Category three – Best solution to an identified electrical issue
Protective is an Australian technology company that designs, engineers, manufactures and supplies protective equipment for electrical hazard identification and accident prevention. With exposure to live overhead powerlines posing a significant hazard to workers and operators of heavy machinery, in 2012 they developed a high-voltage proximity sensing system, GoUpSafely, to reduce the risk of high voltage power line strikes and flash-over incidents.
This system became commercially available in 2019 with variations to the design occurring over the years to ensure it provides optimal safety.
GoUpSafely uses innovative sensor technology and patented filtering capability to identify dangerous proximity to high-voltage sources alerting the operator to the risk via audio and visual warnings before stopping the machine from moving into the high-risk detection zone. It is easily installed onto a range of heavy machinery and has been hailed as an innovative approach to solving a serious electrical risk for a range of industries across the world.
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So Protective is a company who develops technology really from concept through to commercialisation.
Our ultimate goal is to put in technology into the relevant industries, those being primarily construction, mining, heavy machinery, things that save lives.
What problem was it? Well, people hurting themselves on powerlines. So, there are a lot of administrative controls out there that try to address this, whether it be a spotter, whether it be exclusion zones, things of that nature. And that's fine, we're not trying to replace any of those. What we're trying to do is add a last line of defence to this type of damage.
So GoUpSafely is a high voltage detection system. It's got a solar-powered sensor that sits out on the end of a boom. It's reading the strength of electrical E-field in the air. When it picks up a signal from 11 kV, 22 kV, 33 kV and up, it will then alert the operator that, hey, there's something in the air.
As you get closer, it's a graduated alert, so as you get closer, then it would get louder and then ultimately, if you've got an integrated system, stop you and/or go red and let you know that you're now in a very dangerous situation and you can move away from it.
So, our Managing Director, Karl Rosewarne, developed the system. My role was taking the systems that we had out in the field, customer feedback, and really integrating that back, feeding it back to our engineers so that we could actually take that feedback and make it worth something for us, iterate the system into a better system overall and something that's more efficient in the field, something that works for the operators.
There's always that fine line between ultimate safety and operability and getting that productivity match in the middle somewhere. So our system doesn't
compromise on safety. It keeps the guys safe, but it also is something the operators can live with when they're out in the field operating.
It's very difficult for us to have data for incidents that don't occur. And I suppose that's the answer, really, isn't it? To date, on machines with our system deployed on it, we have had not one incident been reported.
The ESO is one of the organisations in Australia that we have so much respect for. It would be quite gratifying to be recognised in that way for the system that we've put forward. We think we've got one of the best systems in the country, if not the world.
A lot of times, it's that little bit of recognition that kind of is the catalyst to the next evolution of whatever you're trying to do. So, yeah, it'd be quite morale-boosting.