Safety and reliability recognised at engineering awards

AusNet Services, formerly SP AusNet, was recognised at Victoria Engineering Excellence Awards for technologies developed to improve the safe and reliable supply of electricity.

The company’s low-voltage electricity network monitoring system was among the winning technologies for the company, with judges saying they were impressed with the analytical-based application’s ability to use smart meter network data – such as property voltage levels – to detect unsafe neutral connections from street powerlines into properties.

The system predicts future failures that can cause dangerous electric shocks to customers, with managing director Nino Ficca saying the company’s technology has identified and allowed the removal of nearly 1000 safety hazards that could have resulted in electric shocks to customers since 2013.

The second technology recognised at the awards, AusNet Services’ Distribution Feeder Automation (DFA), is a centralised autonomous real-time fault location, isolation and rerouting scheme that restores supply within 60 seconds to customer of a nearby fault.

During a storm event, the DFA technology automatically restored electricity supply to 11,500 customers in less than a minute, effectively halving the number of customers that were without power until powerline damage from fallen trees was repaired.

Winning highly commended in the product design and smart systems category, these technologies protect customers from electric shocks and automatically restores power supply after faults within a minute.

Mr Ficca said the technologies embody the company’s commitment to improving customer services through network modernisation.

“Previously, when a fault occurred, such as a tree falling over a powerline, the electricity supply would be disrupted along a large part of the powerline, affecting many customers,” he said.

“Now, the DFA technology instantly pinpoints the fault on the powerline and automatically operates remote-controlled switches to safely re-route the electricity supply around the fault to restore power to the majority of customers.

“The process is completed usually under a minute, radically reducing the unnecessary time customers were without power while crews physically patrolled the powerline to find and fix the fault.”