The Smart Grid aims to reduce energy vulnerabilities by expanding power networks and by giving utilities control over individual heating and cooling systems. There is, however, at least one vulnerability the Smart Grid overlooks – unplanned delays caused by shipping damage.
Consider the solar energy industry. Solar panels worth tens of thousands of dollars may be shipped fully crated, but they also may be shipped on weak pallets with little padding, using recycled corrugate that tears easily, and banded sides. Such shoddy packaging leaves panels particularly vulnerable to damage during shipping from bumps from, drops from cranes, and the others shocks and vibrations inherent during transportation. And, even when packed properly, damage from sudden shocks or shifting cargo remains a possibility. Partial pallets pose another risk – that of tipping during shipment or storage, making them especially prone to damage.
The smart glass that is just beginning to be used as windows and to side high rises faces double risks. Not only can the glass fracture, but vibrations may sever the contacts of the fine wires that crisscross smart glass and help convert sunlight into power.
It’s not just delicate components that experiences shipping damage, however. Heavy equipment like transformers and turbines also may be harmed during shipping. For example, a hard drop from a crane can cause obvious external damage, but also may affect internal windings, creating conditions that may not be discovered until after installation, delaying projects and escalating costs.
Impact monitors help identify drop shocks and vibrations which may have ocurred during shipping, and alert receivers to check for damage before equipment is installed. And, by using monitors with GPS tracking, they can pinpoint the location of damage-causing events. That enables managers to tailor their logistics plans to reduce those risks through better packaging, routing, or choice of carrier, and allows insurers to assign risk to the proper party.