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Lucy Switchgear - meeting the telemetry needs for power supply automation in Ghana, Africa

Issue:

The Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) needed to reduce customer outages and maintenance costs across its electrical grid network. ECG partnered with Lucy Switchgear to deliver a major upgrade to the electrical grid infrastructure, starting with the capital city Accra, before rolling out the project across the rest of the country.

Lucy Switchgear’s upgrade meant the installation of automation hardware on the network; ensuring that when an outage took place, power would be automatically redirected, minimising disruption.

Ghana is a country of uncompromising geography. A hot and humid atmosphere combines with large areas of mountain and jungle terrain. The automation hardware needed to be rugged, robust and requiring minimum maintenance.

Lucy Switchgear turned to Wood & Douglas to provide radio data communications from the automation hardware back to control centres housed within each of eight separate districts within the country. The radio links would provide information on the location of power outages as they happened.

Lucy Switchgear chose Wood & Douglas’ Sentinel ER450 UHF radio modems to provide the wireless links for three main reasons:

  • The ER450 specification made it ideal to be used in hot and humid conditions
  • The modem could store and forward messages, enabling Lucy Switchgear to send and receive data to the most remote hardware via a series of ‘hops’ from one radio to the next
  • The ER450 delivered a complete onboard diagnostic and management package. Should anything go wrong, the modem would adjust itself or call for maintenance

Wood & Douglas’ team of wireless designers and engineers created the system in the UK, providing a ‘ready-to-go’ installation for Ghana. This enabled service roll out to take place quickly and efficiently.

The ER450 modems enabled Lucy Switchgear to identify issues in the supply of electrical power quickly. This has two immediate benefits: Lucy Switchgear could quickly switch the supply of power via another route, reducing power downtime and localising a fault to a smaller number of people. Secondly, maintenance engineers knew immediately where a fault was located. These combined benefits significantly reduce the scale and length of power failures.

Quote:

“The general level of co-operation from Wood & Douglas has been great. It is a huge logistical challenge to pre-engineer a system on the back of extensive radio surveys. Yet, despite the extremes, deploying UHF telemetry with the Sentinel ER450s delivers tremendous flexibility in the field, and ultimately that saves a huge amount of time and money for the electricity company, which is absolutely what automation should be about.”

Bill Carlyle, Business Development Manager (Automation), Lucy Switchgear

It is our aim to never promise what we cannot deliver.