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Pole Current Indicator

At the end of the Project, DNOs will have a product that when affixed to a pole will give historical and real time indicators of earth current leakage. DNOs will have a facility whereby they can communicate with the general public through a process of education, that should the indicator be illuminated, it is clear at the outset that the pole has been or is hazardous and should not be touched but reported for assessment by the DNO instead. This will inform DNO staff of the environment into which they are entering prior to undertaking work on the pole.

Project-on-a-Page summary

Project data

Start date: 01/05/2017
End date: 30/11/2018
Budget: £282,685

A Touch Safe Tag (TST) Pole Current indicator will provide a visual indication of active or historical earth leakage so as to present a comprehensive picture of the insulation properties of a pole. The TST technique to be developed is essentially straightforward in that it contains electronic components and specifically developed algorithms that measure the electricity current ‘leaking’ down the pole, to provide a visual indication of active earth leakage and/or evidence of historical leakage. The device is fixed to the wooden pole with no additional physical connection to ground or pole top, and in effect, uses the leaking current as its power source to trigger the indicator.

The scope of this project is to develop and demonstrate a device that will be able to identify those poles (and infrastructure) that have had or are in the process of having a breakdown in insulation, which is leading to a leakage of current. The principle behind the device has been proven in a laboratory, and this project aims to build upon this to develop a device which can be used in the field. It is applicable to all GB DNOs as well as some transmission assets; transmission wooden poles and towers.

The project will be split into three stages:

Stage 1 (Product readiness)

  • Research and Development on differing pole make up and produce the prototype Tags.

Stage 2 (Manufacture Readiness and Handheld Diagnostic Instrument)

  • Production of the handheld diagnostic instrument which shall be capable of interrogating a TST device and downloading or viewing historical fault data.

Stage 3 (Field trials)

  • Carrying out field trials in both training and operational environments.

This project will give a greater understanding of insulator failure modes as well as the frequency and magnitude of fault currents that poles are subjected to. It will also therefore provide greater data on losses, both the magnitude and volumes of cases occurring but sitting unidentified.

These failure modes will help guide network operators in improving their compliance and performance against the ESQCR and give additional information when determining maintenance and inspection programmes.


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