North America’s electrical grid will soon benefit from a new source of vacuum interrupters — a critical component for many medium- and high-voltage electrical distribution centers — with the grand opening of Vacuum Interrupters, Inc.— Manufacturing Facility (VIM).

While Vacuum Interrupters, Inc. (VI) will continue to be based in Farmers Branch, TX, VIM will operate out of its new facility in Denton, TX. VIM recently completed development and testing of its first vacuum interrupter design. This initial product is a replacement for the 5 kV/400 A/50 MVA Westinghouse SJ contactor, one of the replacement interrupters most requested by North American utilities and the manufacturing and processing industries. Plans are in development to add an 800 A version.

High-power testing of the 400 A prototype was performed by Powertech Labs, Inc. in Surrey, BC, Canada. This design will be used as a base for similarly rated applications, such as the GE Limitamp, as well as other popular interrupter models and custom OEM applications.

“We expect our initial Westinghouse SJ vacuum interrupter to go into volume production in the second half of this year, with other models to follow shortly thereafter,” notes Finley Ledbetter, chief scientist and CEO of VI’s parent company, Group CBS, Inc.

The company plans to produce additional interrupter designs for standard and high-demand replacement parts, as well as new designs for the electric industry’s major original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), explains Jerod Day, vice president of Vacuum Interrupters, Inc. “Our intent is to be a manufacturer, not just a design house,” Day says. “Vacuum Interrupters, Inc., North America’s largest seller of replacement vacuum interrupters, will look to supply other OEM partners on a case-by-case basis.”

Working with Group CBS, including VI and the Group’s national network of electrical equipment sales and service companies, customers will be able to purchase complete solutions from a single source: VI for individual vacuum interrupters, vacuum interrupter assemblies, including embedded pole assemblies; and Group CBS companies for complete vacuum-based circuit breakers and associated products.