Dec 2017
Electricity Distribution
Linkbox Monitoring using Narrow Band IoT
Dec 2017
Dec 2019
SP Energy Networks, SP Distribution and SP Manweb
Andrew Mcdiarmid
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Network Innovation Allowance
ED - New technologies and commercial evolution, ED - Safety and health and environment
Comms & IT and LV & 11kV Networks
Project stages

To enable this proof of concept trail the following three stages are proposed:

- Stage 1: Development of low power sensor and communication

- Stage 2: Installation

- Stage 3: Monitoring and reporting

Stage 1: Development: Two key areas have been identified. Firstly the development of a sensor to collect key asset condition information, and secondly ensuring that communications can be made to enable the transfer of data.

  1. Sensor development – it has been identified that temperature is one of the key indicators of the condition and therefore will form the basis of this proof of concept. The development process will identify the ideal location to install the sensor on a variety of types and ages of link-boxes. This will ensure the sensor is fit for purpose and will not pose an increased risk to the effective operation of the asset or to employees or other stakeholders.

  2. Communication – some limited lab testing has already been completed- however testing to ensure that communication can pass from the link-boxes will be established, and the locations will be identified based on the IoT infrastructure currently being rolled out by Vodafone

Stage 2: Installation: The installation of the units will be covered in two stages.

  1. Limited rollout to 25 link-boxes to prove the communication work as required. This will allow an initial assessment of the design and installation procedures and inform stage 2.

  2. This stage will involve the installation on monitors on up 100 sites to enable a longer term evaluation of the system.

Stage 3: Monitoring and Reporting This stage will look at three aspects – [1] accuracy and location of temperature sensing [2] reporting of incidents and [3] usability of data feed. The reporting of the project will inform SPEN and UK DNOs on the viability of this solution and any further development required such as alternative sensors or installation requirements, to allow for its adoption or to inform a wider scale trial

The objectives of the project are as follows:

Stage 1: Develop an online monitoring system for Linkboxes which will be able to gather and transmit key asset health information using NB IoT communications. The solution will have to be low cost and low maintenance.

Stage 2: Develop an installation procedures for the monitors which does not adversely impact the assets or result in increased risk for employees or members of the public.

Stage 3: Monitor the proof of concept trial over an extended period of time to gather information and make recommendations on the solution.


The project will be consider a success if the learning provides the required level of information to make an informed decision on the viability of the solution to become business as usual.