Electricity distribution operators and technicians conduct their work in among the most naturally hazardous environments.
Whilst improvements in workplace health and safety, training and culture abound, opportunities to improve the safety of operators from a technical mitigation standpoint can provide further guard rails for gaps in primary tactics.
For operators of electrical equipment such as distribution circuit breakers, sectionalisers or load break switches, traditional local operation of this plant demanded physical contact with the asset. Conventional hazard assessments consider the risk profile of the activity, but for distribution assets which may be installed at height or remotely, access presents a significant risk. Oftentimes, interrogation of the asset occurs in adverse conditions, where environmental conditions or adverse weather causes equipment failure or faults pending investigation.
Aside from environmental hazard factors, theft of earthing conductors can leave distributed pole mounted assets inadequately protected. If a primary side surge arrestor fails closed-circuit, the absence of an earth removes the immediate fault path but energises the control system to system voltage. This highly hazardous scenario highlights the value of visual inspection of the equipment prior to operation – not always an easy task at night or in untoward weather.
However, the solution to mitigate this risk is to instigate an air-gap – what if interrogation and operation can be conducted without physical contact with the equipment? NOJA Power’s OSM Recloser system is an example of this form of asset – a circuit breaker operating from 15kV to 38kV combined with an LV control cubicle integrating protection, automation and communications, but the OSM Recloser system also offers a mobile application for local interrogation of the device without needing physical contact with the asset.
NOJA Power’s Recloser Mobile App allows operators to use a trusted mobile device to securely login to a Recloser Controller for local interrogation, offering the same functionality as the local HMI panel but with the added benefit of wireless operation. The app provides users with a method to read system analogues, switch in protection features or even operate the breaker at a safe distance. This capability provides a technical mitigation for a hazardous environment – an ideal complement for front line OH&S practices for guaranteeing operator safety.
The NOJA Power Mobile App uses a proprietary protocol over an IP communications link to communicate with a NOJA Power RC controller with the remote engineering feature enabled. For connectivity, a standard NOJA Power RC10 controller can be equipped with a wireless router, or alternatively, the uprated NOJA Power RC15 is equipped with native WiFi, GPS and 4G communications to achieve the same outcome in an integrated package.
“Our NOJA Power Recloser App, downloadable from the Apple or Google stores, allows plug and play local and remote control of our range of products as still is the first of its kind available in the world today” says NOJA Power Group managing director Neil O’Sullivan. “We have many customers now using it to improve the safety of their line crews and enable remote control from anywhere.”
NOJA Power is committed to innovation in safety for electrical switchgear, and the NOJA Power Recloser app is the ideal method for mitigating the risk of manual operation of electrical equipment. Adverse conditions no longer provide a multiplier effect to risk for field personnel, as they can safely interrogate the Recloser Controller from their vehicle.
To find out more, visit www.nojapower.com.au or contact your local NOJA Power Distributor.