One of the major hurdles in the Dutch energy transition is the connection of multiple pieces of electric cable. In order to connect two electric cables in a process called cable splicing, for example when adding new pieces of grid to the existing power grid, the cables need to be stripped and subsequently connected using a cable connector. The process of cable splicing is currently performed by technicians who use low-tech tools to perform the various cable splicing tasks. There is a gap between the supply of qualified technicians and the demand for electricity, leading to waiting lists for the construction of new housing and industry projects and an inability to achieve the clean energy goals of 2030 and 2050 set by the Dutch government.
In a collaboration between University of Twente (Robotics and Mechatronics group) and N.V. Alliander, we are researching the possibility of a cable splicing machine for medium voltage cables (20 kV). We are currently working on a technology for automatic removal of the insulation shield of medium voltage cables, which is one of the most difficult tasks in the cable splicing process. This technology has the potential to reduce cable failure, while also reducing the time required for cable splicing.