In mid-2019, an Australian designed and manufactured Early Fault Detection (EFD) system completed a two-year trial on 160 miles of rural powerlines in Victoria after demonstrating clear fire safety benefits. The EFD Trial was a government/industry partnership and despite the limited scope and duration, the EFD system identified four previously undetected situations of very high potential fire-risk in very high fire-consequence locations. EFD technology is now being trialed on further networks in Australia, Hong Kong and California and is being rolled out on two major networks in Victoria. EFD continuously monitors powerline networks for incipient faults, asset deterioration and asset compromise (e.g. through vegetation encroachment). It is built on IoT architecture with geographically distributed smart sensors doing edge-computing. Central cloud-based servers do big-data analysis and machine learning. Network owners access results through an intuitive map-based web portal or download data for detailed off-line investigation. The system provides real-time alerts of risk situations well in advance of equipment failure or faults. It detects incipient faults with extreme sensitivity and locates them to within ten yards. EFD has a proven track record in detection of vegetation touches, broken conductor strands, conductor slap, tracking on cross-arms and poles, polluted and damaged insulators, and in-tank transformer discharge. Results in US trials continue to demonstrate EFD’s fire-risk benefits. EFD not only monitors high-voltage primary circuits, it also ‘sees through the transformer’ to find risk situations on secondary service lines as well.
Tony Marxsen, Chairman of IND Technology Inc.
Prof. Tony Marxsen has worked in the energy sector for decades, much of that time in network businesses. Tony was lead researcher in Victoria’s R&D to cut wildfire risk from powerlines after the Black Saturday fires. He now advises utilities and governments on that issue.