Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS


LightningPro Report Summary

Project ID: 729057

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - LightningPro (Lightning inhibition for protection of urban soft targets and critical infrastructure against lightning strikes.)

Reporting period: 2016-07-01 to 2016-12-31

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

Today’s digital economy relies on fast and reliable telecommunications networks. Such telecommunication towers are obvious and known targets for lightning strike damage, which has caused significant service downtime over the years. Therefore, protecting communications and meteorological towers should not be an option, but a necessity.
We have identified a promising opportunity to introduce Prototal’s BARRIER product into the telecom tower market as major players are currently planning infrastructure upgrades for the upcoming 5G rollout estimated to launch in large scale through 2019 and finalised in 2025. Even before this period (with 4.5 and 4.9G equipment, plus some pre-commercial 5G equipment), old towers will be upgraded and new towers will be built, thus providing the ideal time to install lightning protection solutions taking advantage of already deployed installation crews. Prototal will be closely following these developments and during 2017 we plan to continue developing our relationships with key decision makers within TowerCos with the aim of introducing our product into the tower specifications currently being developed.
“ TowerCos” – must ensure that towers are free from lightning strikes if they want to avoid damage to equipment and downtime which can lead to customer churn. The sector is currently developing pilot tests and proofs-of-concept as they begin to define their equipment requirements for new 5G cell towers. Initial infrastructure upgrades will occur in cities and urban areas. Most European countries will have a formalised standard for 5G in place by 2018 which will outline key infrastructure specifications and upgrades. In parrallel the industry is working on upgrades to the current 4G (LTE) infrastructure to prepare it for easier 5G upgrading. As tower upgrades and new towers are commissioned, we continue to see a large interest and excellent reaction for BARRIER from the telecom tower industry.
Another related customer segment that we will target with the BARRIER product is meteorological towers that provide critical information. Prototal has protected many meteorological towers at airports (Santiago de Compostela) and; in wind farms: GAMESA (Navarra, Spain), La Sia (Cantabria, Spain) and GAS NATURAL EÓLICA (Zalama, Spain).
On the other hand, every year, more than 350.000 incidents caused by lightning strikes are reported to insurance companies in Spain. Moreover, lightning causes 1,6 casualties per million inhabitants every year. Affected people and companies are clear targets to acquire a BARRIER Lightning Rod
The overall objectives of the Project are detailed as follows:
1. To eradicate the problems of Telecom Towers owners from lightning strikes and its consequences
2. To convert the Prototal® technology in the market Standard and to lead the sector of Lightning Protection
3. To secure yearly recurring revenues above 16M€ by 2022.
4. To increase net profit margin commensurate with sales.

We have validated the economic and practical viability of our BARRIER product by gathering detailed feedback from our customers and other key stakeholders confirming that our product has the potential for offering premium protection and a longer useful life compared to current solutions in the market, particularly in the Telecom Towers sector where we have identified massive demand. Additionally, potential customers consider our inital price point of 3,350€ to be reasonable commenting that BARRIER offers superior value for money compared to the competition. We have also enhanced BARRIER’s technical feasibility by testing its durability, as well as modifying its design and materials to be more weather resistant. Thus, we shall continue to pursue market readiness for the BARRIER product.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

We have thoroughly investigated the primary European target markets for our new BARRIER lightning protection product and investigated wider global markets. We have tested the technical feasibility, economic and practical viability of our technology via design improvements, independent testing and qualitative stakeholder interviews. We have also taken steps to further protect our patented technology and IP, setting the foundation for a sustainable competitive advantage.
Technical Feasibility
Deep study of the technical characteristics of our product as well as a big-data statistic analysis of lightnings on our products in comparison with conventional lightning rods. Result: 3 technical improvements were defined. Further statistic analysis is needed to come to definitive conclusions.
1) The electric resistance, the inductance and the capacitance of PROTOTAL’s samples, were measured with the aim to set the standard value of each characteristic.
RESULT SUMMARY: The variation between Prototal product samples was negligible.
2) Statistical Study with the aim to demonstrate whether or not PROTOTAL’s products have had an influence over lightning strike distribution or frequency. Historical data from 2010 to 2015 was analysed. Data was provided by SMC (Servei Meteorològic de Catalunya).
RESULT SUMMARY: Using MATLAB as a data processor, the analysis was approached in two different ways:
A. Accounting for the number of lightning strikes, its polarity and average current (both positive and negative cases).
Conclusion: No conclusive result could be obtained due to the characteristics of the data studied: Data did not have enough precision; there was a High variance of the lightning strikes between different years and periods of of the same year (no. of storms per year, air ionization, humidity levels, etc); Only 6 years were able to be studied, which is not a long enough time range in order to find a pattern
B. Taking into account the ellipses that contained a specific point, and giving a probability factor relating the distance of this point to the centre of each ellipse.
Conclusion: No conclusive result could be obtained, due to same results as 1. Also, due to the error that the sensors measure, it is very difficult to detect a pattern produced by the PROTOTAL product effect, particularily as the expected effect has a smaller dimension than the measurement error.

3) Additionally, the BARRIER product has been certified by Bureau Veritas who has completed field work on 4 sites during 6 months with zero lightning strikes.
Economic and Practical Feasibility
We conducted an action to identify the top horizontal industrial sectors that would be most susceptible to the purchase of a lightning protection device. Result: the priority sector to investigate the market size and then generate a Pro-active sales penetration strategy for the next 5 years for our company should be the Telecommunications Towers sector.
We have confirmed that there is strong market pull for the BARRIER product in the Telecom Tower sector, which is now our primary target sector. We have also detected secondary routes to market through Insurance Companies, as well as through the Electrical Grid and Transportation Infrastructure sectors, that we will approach in a later phase.

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

The industry of lightning protection has focused mainly on Collecting Technologies, which aim to attract the srike. On the other hand, Preventing Technologies (which disrupt the lightning formation process) emerge slowly because their effectiveness is difficult to reproduce precisely in a lab. Although in the field Preventing Technology has proven effective and its user-community widely accepts and supports it.

Our BARRIER product competes with both conventional lightning rods (Collecting Technologies) and Preventing Technologies. Whilst the former have generally cheaper price points, they expose the building or assets to a certain amount of risk as they attract lightning strikes. However, our product lowers the probability of a strike and protect therewith from electromagnetic induction caused by a it, virtually eliminating the risk of injuries to people and damages to electronic devices.

Our strategy for the next years is to capitalize on the Telecom Tower opportunity, initially targeting the EU market reaching 5.3M€ in sales by 2020, and then aggressively ramp worldwide sales which we expect to reach 16.8M€ and 5,240 Telecom Towers protected (accumulated) by 2022.

Related information

Record Number: 198083 / Last updated on: 2017-05-16