Utility Week

UTILITY Week 5th February 2016

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16 | 5TH - 11TH FEBRUARY 2016 | UTILITY WEEK Game changer /Technology/Innovation Smooth operator CNIguard's smart sensoring system can provide an early warning of impending infrastructure failure, helping utilities to limit disruption to customers. Mathew Beech reports. Operations & Assets "You have a machine making a decision, to a high level of reliability, on its own in the field, removing the delay of a sensor alarm being analysed at an operation centre." T he battering the energy and water networks suf- fered at the end of last year at the hands of storms Desmond, Eva and Frank served as a reminder that, despite utilities' best intentions, there will be cir- cumstances in which customers will be cut off and face disruption. However, away from the worst the winter weather has to offer, the electricity, gas and water companies aim to keep the essential services for modern life running. They are duty bound by the regulators to do so, and incur pen- alties if their service standards fall too low. It is here that CNIguard, with its Sensorcore system, aims to provide a helping hand – keeping the custom- ers content and the utilities receiving rewards from the regulators. With offices in the UK and the USA, CNIguard is plan- ning to expand into markets either side of the Atlantic with its smart sensoring system. Chief executive Edward Klinger emphasises the differ- ences between his company's offering and those of big- ger name rivals. "We distinguish between sensors – of which there are many on the market, and it is usually high- quality stuff from the likes of Siemens and Honeywell – and sensoring," he says. "The latter is the act of using the sensors in combina- tion with soware in order to deliver a certain outcome or action." This in effect means that rather than simply detect- ing a problem, the Sensorcore system will then act auto- matically – for example, shutting off power lines if they have been struck by a foreign object, such as a tree or a crane. Subtler issues would also be detected and give the distribution network operators the opportunity to pre- vent customer outages – important when a proportion of their revenue is at stake for the number of customer outages and customer minutes lost (see box). This could involve monitoring the degree of power line sag and even the tilt of the pole holding the cables. "You can monitor to see how much tilt there is, or if the pole has rotted beyond safe levels," Klinger adds. "This will allow companies to manage costs and conduct 'just in time' maintenance to improve service levels." And it's not only in the day-to-day running and main- tenance aspect where Klinger says CNIguard has been helping utilities in the USA, the UK and Europe (see box), but also in tackling vandalism and the. This is what you would expect from a company with CNIguard's "high-security background", which has seen it work closely with the Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure and employ staff with experience at GCHQ. "The extension into a more operational environment is a very natural one. In a utility you are looking aer security and this is closely aligned with safety issues, environmental issues and quality of service," Klinger says. The smart sensoring system can be used to monitor "remote and hostile" assets, which may be attractive tar- gets to vandals, thieves and even terrorists, according to the chief executive. The critical point of the sensoring system – as alluded to earlier – is not the sensors themselves. Klinger explains other sensors that have been tried and installed can have "99 per cent false alarm rates", resulting in Edward Klinger, chief executive, CNIguard

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