Progress Through Collaboration

The Energy Division recently launched a new Insulator Monitoring System that helps prevent unplanned outages, disruption from loss of generation and generation re-dispatch, and reduces a utility’s operation and maintenance costs. The new system, which was developed by EPRI and licensed by Southwire, provides real-time status on insulator contamination levels from anywhere there is an Internet connection.

“This new Insulator Monitoring System provides accurate, real-time information on the contamination level for insulators, which can be used to address the issue before flashover occurs. Traditionally, utilities address this issue with scheduled cleanings. However, using Southwire’s system, cleaning schedules can be optimized using condition-based maintenance so they are only performed when needed, thus reducing cost and outages,” said Mark Lancaster, Director, Intelligent Grid & Energy Solutions for Southwire Company.

The Southwire Insulator Monitoring System consists of several parts.

RF Sensors

Wireless sensors that measure the leakage current across the insulator and transmit the data to a base station using 2.4 GHz 802.15.4 compliant wireless. These sensors were developed and tested by EPRI in numerous installations over the course of eight years. The sensors come in two configurations, for post-type and line insulators, and work on glass, ceramic and polymer materials, both coated and uncoated.

Base station

The base station aggregates and records sensor and weather data, and then transmits that data to a customer-specified control system (SCADA) or Southwire hosted monitoring system. Multiple communication methods can be provided, including cellular, satellite or direct wired Ethernet or DNP3 to the Utility SCADA system.

Southwire Information Management System

The heart of the system is the proprietary algorithms that interpret the data collected by the sensors. The algorithms and alarm thresholds are the result of hundreds of hours of laboratory and field testing. Southwire can provide full data monitoring and alarm notifications using our Southwire Information Management System, or work with a utility to license and integrate the algorithms into their own asset or condition based maintenance systems.