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An intelligent inspection system for improved and efficient power line cable maintenance

Periodic Reporting for period 3 - Intel-Line (An intelligent inspection system for improved and efficient power line cable maintenance)

Reporting period: 2019-04-01 to 2019-09-30

The Intel-line project has been funded by the European Union under the ‘Fast Track to Innovation (FTI) - Pilot Innovation Actions’ programme.
The objective of Intel-Line was to take the technology for non-destructive ultrasonic inspection & monitoring of high voltage electric power cables developed jointly between Plant Integrity Ltd, and Brunel Innovation Centre to a commercially viable product by further improving the hardware, the software (including its control, display and reporting features), the collar and the encapsulation with an utmost efforts and collaboration with the project partners of:

- Nesne Electronic Ltd (Turkey)
- Plant Integrity Ltd - PIL (UK)
- Brunel University -BIC (UK)
- Montage Cablage Installation (MCI) (France)

The partners successfully completed the project at September 30th, 2019 and established an intelligent inspection system for improved and efficient power line cable maintenance.

The project results that were achieved:
-Providing a permanent installed Structural Health Monitoring solution for transmission line, safer than existing inspection techniques
-Use Ultrasonic Guided Waves (UGW) to inspect all High Voltage electrical cables.
-Quick, easy to setup, and cost-effective solution to inspect cables.
-Real time Condition Monitoring (CM) of cables
-No helicopters and skilled personnel required during the inspection besides the initial installation of the product
-Replace unreliable periodic visual inspection
-Enable more regular maintenance schedules which in turn, will reduce costs associated with unnecessary maintenance and unexpected breakdowns
-Reduce the risk of catastrophic failures
-Provide valuable data that helps linking the degradation of the cables to local environmental conditions or use of the cable or simple aging

This project will have a significant positive impact on the power industry as it will enable the industry performing condition-based maintenance, to reduce the operation and maintenance costs, to improve safety by reducing or eliminating helicopter line inspection and to improve the quality of visual inspection practices commonly used today. This will ultimately support the power companies towards having a sustainable electricity supply to vast number of customers in major industries as well as households in cities.
The improvements on the hardware and software was carried out based on the outcome from previous projects. Modifications on the system components i.e. clamps, transducers and signal processing algorithms were performed in order to improve the defect detection resolution.
Mainly, upgrading the ultrasonic functionality of the transducers, electronics (the pulse receiver, power supply, energy harvesting system) to optimize the excitation of the guided waves in multi-wire cables, software and user interface design, clamp assembly and mechanism to reduce the fitting time from 30 minutes to less than 5 minutes, and the encapsulation of the system to a more robust enclosure were successfully realized.

The consortium achieved a significant project milestone, by testing the Intel-line system under significant high voltage (up to 400kV) and lightning impulses (up 1200kV). The tests were successful, and the results demonstrated that the system is suitable for high voltage applications. The system kept operating during and post high voltage testing.

For the purpose of introducing the system and implementing the dissemination and exploitation strategy plan, the consortium attended to the conferences, exhibitions and started to strengthen the stakeholders’ network of the Intel-line system. Major electricity transmission/grid companies, solar energy and inspection SMEs which has the significant position in the market has been contacted.
Furthermore, all the scheduled demonstrations were carried out successfully to the industrial leading companies in Turkey, France and United Kingdom.

Even though the project duration is completed, the consortium has planned further demonstration and dissemination activities to continue introducing the product in Europe and to explore the export possibilities in America, Europe and Asia where they have already contacted some of the major companies.
For the efficient management of the project, one kick-off meeting and 7 quarterly progress meetings were held by the consortium on a regular intervals of 3-4 months time. Apart from the face to face meetings, weekly and monthly conference call meetings were held among work package leaders and relevant partners.
The current inspection techniques require a heavy workload and present dangers for technicians. In addition, the visual and thermographic inspection tasks become more challenging when it comes to inspect power lines that are visually inaccessible due to either their location or weather conditions. Furthermore, conventional ultrasonic testing is based on localised inspection (i.e. suitable for short range inspection) where only the area directly underneath the transducer can be inspected. This requires de-energising the power line cable, which is undesirable from both the customers’ and suppliers’ perspectives. Finally, there are some critical damage specifications, such as the internal corrosion of steel reinforced aluminium conductors that cannot be detected using current techniques.

Intel-Line overcomes these limitations with current inspection technologies by adopting a novel NDT technique based on long range ultrasonic guided waves.

The overall objectives and expected results of this project are to enhance and commercialise Intel-Line - an automatic, self-powering inspection system using long range ultrasonic guided waves to identify cable faults and provide a structural health monitoring system to the network power industries.
The socio-economic impacts of the Intel-line system can be summarized as follows:

-Removes hazard; increased health and safety for inspection teams
-Provides robust maintenance and inspection schedules using structural health monitoring
-Identifies potential problems – reducing outages and power drops across network
-No de-energising of cables for inspection and monitoring
-Energy harvesting – sustainable and clean power supply
-Reduction in helicopter inspection – less fuel and CO2 used
Intel-line product
Intel-line Brochure
The prototype of the Intel-line product on the cable
Two of the Intel-line quarterly meetings
Participation to the Conference
Intel-line demonstration