May 2017
Electricity Distribution
Pole Current Indicator
May 2017
Nov 2018
UK Power Networks, Eastern Power Networks and South Eastern Power Networks
Matthew Reeves (, Ian Cooper (
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Network Innovation Allowance
Health and Safety, Asset Management, Conductors, Maintenance & Inspection and Condition Monitoring
The scope of this project is to develop and demonstrate a device that will be able to identify those poles (and infrastructure) that have had or are in the process of having a breakdown in insulation, which is leading to a leakage of current. The principle behind the device has been proven in a laboratory, and this project aims to build upon this to develop a device which can be used in the field.

It is applicable to all GB DNOs as well as some transmission assets; transmission wooden poles and towers.

This project will address various issues that can occur when there is an insulation failure namely:

  • Health and Safety issues due to electric shock;

  • Quality of supply due to failure of insulation being a precursor to a permanent fault; and

  • Network losses.

The confidence on this stems from the fact that a prototype working under simulated live running operating conditions has successfully demonstrated that the concept and principles work as predicted. Equally, the field trial stage will further refine the unit through iteration and provision, for this has been made in the overall project spend.

The project will be split into three stages:

  • Stage 1 (Product readiness): The main objectives of this phase will be to complete the Research and Development on differing pole make up and produce the prototype Tags.

  • Stage 2 (Manufacture Readiness and Handheld Diagnostic Instrument): The main objective of this phase will be to produce the handheld diagnostic instrument which shall be capable of interrogating a TST device and downloading or viewing historical fault data.

  • Stage 3 (Field trials): The main objective of this phase will be to carry out field trials in both training and operational environments.

At the end of the Project, DNOs will have a product that when affixed to a pole will give historical and real time indicators of earth current leakage. This will inform DNO staff of the environment into which they are entering prior to undertaking work on the pole.

At the same time, DNOs will have a facility whereby they can communicate with the general public through a process of education, that should the indicator be illuminated, it is clear at the outset that the pole has been or is hazardous and should not be touched but reported for assessment by the DNO instead.

The project will be deemed successful if the following are met;

  • Design, manufacture and testing of initial TST device

  • Design and manufacture of Handheld Diagnostic Instrument

  • Successful field trials so as to promote adoption by all DNOs