David Sánchez
Director of Engineering Services Latin America
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POWERMAX Boosts Transmission from Micro to National Grids

By Cas Biekmann | Fri, 08/13/2021 - 13:47

Q: What attracted SEL to the Mexican market and why does the company consider this a good country to manufacture its solutions?

A: SEL was born in 1982fter Dr. Edmund Schweitzer invented the world’s first digital protective Relay SEL-21 He sold the first of these relays in the US and soon after he sold the second in Mexico, to state utility CFE. This company has a great level of engineering knowledge and they trusted in our technological innovation since the early beginning. Other companies then ventured into the world of digital protection.  SEL’s Mexican office opened in 2000 with the objective of providing an even more integral solution to the market. We started out with 18 employees but now have close to 621team members in our engineering group in our Mexican subsidiary. What is more, we decided to open a Mexican manufacturing plant in 2003. Building this type of vertical integration allowed us to boost the quality of our solutions further, catering to the US and Latin America alike. From Mexico, we design, manufacture, support and export to the entire continent. SEL considers Mexico a global hub because it believed in SEL from the beginning. Mexico’s engineering technical level and expertise is significant too. Additionally, CFE is one of SEL’s top end-users and customer in Transmission and Distribution processes, although we cater to Mexico’s private industry players like CEMEX and Cruz Azul just as well.


Q: What sets the company’s customer support apart from its competition?

A: One of the most important factors is SEL’s proximity to its customers around the world. We do not only sell products and solutions, but we also care about providing the best possible post-sales service. With that goal in mind, we want to be close to our customers, which is the reason why we have offices in San Luis Potosi, Mexico City, Torreon, Guadalajara, Hermosillo and Villahermosa. This allows us to provide the best technical support. Furthermore, we are committed in repairing any potential issues related to electrical systems, since we know how urgent these problems can be.

Another differentiator is that we offer a 10-year warranty, repairing or replacing our products with no questions asked. Truly listening to our clients to improve our products is important to us, as is educating our customers on how to optimally apply our solutions. We firmly believe that we should do business the way our mothers would want us to do business.


Q: In your opinion, how are microgrid and smart grid applications growing in the Mexican context and what can be done to spread their benefits?

A: I think that smart grids and microgrids in general represent a big opportunity in Mexico. However, they have not taken off yet. SEL has a great area of expertise that comes from the experience in the US, where we have worked with industry, universities and smart cities. In Mexico, greater demand is still required from these areas. SEL believes there are four factors needed to ensure that success. First of all, you need an engineering group that is technically capable of understanding the needs of the customer and the system. Second, you need experts who are able to analyze and understand how the system performs. An understanding of closed-loop testing is also crucial. Third simulating the network digitally can make testing much easier. Finally, sharing knowledge is of the essence. In Mexico, sharing knowledge and methodologies will be necessary so that microgrids can develop further.


Q: How is SEL helping engineer a more reliable and secure Mexican transmission network?

A: SEL has a solution called POWERMAX, which is a power management solution that works on three levels: microgrids, industrial players with on-site power production facilities and remedial action schemes (RAS) for high-voltage transmission lines. Here, we apply the same four factors we do in microgrids to guarantee stability and prevent blackouts. This technology can, therefore, be used in Mexico’s national electrical system to facilitate monitoring, control and integration of utility-scale energy projects.

I know that CFE has a high technical level when it comes to engineering, on par with the best utilities in the world. It has good protection schemes in its grid. However, our transmission network has not grown at the speed that we needed to. To reach the desired stability, solutions like POWERMAX and remedial action schemes can help. CFE has plenty of experience in applying these schemes but they cannot be done in a decentralized manner. SSEL has the experience to design these systems using last generation technology that make possible to develop systems that can adapt better to Power systems condition schemes to prevent blackouts and foster reliability. This allows decisions to be made that benefit the whole system. SEL has experience with this in Uruguay and Panama Power Systems. The systems of these countries are small but, at the same time, they are interconnected with the much larger systems of its neighboring countries. We, therefore, must respond to external factors to secure the system on a much larger level, mimicking the various situations encountered in different areas in Mexico. If building more transmission capacity is not possible, the country should do what it can to optimize the existing grid and make the right decisions while facing the emergencies and failures the system creates. SEL can help remedy any issues that arise through direct support and close communication with CFE. Additionally, SEL has the fastest digital protective relay T-401Lthat help to keep stability responding within milliseconds, additionally this technology is more secure during system oscillations.

Schweizer Engineering Laboratories (SEL) SEL invents, develops, manufactures, sells and supports products and solutions to protect, control and monitor electrical power systems around the world; from industrial plants to high voltage transmission systems.

Cas Biekmann Cas Biekmann Journalist and Industry Analyst