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TRANSFORMERS Googling the word ‘transformers’ brings up the Hollywood blockbuster movie about incredible machinery coming to life and saving the world. In reality, a transformer is the heart that pumps electricity at a constant supply, saving the world from darkness, writes ESI Africa editor, Nicolette Pombo-van Zyl. the heart of the electricity supply industry E skom’s planned load shedding, implemented to keep 80% of South Africa supplied with electricity during times of crisis, such as when there is an increased demand for electricity and a shortage of generation capacity, means constant switching of circuits, and this contributes to the breakdown of switchgear and transformer assets. This scenario is not ideal, as in the electricity supply industry the performance of transformers and associated assets is a critical aspect in keeping the delivery of electricity at a constant, and is vital to the operation of industrial plants, commercial enterprises and residential buildings. However, whilst generation equipment is often blamed for load shedding and outages, unreliability of the distribution networks is often the cause. EXPECTED SERVICE LIFE OF TRANSFORMERS Since the power transformer is one of the most important and expensive items of capital equipment in a distribution 52 ESI AFRICA ISSUE 2 2015