Health and Safety CONFERENCE

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Technical Development in Explosion-Protected Polymer-Based HV Couplers and the Potential Safety Benefits to the Mine Industry

Stephen Williams
Engineering Manager, Connec High Voltage Coupler Systems

High voltage (HV) electricity is one of the primary sources of energy within underground coal mines, the effective control of which is fundamental to maintaining a safe working environment. Furthermore, the equipment typically used in HV transmission and distribution is heavy, requiring manual handling to facilitate installation in what can be deemed a confined and harsh working environment.

HV cable coupler and connection systems are an integral and necessary part of mining electrical systems. Underground mining especially has a frequent need to connect and disconnect cables as a result of both the mining process and cable/connector inspection, maintenance and testing regimes. However, current coupler designs which have been in use for several decades consist primarily of a heavy metallic body that inherently limits methods for “testing for dead” prior to touching the coupler.

This presentation describes at a relatively high level the various associated safety benefits that have been incorporated into developing these polymer coupler systems, including the ability to reliably “test for dead” prior to disconnecting a coupler and the substantial weight reductions that allow for improved manual-handling.

Having been supported by ACARP from the outset, Connec has developed the world’s first polymer-based Restrained (≤3.3 kV) and Bolted (≤11 kV) HV coupler systems that are both ANZEx and IECEx certified for use in underground coal mining environments.