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Northern Powergrid unveils ‘game-changing’ predictive fault detection project

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Distribution network operator (DNO) Northern Powergrid has unveiled a predictive fault detection project which it says could be a game-changer for network operators. 

The £4 million ‘Foresight’ fault detection software has been in development for around a year and, unveiling the project at the Low Carbon Networks and Innovation conference earlier this week, Northern Powergrid said the project was “progressing well”. 

The system enables engineers to predict where and when possible faults on the low voltage network are likely to occur, enabling them to intervene before customers are affected by outages. 

Iain Miller, head of innovation at Northern Powergrid, likened Foresight to an ECG scan looking for irregular heartbeats prior to a patient going into cardiac arrest.

“In our business plan, we promised to deliver more for less for our customers, including 20% shorter and 8% fewer power cuts by 2023. Identifying and stopping potential power cuts before they happen will help us deliver on this customer-focused ambition,” he said.

The DNO is nearing installation in areas of Teesside with North Yorkshire next on its agenda. Once the first phase is complete, Northern Powergrid is to interpret the data to identify the “fingerprint” of a future fault. It expects the project to complete in early 2020.

Rebecca Kelly, who’s leading the project, said Foresight stood to bring about “significant benefits for every customer in our region”.

“A greater understanding of fault types will support a radical change in our approach to replacement works and will improve network reliability, efficiency and maintenance programmes, which will benefit our customers and result in less physical disruption on the network and roads. 

“If we can fix faults in advance, we will keep the power flowing to all of our customers and not only play our part in resource conservation by saving materials, but minimise digging up roads and causing traffic disruption for local businesses and householders,” she said.


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