No matter how advanced technology becomes the forces of nature remain the same. The Crossett Water Commission knows this all too well.  The Commission’s water plant in Crossett, Arkansas was faced with an expensive lightning problem.  They knew their water plant needed a serious solution after several lightning hits over a period of time cost them more than $40,000 in damage.

Crossett, Arkansas water system plant
Crossett, Arkansas water system plant

More advanced electronics being used by industries worldwide mean protecting these sensitive components from lightning is more critical than ever before.  In Crossett’s case, the large industrial motors running their series of wells are controlled by solid state electronics which do not have to sustain a massive static charge to suffer damage. “We knew we had to put this horse out to pasture,” said Buddy Kinney with Crossett.

After searching intensely for the right solution for the water plant, Kinney found LBA Technology, Inc.  in Greenville, NC. He then contacted product representative Javier Castillo. ”In researching LBA, I found some products I thought would fit our needs. Javier helped me understand what products we needed.”

The Crossett Water Commission now protects their facility, which includes a $6.6 million renovation, with specialized LBA lightning masts. They have recently installed the lightning protection on a series of wells and a tall lime silo after a long ordeal that began in July 2010.

The PLP series of lightning masts protect Crossett’s facilities by providing a cone of protection within which lightning charges are diverted to the mast and grounded instead of being sent through the protected object, as is the case with conventional lightning protection. This cone of protection, defined by the NFPA “rolling ball” method, is critical. This approach avoids making expensive and sensitive equipment a conduit for lightning. The lightning masts are also equipped with charge dissipating air terminals to significantly reduce the risk of an actual strike by reducing the electrical field in the vicinity of the lightning mast.

“I am convinced the LBA lightning masts have already paid for themselves, keeping us safe through several thunderstorms we have had since installation,” added Kinney.

Crossett’s story of how they conquered the risk of costly lightning damage started in the midst of their multi-million dollar renovation. The renovation project was nearly complete in July 2010 when the first lightning strike hit, shorting out several electrical and instrumentation circuits throughout their system.  Replacing parts and getting their system back on line came at a cost of over $13,000.  They took another lightning hit on New Year’s Eve 2010 with a repair price tag of nearly $23,000. These costs don’t take into account the resulting downtime and potential water customer inconvenience.

It was at this point that Mr. Kinney found LBA and Castillo gathered information from Kinney in an effort to recommend the right solution.  “Javier helped me understand what products we needed and how to install them” said Kinney.

Crossett wellhead protected by LBA Technology PLP-22 lightning mast
Crossett wellhead protected by LBA Technology PLP-22 lightning mast

LBA was able to get the specialized lightning masts to Crossett quickly and efficiently since all parts and section lengths meet UPS shipping standards.  Kinney also found installation straightforward and cost effective; “Installation was simple, not time consuming, not labor intensive, and best of all, not expensive.” PLP-22 lightning masts were installed. Installation was on a simple concrete pier, and the lightning masts were designed to be set up with manual labor; no cranes needed.

But Crossett’s lightning challenges were not yet over.  Some of their critical infrastructure still had not been protected with the LBA lightning masts, leaving them vulnerable to strikes.  Two of Crossett’s unprotected wells were hit by lightning in 2012. One took a hit in August 2012 leaving a repair cost of just over $1,400 and another well was damaged in September 2012 resulting in a damage price tag of almost $2,000.

Mr. Kinney wasted no time contacting Castillo at LBA again.  “We came up with a lightning protection system for each one of our wells,” said Kinney.

They were able to protect each of the wells with the specialized masts at an average cost of $2,400 per well.  “A very comfortable investment considering one lightning bolt can cause anywhere from $1,200.00 to $2,000.00 damage,” added Kinney. “I would without reservation highly recommend the LBA Technology lightning protection masts to any facility that creates an atmosphere that wants to attract lightning due to electrical, instrumentation, and electronic components,” said Kinney.

More about LBA PLP lightning masts

LBA Technology offers the PLP-14, PLP-22, PLP-30 and PLP-38.  These lightweight, heavy duty fixed, portable, and kitted lightning protection masts systems are manufactured from highest grade lightweight aluminum alloys. The masts, which range in height from 14 feet to 38 feet, are rugged and are available with various mounting styles and grounding systems.  Coupled with LBA’s dissipater air terminals, this specialized system offers a lightning defense that is unmatched.

Assembly and disassembly of the PLP series of masts is a simple one person procedure, using only common hand tools, and typically requires under an hour. Once assembled, a PLP mast may be readily mated with an appropriate support system. The universal base section of the mast is designed to interface with an optional fixed base (FB-1), portable base (PB-1), or customer supplied base. Patents are pending on this unique lightning mast.

No matter what lightning protection solution is deployed, there is one fact that is certain about lightning and that its unpredictable nature.  There is no system on the market that can guarantee 100 percent protection against a natural phenomenon like lightning, but with 50 years’ experience worldwide in electromagnetic protection, LBA has the expertise to design and furnish the best lightning protection solutions for specialty infrastructure.

For more information on lightning protection solutions offered by LBA Technology, visit lbagroup.com/products/lightning-protection-systems-for-towers-antennas-and-structures. To discuss your application, contact Javier Castillo or Byron Johnson at lbagrp@lbagroup.com, phone 252-757-0279.

Keep up with what’s going on at LBA by following our blog at devlbagroup.com/blog/ and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/LBAGroup.

 

About The Author

LBA Group, Inc. has 50 years of experience in providing RF asset solutions and risk management for industrial and telecommunications infrastructure assets. The company is comprised of LBA Technology, a leading manufacturer and integrator of radio frequency systems, lightning protection, and EMC equipment for broadcast, industrial, and government users worldwide; the professional engineering consultancy Lawrence Behr Associates, and LBA University, providing on-site and online professional training. The companies are based in Greenville, N.C., USA.

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