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Lightning monitoring system wins innovation award

22 April, 2012

Phoenix Contact has won the 2012 Hermes innovation award for a system that measures surges in lightning conductors and transmits data about them via the Internet to remote control centres. The award is made at the Hannover Fair each year to a company that has developed an outstandingly innovative product.

The Phoenix technology is aimed at wind turbine installations. Lightning strikes are responsible for most incidents involving damage to wind turbine rotor blades. By allowing continuous monitoring of such incidents, the new system ensures that maintenance work can begin quickly.

The system is based on the electrical-optical Faraday effect. It measures the full course of the lightning surge as well as its impact on each blade. It also helps to ensure that the plant continues to function and increases the reliability of electricity supplies. Maintenance work can be targeted more efficiently and cost-effectively.

The award was presented to Phoenix Contact`s sales director Roland Bent (above) at a ceremony at the opening of the 2012 Hannover Fair. At the event, Dr Wolfgang Wahlster, chairman of the jury, said that award had been bestowed on “a product of special significance to an industry going through such radical change. It is a typical leading-edge cyber-physical system: a sensor-actuator system linked to the Internet that will form the basis for the fourth industrial revolution.

“Every year more than 25,000 new wind energy farms are built,” he pointed out, “including an increasing number offshore. Thanks to the products developed by Phoenix Contact, maintenance of these facilities can now be carried out in a less random fashion, more quickly and cost-effectively.”

Other companies nominated for the 2012 Hermes award included ContiTech, Festo and Pepperl+Fuchs.

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