ATSTORM®: centralised, expert lightning warning system with IoT connectivity

The ATSTORM® storm detection system has dual sensor technology and also has IoT connectivity, thanks to which the system improves performance the longer it is in service in a given location, adjusting its algorithms and calculation formulas. The sensors are permanently connected to the centralised calculation system of Aplicaciones Tecnológicas S.A., where their signals are processed, their operation is monitored and alerts are sent to users.

Current storm detectors can be classified into two categories according to IEC 62793:2020 “Protection against lightning – Thunderstorm warning system”1: electromagnetic field based and electrostatic field based sensors. Dual detectors combining both technologies are also available. Outstanding among them is the ATSTORM® expert local storm detection system, the most complete system currently available on the market, with more than 15 years of accumulated experience. Not only does it have the aforementioned dual detection technology, but its sensors are remotely operated by Aplicaciones Tecnológicas S.A. experts via IoT (Internet of Things). In the following, we will develop in more detail both main features of ATSTORM®.

Dual thunderstorm detection technology

The ATSTORM® lightning warning system features electrostatic field based sensors and electromagnetic field based sensors. Its warning alerts of forming or approaching storms in the area to be protected (20 km radius) are based exclusively on the measurement of the ambient electrostatic field. This measure is the only robust preventive protection because it detects all storm phases defined in the IEC 62793:2020 standard, from initial phase to good weather once the storm has passed. Electrostatic field sensors are the only ones capable of determining the actual risk of lightning strikes before they occur.

Conventional electrostatic field sensors, so-called field mills, typically present problems of obstruction, wear and tear2-4 , due to the rotary electric motor that must operate in continuous mode. ATSTORM® solves these problems with its fully electronic Field-Controlled Electrometric Sensor (FCES®)5 with no moving parts.

In addition to the FCES® electrostatic field sensor, ATSTORM® incorporates another sensor based on electromagnetic field. In this way, it extends the monitoring area up to a radius of 40 kilometres and makes it possible to define a pre-warning state in the event of distant active storms approaching the target to be protected.

ATSTORM®’s dual measurement technology (electrostatic field and electromagnetic field) allows calibration of both sensors for unmatched accuracy.

The data from the two different measurement technologies (electrostatic field and electromagnetic field) of the ATSTORM® storm detection system provide complementary information that serves to calibrate the values of each sensor at all the stations that make up the system. The algorithms that process the information use the measurement of one sensor to corroborate that of the other, as well as to control various necessary aspects of each station: detection of disconnections, calculation of the distance of the storm and adjustment of the alarm level, allowing predictive maintenance to be carried out.

ATSTORM®’s centralised calculation system

The ATSTORM® expert system differs from any other stand-alone storm detector (consisting of a single isolated detection unit) in the way it treats the data obtained. ATSTORM® uses self-learning techniques to modify its alarm calculation algorithms. Thanks to these adaptive algorithms, the device adjusts to local conditions and to the customer’s needs by calculating the alarm parameters in order to adapt the warning times at each location and thus improve the overall performance of the system.

ATSTORM® is the expert local storm detection system that surpasses any available stand-alone detector, thanks to its centralised calculation power at Aplicaciones Tecnológicas S.A.

ATSTORM®’s performance is ensured at all times through M2M communication technologies. This communication is carried out through a virtual private network (VPN), which guarantees its security. In addition, the redundancy of the servers, installed in three different locations, ensures the service 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Operated by the expert staff of Aplicaciones Tecnológicas S.A., all adaptations, calibrations and updates of ATSTORM® are carried out remotely and immediately without the need for the user to intervene on site. This avoids downtime and/or waiting time while the necessary improvements are carried out. The connectivity allows the permanent connection of the sensors with Aplicaciones Tecnológicas S.A., where the signal received is processed and alerts are sent to customers via multiple channels.

Furthermore, having ATSTORM® detection systems in different regions of the world, the accumulated experience allows for continuous improvement of the system in each location.

With the data from several storms acquired locally by the different detection units, the ATSTORM® system determines the conditions of each one of them with respect to the whole, adjusting the local parameters to improve the accuracy of the global measurement. This data allows correcting deviations due to installation, environmental conditions or even punctual interferences that the detection units may have.

In short, ATSTORM® allows the precise identification of all phases of the thunderstorm, warning of the evolution of the existing risk as far in advance as possible. This enables the correct management of preventive measures against the risk of lightning strikes, both to implement these measures and to deactivate them. ATSTORM® is unique due to its centralised calculation system, IoT connectivity and dual detection technology (using a fully electronic electrostatic field sensor with no moving parts and an electromagnetic field-based sensor). Its operation is autonomous in both communication and energy, with 2G/3G communication module, solar panel and battery. These features of ATSTORM® make it easy to install, with minimal requirements for the customer. In addition, both systems can be redundant to guarantee maximum security.

ATSTORM® is remotely operated by Aplicaciones Tecnológicas S.A., so that its correct operation is always ensured, making all adaptations, calibrations and updates automatic, without requiring the user’s intervention.

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If you would like to find out more about how ATSTORM works and how it adapts to any location of interest, you can contact us at the following link.

References

  1. International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC). IEC 62793:2020 Protection against lightning – Thunderstorm warning systems. International Standard (2020).
  2. Aranguren, D. Desempeño de Sensores de Campo Eléctrostático en Sistemas de Alerta de Tormentas. (2011).
  3. Torralba, C. et al. Storm detection by static electric field measurements without mobile elements. in 1st International Lightning Protection Symposium (2011).
  4. Zhengyu, L. Application of preventive protection in an Oil Basement in China. in International Lightning Protection Symposium (2014).
  5. Ruiz, D. et al. A new concept in lightning parameters measurement. J. Electrostat. 67, 496–500 (2009).