Signature Materials surges forward

In a move designed to reduce the incidence of metal theft from electricity distribution substations, Signature Materials metal marking technique is being trialled. 

SigMat is working closely with Electricity North West and Greater Manchester Police on a 16-week trial, which started in April 2013. This trial is the first of its kind to be carried out by any DNO (Distribution Network Operator) and is hoped to have a significant impact on the costly crime of copper theft.

Steve Cox, future network manager for Electricity North West, said, “Metal theft can cause significant disruption to our customers and it costs us thousands of pounds a year so we are delighted to be able to invest in this new pioneering trial. This trial will help us and the police identify any stolen copper during regular visits to local scrap yards and help us stop thieves targeting our network. It is essential to ensure thieves are caught and to also act as a warning to others that you will be caught if you steal from our substations.” 

The marking technique is entirely portable and will mark key information on copper in more than 700 of the region’s substations. In the coming months, Electricity North West will be proactively engaging with local scrap yards informing them of what to look out for and warning them that they will be prosecuted if they are caught with stolen goods.

Bernie Rickinson, Chief Executive of IOM3, said: “Providing cost-effective, easy to access visual identity will introduce a step change in the reduction of metal theft. In this development, we have transferred a technology used routinely in the aerospace industry and have adapted the technique to mark most metals in a wide range of product forms. We can mark everything from a lead roof, to a plastic battery case, and importantly, provide the police with instant traceability.”