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New Scanners Offer Global Informed Deferred Asset

New Scanners Offer Global Informed Deferred Asset Renewal & Non Destructive Evaluation Of Wooden Power Poles

AUCKLAND, Wednesday 20 February, 2002 - Celsius Technology, a New Zealand based electronics and software consulting company, has developed a wireless, mobile testing device the SB 700 Scanners. It is an integral part of the WoodScanT solution from Foley International Limited (FIL), an infrastructure asset management company, which maps out the level of decay and damaged areas of a wooden power pole through the use of ultrasound technology. The solution has the potential to save power companies millions through informed deferred asset renewal compared to current practices.

WoodScan is unique in that it is accurate, non-invasive and has been independently recognised as the best performing system in an international study by the Electricity Association of New South Wales and University of Technology in Sydney.

The SB 700 Scanners developed by Celsius Technology consist of two 45mm by 232mm probes that transmit an ultrasound pulse and take 360-degree readings. The data captured is entered into a handheld computer, which gives a readout of the pole's condition right in the field. The test take 5 minutes to conduct and informs the field worker of residential strength of the pole. It provides a picture of where the decay is and allows the workers to make decisions such as whether the pole is hazardous and needs immediate engineer's attention or needs to be treated with preservative. The first line of SB 700 Scanners has been produced this month for clients in Australia and New Zealand.

Globally power companies are looking to more effectively manage wooden utility poles. The cost of management, maintenance and replacement of wooden utility poles around the world is billions. In New Zealand there are 800,000 poles and 5.5 million in Australia, which are designed to last 10 to 15 years, but varying environmental conditions can alter this lifespan. Countries such as Australia have regulations in place that call for the inspection of power poles every five years.

"In New Zealand many poles are reaching the 50-60 year age so it critical to know which ones are reaching dangerous decay levels. At two to three thousand dollars to replace it's a considerable expense," says Dr Bruce Maunder, Co-Founder of Celsius Technology. "80,000 power poles have been tested with WoodScan and on average we found that of the poles that are supposedly reaching the end of their lives, only one in 10 needed to be replaced."

In August 2001 Vector, Auckland's electricity network, tested 220 poles that had been condemned using other test methods. With WoodScan, 70 were detected as being to the point of replacement, therefore 150 poles would have been unnecessarily replaced. Vector has adopted WoodScan network-wide for all hardwood poles and set into place policies for testing, inspection, and replacement for its contractors to comply with.

It has been a six-year project for Celsius Technology to develop and refine the SB series scanner. The software component was developed in house by FIL. "Celsius Technology are innovative, creative thinkers and address problems from a technical and business viewpoint, which adds significant value says Bob Sadler, Director, Foley International Limited.

"The concept of ultrasound to scan across wooden structures and capture the data is non-evasive and more accurate compared to a variety of techniques presently being employed." The most common practice involves drilling into the pole at ground level, pulling out the core and then examining the condition of the sample. There are several limitations to this method of testing which are:

a) Is a subjective test so accuracy and reliability varies

b) Is a destructive, invasive process which could shorten the life span of the pole

c) Can be a possible threat to line workers safety if the pole is at the end of its life

Non Destructive Evaluations (NDE) project

The Electricity Association of New South Wales recognised that its current practice of drilling holes was destructive and conducted a two million dollar project with the University of Technology in Sydney. Twenty five companies around the world tendered to test their technologies. The objective of the Non Destructive Evaluations (NDE) project was to determine the accuracy of different systems for identifying internal decay of wooden power poles and relating this to residual strength. The results released in September 2001 show that WoodScan was significantly better than current best practice and was judged the most accurate and cost effective system.

Future Potential

Discussions are being held with all major electricity distribution and telecommunication companies in Australia and New Zealand. FIL and Celsius Technology view New Zealand and Australia as the ideal test markets with their size, both countries being early adopters of innovation and intense competitive environments. With the results of the NDE project published, the work of Celsius Technology and FIL is being recognised worldwide. There is global market to have WoodScan accepted as best practice. In the US alone there's between 150 and 200 million wooden power poles and regulations in place to have them tested.

WoodScan has a potential market outside of the utility industry. The technology can be applied to assess the condition of any wooden structures, or structures on wood, be it houses to bridges. Interest has been expressed from local authorities and councils.

About Celsius Technology Limited

Celsius Technology is a New Zealand based electronics and software consulting company who develop embedded system applications that require specialist technical input.. Its team of engineers and software designers manage technology projects, from low-level research through to prototype development and system integration. For further information please view:


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