Northampton-based connection provider, DragonIS has invented Dragoncam – an underground monitoring system which can check the inside of cable ducts for ridges and damage.

The company claims that the new product is capable of saving developers and DNOs significant money because it can remove the risk of digging up damaged cable. Dragoncam works by recording footage of the insides of ducts or channels as it travels through the system.

The company designed the new product after frustrations faced working on Kerriers Solar Farm in Cornwall. The local network engineer working on the site wanted DragonIS to prove that there were no ridges inside over 5km of duct that had been laid.

Ridges inside a duct can prove problematic when an electricity cable is operating at maximum capacity and therefore running very hot. When the cable is hot it runs the risk of becoming misshapen due to the ridges and fail as a result.

The length of the channel at Kerriers Solar Farm meant that a traditional camera system would be prohibitively expensive – costing around £12,000. DragonIS’s solution was to fit a video camera into a tubular trolley with spotlights and wheels. The result meant that the camera could be attached behind a duct brush and winched throughout the entire system.

Commenting on the product, Stephen Branch, civil engineer said: “Dragoncam is ingenious. I had no reason to think that there were ridges in the channel of duct which had been laid. But with the channel being so long and deep, I just wanted reassurance. The Dragoncam gave me that – the duct was perfect.”

DragonIS will make Dragoncam free for developers to use. However, the company doesn’t see developers as the only beneficiaries to the new product, it also hopes that DNOs will adopt the Dragoncam to help identify and fix problems post-connection.

Tim Pope, construction director at DragonIS, concluded: “The Dragoncam was borne out of a need to provide a solution to a problem. It will not be needed on every site, but to have this technology available whenever we want is very reassuring. It gives the network operators and developers confidence in us and our work, and puts us ahead of our competitors in terms of innovation, flexibility and customer satisfaction.”