Innovation for Power Lines

Power lines marked with “balloons” to be more visible

They’re relatively small but they solve major problems and eliminate potential hazards. Smart people with solid industry knowledge at Omexom Norway have developed a product as simple as it is ingenious. Per-Arne Hauglund and Pål Hystad’s magnetic bars are literally being noticed throughout the energy industry.

Power lines can create problems for aviation. In elongated Norway, most energy is transported just that way. Power lines have to traverse mountains, forests, fjords and moors. Long spans, for example across fjords, have been marked with “balloons” on the power lines themselves.

As part of improving safety for aviation, the Civil Aviation Authority of Norway introduced in the “Regulations relating to Marking of Aviation Obstacles” a requirement to mark the masts themselves as well. The marking must be visible at a distance of at least 1,500 meters in daylight from all approach angles involved.

Masts were previously marked with reflective metal signs.

“They can be heavy to transport up the mast and have to be fastened mechanically. In short, it takes a long time, and the signs can constitute a hazard if they fall down, because of their weight,” says project engineer Per-Arne Hauglund at Omexom Norway.

Together with colleague Pål Hystad at Omexom’s mechanical workshop, Hauglund started the job by hatching the idea for an improved marking product that is easier and lighter.

“Statnett announced an idea competition in 2016. That gave us the initiative to get going with our idea of a simpler solution in plastic, based on magnets that are also more installation-friendly. It saves time, and it is not a conductive material like metal marking signs. Others in the market have also experimented with marking products using tape as an attachment device – with little success because of moisture and the long installation time,” explains Hauglund.

In order to develop the idea and the product, Hauglund and Hystad used local skills and knowledge in Østfold County. Espen Auensen at Eker Design has been involved in the design and has helped with 3D-visualisation of drainage channels on the back of the marking bars, in order to get rid of water from condensation.

The product is cast and mounted locally in Østfold in Easter Norway.

Omexom Norway’s magnetic bars have been through comprehensive tests in order to meet the requirement specification prepared by Statnett.

“The magnetic bars have been tested in a climate chamber with respect to UV, heat, cold and moisture. They have also been tested in a wind tunnel for a wind force of more than 50 metres a second. Everything in order to satisfy the lifespan requirement,” says Per-Arne Hauglund.

Omexom Norway is in the process of delivering approximately 10,000 marking bars to various grid owners.

The magnetic bars satisfy environmental and recycling requirements. Statnett prepared the requirement specification.

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