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Con Edison and ULC Technologies test Cable Splicing Machine to improve worker safety

Serving over 10 million customers across New York City and Westchester County, Con Edison operates one of the most complex energy delivery systems in the country. Thousands of miles of cable wind through underground vaults to power the brightly lit Big Apple, day in and day out regardless of weather. Keeping the lights on requires regular cable inspections, maintenance and splicing - traditionally manual work done in confined, hazardous spaces. Now, a new robotic solution looks set to transform this critical but dangerous process.


Con Edison recently field tested a Cable Splicing Machine developed by ULC Technologies capable of fully automating cable end preparation and splicing autonomously. Controlled remotely, the robot system secures onto feeder cables inside live vaults and uses various precision tools to strip sheathing, shorten and splice connections based on specifications. Integrated cameras let workers monitor progress safely from the surface rather than hands-on intervene.

The machine promises vast upgrades for worker safety by directly eliminating high voltage exposure threats. In a realm where lives regularly depend on split-second reactions, removing pressure and fatigue for maintenance crews decreases overall grid risk. Beyond personal impacts, automated consistency and efficiency heightens system resilience across the board. Weather events like storms and heatwaves which strain networks become less daunting with robust connectivity.

For Con Edison and other progressive utilities, the cable splicing robot represents a major step toward realizing grid modernization goals. Increasingly firms must balance managing intricate legacy assets while optimizing for renewable integration, digital management and emissions reductions. Automating the most dangerous and repetitive tasks allows skilled teams to focus innovation efforts on big picture reliability and sustainability planning.

Success with the splicing prototype has spurred additional collaboration between Con Edison and ULC Technologies. The project partners are working to enhance the machine's tools and responsiveness to handle various cable types even more quickly. By eliminating the need for human vault access entirely, the robot can drastically minimize disruption and liability when splicing cables serving hospitals, transit systems and other essential city infrastructure.

Robotics present unmatched potential for creating safer, cleaner and more resilient energy networks. Con Edison's cutting-edge cable management project offers a blueprint for utilities industry-wide to employ automation broadly, reduce exposures, optimize existing grid infrastructure and ultimately better support the communities relying on always-on power.

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