COLUMBUS, OH--(Marketwired - Oct 28, 2016) - The University of Akron and Exacter, Inc. of Columbus, Ohio are completing year 2 of their $3 million dollar, 5-year grant to develop smart sensors for detecting problematic conditions on the US power grid. The research and product development teams are designing unique sensors for identifying a number of reliability-threatening conditions including: tower instability, deteriorated energized equipment, nearby gunshots, vandalism, extreme weather and wind, and solar flares. The project is being guided by a 25 utility board of advisors that meet monthly to prioritize and review efforts.
"Our collaboration with the University of Akron team is an extension of work we have been doing in the utility industry since 2006," states Exacter CEO, John Lauletta. "Some of our patented sensing technologies and analytics that are currently helping the industry with new predictive models for grid management are being used and expanded to detect threats to grid reliability that were identified by our utility industry collaborators."
The project is creating sensors that identify ten different factors that impact transmission, distribution and underground utility reliability. Engineers are developing edge-computing algorithms that translate field conditions into meaningful predictive and conditions-based, actionable information. In addition, the sensors are being equipped with the ability to form an information network that will communicate alerts to utility SCADA and maintenance systems, providing the specific location of the threatening conditions.
"We have some of the brightest minds from around the world working on this project," states Dr. Jose Alexis De Abreu-Garcia, University of Akron Professor and Product Development Director for the project. "The collaboration with Exacter and our investor-owned utility partners is guiding our team to provide the features and data that will be truly useful for improving grid reliability."
While there are plenty of sensors being used by utilities, what makes these sensors unique is that they are Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) sensors that interact with their environments and each other and communicate actionable maintenance information back to the utility. Each sensor being developed will provide insight the utility has no way of obtaining unless they visit each asset individually and perform an inspection. "They're smart sensors, forming an interactive network that will identify threats and risks that until now, have been impossible to monitor -- and certainly not in real time," concluded Lauletta.
Elements of the sensor functionality will be ready for field testing in Q1 of 2017. If you would like to partner in the development and evaluation of this technology, please contact John Lauletta at firstname.lastname@example.org or 614-880-9320. Utility partners will have first access to the IIoT sensors and technologies.