Smart Street Lighting

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The Challenge

The monitoring and control of street lights has become increasingly common in the UK owing to the move towards electricity metering demanded by new regulation and the rising cost of energy.

A major initiative to replace street lights across the country has presented the opportunity to introduce smarter street lighting and this forms an important part of local authorities’ aims to embrace the environmental “green agenda”.

The Approach

The solution involved sensing the voltage and current in the lamp unit and deriving the power factor. The power factor is important as it indicates the “health” of the lamp; a falling lamp will have a high power factor.

This information is then transmitted to a base station, which sends commands to the streetlights to switch on/off or dim. The base station itself contains sensors, to monitor light levels and the local radio interference environment.

Furthermore, the system described here predicts lamp failure and allows planned preventative maintenance, saving significant costs.

The Outcome

Plextek’s solution allows street lights to be “trimmed and dimmed”, i.e. to be turned on and off accurately depending on the day of the year or to be dimmed depending on ambient light conditions.

The system allows groups of lights to be independently controlled so, for example, lights near a school can be brighter or on for longer to improve road safety. Likewise, lights can be turned on to deter crime or illuminate an incident attended by the emergency services.

Our client for this project is now a UK market leader in street light management with over one million street light units deployed. Local authorities, who have become early adopters, are already showing large energy cost savings.

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Sensor Monitoring of Manhole Infrastructures

Home » Case Study » Smart Cities

The Challenge

In America’s biggest cities hundreds of service manholes catch fire or explode every year.

Manhole explosions can occur when underground electrical wires are damaged, causing sparks that ignite surrounding gases. This is caused primarily by bad weather and flooding interacting with aging power infrastructures.

To protect the people from these risks, our client wanted a system that could detect and transmit early warnings about sites before reaching critical state so preventative action could be taken.

The Approach

Plextek supported the design and manufacturing of a sensor array capable of operating in this harsh environment.

This included a novel power harvesting input to extend the sensor lifespan using locally available “free” energy sources.

To enable the client to quickly deploy the product into the market, we worked to a reduced timescale in delivering a fully functioning working prototype and software interface.

The Outcome

Our solution utilises a range of environmental sensors to detect and monitor the conditions of infrastructural systems so maintenance can be carried out.

The system prevents and mitigates the risk of gas explosions, stray voltage, flooding and other breaches of safety, environmental and quality control regulation.

Positively received by our client, Plextek are now working with them to refine the current design for high volume production.

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