Cresatech - Products & Services for Power Utility Networks

By Chris Dodds on 19th February, 2016

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Cresatech - Products & Services for Power Utility Networks


Who Are Cresatech?

Cresatech focus is on developing low-cost technologies for ubiquitous rollout across the network, with a rapid return on investment.

Cresatech is working with power transmission and distribution companies in the U.S.A. and Europe to help address the safety and operational impacts of metal infrastructure theft in substations.

Cresatech is incorporated both in the USA and the UK with offices near Denver and London respectively.

Customer network deployments of Cresatech’s first product; CuTS® ZS/ZM, are taking place in both the UK and in a number of US states.

Cresatech works closely with power transmission and distribution companies to combat the impact of metal  grounding/earthing infrastructure damage and within substations.

Cresatech CuTS Technology & Power Utility Networks

Preventing Metal Theft And Mitigating Outages

Substation earthing or grounding removal can often go undetected for long periods, as invariably there is little impact on network operation until an imbalance or fault condition occurs.

However, grounding removal, can cause prolonged customer power losses, equipment and property damage and occasionally personnel injury or worse.   

Safety and service continuity are the key areas of concern upon grounding removal from substations.

Cresatech has developed CuTS® to detect removal of the grounding infrastructure on electrical substations.

Development of Cresatech CuTS® was started nearly three years ago, following discussion with power distribution companies. 

While there were multiple security-led technologies available, there was no solution that notified when substation site safety or service operations had been compromised due to the damage or removal of site grounding infrastructure

Cresatech CuTS® was funded by and developed in collaboration with transmission and distribution network operators in the US and the UK. The design brief agreed ensured that CuTS® ZS and ZM:

  • Detect removal of grounding infrastructure at both large and small substation sites

This was achieved by breaking down substation grounding infrastructure into monitoring zones: the larger the site, the more zones.

  • Produce minimal false event notifications

This was achieved through monitoring for change of inductance of the site grounding infrastructure, which provided the sensitivity required for detecting ground section removal, while also providing a reliable means of event detection.

No detectable signal is injected onto the grounding infrastructure to achieve this. (CuTS® sensor is patented in UK and US patent pending).

Through application of on board firmware filtering at the sensor output, site events such as switching, faults and other typical occurrences that cause variations on the ground infrastructure are filtered out.

The filtering recognises the definite but very slight step changes in inductance that occur upon grounding removal within the grounding zone monitored. Patents for this novel approach have been applied for.

  • Are straightforward to install on existing or new sites

In most cases, a typical distribution substation can be installed and operational in a day, while a transmission site could take up to two or three days.

Grounding zones require a maximum of two sense wires, minimising installation time and cost, with no special requirement on wire type. Installation can be carried out while the site remains live. Installation is carried out by the customer’s own engineers after training by Cresatech.

  • Do not compromise the operation of the grounding network

CuTS® was extensively tested in the UK and USA to ensure stability in the event of faults,lightning strikes and other GPR events.

  • Are difficult to circumvent and disable the monitor and its reporting.    

The main CuTS® unit is protected by tremble sensors and any interference with zones or monitoring wires activates the alarm. All communications, via built-in GSM wireless modem or SCADA, are secure.

  • Achieve strong return on Investment of asset deployment

Return on investment has been estimated using a risk-based approach to be around two to five years, based on savings in repair costs, staff costs, management time, network downtime, ancillary damage and the risk of injury.

Real World Application

Power transmission and distribution network operators utilise Cresatech CuTS® to provide notification of the theft or removal of substation grounding material as it is happening.

The notification that the Cresatech CuTS® system provides, ensures that the operator can initiate an engineering, security or other response before significant amounts of infrastructure have been removed, thereby minimising the exposure to safety risks or of service delivery being effected.

The way this essential intelligence is used depends on the nature and location of the substation. The primary benefits are to minimise damage to the substation and to allow any damage to be repaired before it causes resultant damage or failure of substation site equipment, off site collateral damage or possible injury to personnel.  

Cresatech CuTS® is primarily a device to assist the network operations team to maintain safety and service continuity.

A typical distribution substation will have some deterrence for entry such as fences and locks.  On larger sites, cameras and movement sensors can provide further deterrence once the perpetrator is on site, though effectiveness can vary depending on system and installation.

Once material is removed, use of marking systems (both visible and otherwise) can assist in catching the perpetrator. 

However, none of these security-led solutions provides warning of the safety or operational risks associated with the primary target of site copper theft; the grounding network. 

Cresatech CuTS® can be used to trigger security infrastructure such as audible alarms or cameras if required.

Installation of the system on an existing or new site is achieved without interruption to service or operation.

The minimal sense wire connections are made to the grounding infrastructure above ground, usually on the grounding wires that lead up from the grid.

The zone sense wire enable the Cresatech CuTS® zone card to monitor for the inductance changes which take place as grounding material is removed.

A CuTS® zone card is required for each monitoring zone on the substation. The Zone cards are housed in a CuTS® ZM chassis which is installed in the main equipment room and/or a switch cabinet.

Once the CuTS® system has been installed on a site, the operations team can know when a grounding removal/theft event is taking place and in most cases, within which zone. The CuTS® system has a built-in wireless modem as standard, which can be used to report any alerts.

It also enables communication of unit status and provides a means of remotely checking, maintaining and adjusting the unit configuration if required.

On larger sites, communication of the notification report or alarm, can be via the site SCADA system through the CuTS® make break alarm pair.

This is a simple event notification. This alarm pair can also be used as the trigger for on-site security devices for event confirmation if required.


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Category:  Earthing & Lightning Protection

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