Ending theft of power cables

August 2009 Infrastructure, Industrial (Industry)

Cable thieves, who cost the South African economy a reported R5,5-billion a year, are about to be stopped in their tracks thanks to the local design, development and production of an economic, easily applied cable theft protection system now being brought to market. Transnet, Telkom, Eskom and the Gauteng Municipality each reported losing amounts varying between R863-million and R900-million a year to cable theft. Most municipalities in South Africa experience serious cable theft problems.

In a move that will make it nigh impossible to steal long lengths of underground cable, power cable manufacturer Aberdare Cables has sealed an agreement with the product developer, Bert Gruber and the inventor, Alan Goldring to distribute the Cable Guard product in South Africa and sub-Saharan countries where Aberdare is represented.

“Larger underground cables are complex to manufacture and prices have been driven by the high cost of the metals involved, primarily copper, and to a much lesser extent aluminium, to the point where cable costs can be as much as R1000 per linear metre,” says electrical consultant to Aberdare, Dick Hardie. “Hence it is an attractive proposition for thieves who frequently use powerful vehicles to pull long lengths of cable out of the ground. Cable Guard makes this extremely difficult, in fact, nearly impossible.”

Lengths of cable fitted with Cable Guard were subjected to continuous full-throttle pulling and deliberate jerking in a number of tests to simulate cable theft. In one case a 185-square millimetre multicore PILC electrical cable, typically used for a mains supply ring feed, was conventionally laid in deep trenches, and compacted to the required 93% MOD (ASHTO) standard. An 8-ton truck, an 8-ton double differential mechanical horse, and a Model 428 Caterpillar 4-wheel drive backactor excavator all failed to remove the cable.

The Cable Guard system components are injection moulded from reinforced engineering polymers, resulting in both strength and corrosion resistance. The system is simple, quick, and easy to apply. It initially clamps securely around the cable outer serving. The outer shield is then fitted, which also interlocks with the clamping system. Gruber says computer-aided design and finite element analysis (FEA) were employed to ensure optimum product performance.

“The system tests also demonstrated that Cable Guard will fully resist in-line mechanical pull-out, reverse pull-out and perpendicular pull-out of cable,” said Gruber. “The Cable Guard system is available to fit five outer cable diameter sizes, ranging from 46-86 mm.”

For more information contact Annelene Sivalingum, Aberdare Cables, +27 (0)11 456 4200, [email protected]

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