An academic visit to Raycap, a prestigious Greek company with substantial exports from the eyes of a young DUTh SB IAS Chapter Student Member
Let us all get an educational tour to what Raycap is all about, from the words of a young DUTh SB IAS Chapter Student Member, Joanna Boutziona.
On May 8th, 2015, the Democritus University of Thrace IAS Chapter organized a trip to a Greek company named Raycap! It was the first time I heard the company’s name and I wondered: “What is this company known for?”. When this trip was over I had actually learned!
Raycap is a big multinational company which was founded in 1987. Its headquarters are in Athens. In Drama it has one of its biggest industrial facilities, the one we visited. Raycap produces advanced products for telecommunication, energy networks and electrical protection. The company’s founder developed the strikesorb, one of the main products of the company, in 2000-2001 and until 2006 the product was improved and its production started. They also produce defensive systems used in aircrafts, and active devices made from copper and optical fibers for DSL, electric energy distribution networks and mobile telecommunication. Those products are exported to 40 countries, in Asia, Africa and America. That’s the reason why they have a lot of cooperators, such as HydroPlus, and many customers, like AT&T, VESTAS and SMA. Raycap’s philosophy is to be reliable for its customers and to be as close as they can to their needs. Therefore, they offer 10 year guarantee for strikesorb products and they managed to increase their personnel from 60 to 230 in 6 years. One of the company’s goals is to increase green energy production and to invest in new technologies. Right now, they produce 3000 strikesorbs daily, which are all tested individually and have a unique serial number in case of an error. The production error is 0,4%!
The conducted tour …
We started our tour from the software lab, where Mr. Thomas informed us about the function of strikesorbs. They can handle both lightning strikes and short circuit currents. Inside of a strikesorb there is a semiconductor named varistor. It is able to bend hypertensions and to abduct the heat immediately, because of its uniform allocation. This product is used for both DC and AC protection.
For DC protection especially, they use inside the strikesorb melting elements to create a short-circuit. The short-circuit lasts as long as the protection system can resist to it. This is an easier way than the one their competitors use. Competitors are trying to bring down the DC arc light which is produced in the inside and provokes overheat. Because of this, the product is usually prematurely aging and shorted, something that leads to replacement of the equipment, which is a substantial cost.
So, for better solutions and research purposes, Raycap has 2 testing rooms. The surrounding of the first room is well protected from any kind of danger, because it has a floating floor and so there is no ground for the shock currents used in. Inside of it, they are testing the charge and the discharge in high voltage of some big capacitors (650kVA). They also use the parasitic self-induction of a conductor for the discharge, because it can cause the shock currents they need for the tests. The maximum value of those currents is 24kA, thus they are able to create quite a value of energy for the capacitors. The main base of the capacitors is plastic for insulation and they are connected with resistances of small value, which are made in bigger dimensions than ordinary, in order to limit overheat.
The second testing room is made for the testing of strikesorb products. They test individually every strikesorb, with emphasis being given to operation tests. By checking the position of the varistor, which must be exactly at the center of the strikesorb, they make sure that the first lightning strike won’t create a short-circuit and disable the whole strikesorb. In addition to that, they are able to create any waveform (maximum current-middle time) they want, based on the standards or the customers’ wills, by changing the values either of the resistance or of the self-induction. If the test is over the preset values, then the strikesorb isn’t proper for use and goes back to production. This is also checked from the waveforms. The time of a long duration waveform is 2msec.
They test if it can handle the MUV, what is the voltageof the strikesorb and the characteristic AC and DC V-I waveforms.
The outside tour …
There is a storage outside the main factory, where they are producing cabins for the Organism of Telecommunications of Greece (ΟΤΕ), by cutting the aluminum with the use of pressurized water and laser technology. They use machines which can cut about 20mm of aluminum, with water alone.
But the most important thing we saw outside was the photovoltaic (solar) park!
The park consists of 18.000 panels and every panel produces 77,5W.
This park was made in November 2010 for researching reasons and is in the use of electricity generation since March 2011.
Those panels are controlled with the use of 12 string boxes, which contain monitoring cards. The data lines contained in these cards are protected by strikesorbs. Every line of the park has 12 panels which are connected together using cables. Those cables are protected all the way through, so that none of the inductive currents will provoke hypertension. There is also an anti-lightning system which is powered by DC voltage from the panels and can stand lightning strikes up to 50kA. Furthermore, they use 2 inverters which contain ABB breakers to interrupt DC voltage any time they want. Each inverter consumes 800kW and one of them is for AC low to middle voltage (324-2000V). Moreover, the park can be controlled remotely.
Next to the park, there is a storage where they store their ready-to-go products. They use panels for the heating and the cooling of the building and photocells regulated to save energy. Every product in the warehouse has a unique code and there are 12.000 codes. They have a fiber laser for cutting, which uses optical fiber and is extremely fast.
Finally, we can say that we learned a lot of things for protection of both electrical and telecommunication networks and for photovoltaic (solar) parks. It was a really interesting educational trip and I hope that we will have the opportunity to visit more companies like this, soon again!
Report written by:
DUTh SBC IAS Chapter Internship and Job Bourse Committee Representative