes replace multiple devices with one device. ABB is pushing change by introducing the retrofit program and offering customers a chance to upgrade equipment which will lengthen the lifespan of neighboring equipment.