May 28, 2024

Con Edison demonstrates new MV cable splicing technology

Con Edison demonstrates new MV cable splicing technologyCon Edison demonstrates new MV cable splicing technology

Image: ULC Technologies

Con Edison of New York has partnered with robotics engineering company ULC Technologies to develop the new MV cable splicing machine.

The new machine is designed to automate the termination of medium voltage cables with improved repeatability and consistency while improving the safety of field workers by minimising exposure to high voltages.

In particular, the system is capable of performing complex operations on medium voltage feeder cables in underground vaults, where outages can occur during adverse weather conditions such as heat waves and storms, and thereby shorten overall feeder outage durations.

“At Con Edison worker safety is paramount. The technology used in this tool will enable our workers to splice high voltage cables, efficiently, uniformly and most importantly more safely,” said Patrick McHugh, senior vice president of Con Edison Electric Operations.

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“When you reduce the risk of performing thousands of splices each year, improve their accuracy and efficiency, it benefits workers, grid reliability, cost effectiveness and value. That’s a win, win, win for Con Edison, its workers, customers and the industry.”

The machine consists of several independent subsystems controlled through a centralised processing computer and user interface.

Ali Asmari, Director of Infrastructure Operations at ULC Technologies, describes its operation: “[The machine] can be secured onto the middle of an uncut cable in the field and uses electrical actuators to provide precise coordinated motion along the axial and circumferential directions, including continuous 360-degree operation.

“The machine’s tool plate consists of numerous tools capable of stripping back each layer of the cable to a desired dimension using precision tool depth controls.”

Tooling has been updated to improve the robustness and adaptability so different types of cables can be addressed faster, while auxiliary subsystems carry out additional steps such as shorting and cutting the cable.

This, in combination with live camera feeds, allows an operator to monitor and verify the process from beginning to end from outside the manhole with no physical human intervention.

In field trials earlier in the year, after the splicers lowered the machine into the structure and then inserted the cable inside the machine, it completed three autonomous operations to prepare the cable in approximately 25 to 30 minutes per each phase of the medium voltage cable.

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