Cleveland Electric Labs on Red Wing’s Oil and Gas HSE Podcast


Red Wing's Oil and Gas HSE Podcast

The ability to identify a problem before it becomes an HSE incident is often a game of seconds; things often go from bad to worse in the blink of an eye. But what if you could monitor your operations five times a second, during every phase of your operation?

The folks at Cleveland Electric Labs specialize in equipment that can do that, and more.

From monitoring the flow of bulk product through a pipeline to protecting a secure area from unauthorized entry, Cleveland Electric Labs has over 90 years of experience providing solutions to every aspect of industrial safety and security.

The Red Wing Oil and Gas HSE Podcast is hosted by Mark LaCour and Patrick Pistor. This is THE show for everyone who has an interest in HSE in the oil and gas industry.

Mark the Director at Modalpoint, where he manages a dedicated team of industry professionals, with a laser focus on the intersection of the Oil and Gas industry and your revenue stream. He has extensive experience in the Oil and Gas industry and sits on the API – Houston board of directors.

Patrick is the Managing Director at Lean Oilfield, where his team focuses on business process improvement and digital marketing for the oil and gas industry. He has worked for drilling contractors in the Gulf of Mexico, Angola, Australia and Singapore and sits on the board of directors for the IADC – Houston chapter

Click Play to Hear the Oil and Gas HSE Podcast Episode 32 – Cleveland Electric Labs

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CEL Competes in 2017 ASTORS Homeland Security Awards

Unmonitored manhole/vault covers pose significant vulnerability access points to sensitive governmental areas & critical infrastructure locations for physical attack, frequently missed in perimeter protection strategies, as evidenced for example, by the Metcalf attack

Unmonitored manhole/vault covers pose significant vulnerability access points to sensitive governmental areas & critical infrastructure locations for physical attack, frequently missed in perimeter protection strategies, as evidenced for example, by the Metcalf attack (Learn More)

When dignitaries or high-profile individuals visit cities, municipal crews often weld manholes shut in vulnerable locations to ensure safety, costing tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars each time they must be welded and then cut open again.

Manhole covers and similar access points related to sensitive areas as well as critical infrastructure locations have proven to be a source of significant vulnerability, and many malicious acts such as vandalism, material theft, and even terrorism have occurred due to ease of access through manholes that generally are unprotected.

Electrical utility manhole cover
Electrical utility manhole cover

Utility companies, telecom providers, and municipalities are increasingly installing cabling and other components of their physical infrastructures underground.

Power is carried over metal cables, but most data and telecommunications infrastructures utilize fiber optics, and these vital links commonly pass through underground vaults.

The data and telecom traffic carried on these lines is sensitive at a minimum, and the access points to such lines need to be secured to help maintain both the integrity of this vital infrastructure and the security of the information carried by it.

Although the jacket of a fiber optic cable may appear virtually identical to a cable containing copper wires, a thief in a hurry may not distinguish between the two; and as the following account illustrates, metal theft may not be the only motivation for lifting a utility vault cover.

At the lower end of the threat continuum, thieves frequently enter manholes to cut power cables in order to steal metals to be sold for scrap.

For these efforts, they may gain a few hundred dollars from a scrap yard, while causing thousands of dollars’ worth of damage and the loss of critical public safety services, power, and telecommunications to nearby industry, the surrounding community and its citizens.

Soft targets

At the higher end of the threat continuum, literally hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of manholes around our nation give easy access for a physical attack against vital components of our infrastructure, and the Metcalf attack demonstrates this easy access.

In addition to access points for vital components of our national infrastructure, manholes in and around city centers, stadiums, coliseums, hospitals, campuses, government agencies or similar public venues where large numbers of people gather at one time may also be points of vulnerability.

The Need

A safe and durable means of continuously monitoring the position of manhole or vault covers, in order to detect when they are opened and closed, is needed to help protect our vital communications and power infrastructures installed in manholes and underground vaults.

Monitoring of manholes near public venues where many people gather also would be beneficial to immediately alert authorities of any unauthorized entry; such monitoring would help maintain perimeter security and improve public safety.

The Vulnerability, an Example – The Metcalf Attack

Metcalf Attack
(Image Credit: WSJ)

On 16 April 2013, just before 1AM, intruders lifted the heavy cover of a telecom underground utility vault near the Metcalf power substation just south of San Jose, CA.

They cut fiber optic telecom cables in the vault, disrupting communications in the area; a few minutes later, they entered a second vault nearby and severed more telecom cables.

Then, starting around 1:30, they focused rifle fire on high voltage transformers inside the substation fence. The shooting lasted nearly twenty minutes, and then the saboteurs vanished into the night.

Law enforcement officers arrived only a moment later, saw nothing suspicious, could not get past the locked fence, and left.

The attack caused leakage of 52,000 gallons of cooling oil and disabled 17 transformers; a blackout in portions of Silicon Valley was narrowly averted through power re-routing and conservation.

Jon Wellinghoff, then chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, visited the site afterward and brought along military experts.

They concluded that it was a planned professional job, and Mr. Wellinghoff stated the attack was “the most significant incident of domestic terrorism involving the grid that has ever occurred” in the US.

(Hear from Jon Wellinghoff, and Mark Weatherford, former deputy undersecretary of the Department of Homeland Security, about future risks and protection directly, courtesy of Homeland Security Mgmt, PBS and YouTube)

The Department of Homeland Security defines terrorism as any activity involving an act that is “dangerous to human life or potentially disruptive of critical infrastructure or key resources.”

By this definition, the Metcalf attack was a double act of terrorism.

Such classification may or may not deter would-be thieves or saboteurs depending on their determination, knowledge and speed, but the development of systems to continuously monitor access points and help protect the security of vital infrastructures located underground has not kept pace with the expansion of such infrastructures themselves.

If a well-coordinated attack on these systems were to occur again today, how quickly would we know the location?

What if we could identify, in less than five seconds after it occurred, exactly which manhole cover was disturbed?

Given this capability, might the Metcalf event have turned out differently?

Desirable attributes of a suitable manhole/vault cover intrusion detection system include the following:

LCM-610 sensor
LCM-610 sensor
  • Reliably, continuously and simultaneously monitoring of the position of multiple manhole covers
  • Individual and unique identifiers for every manhole or vault in which the system is installed
  • Immediately report a change in the position of any manhole or vault cover
  • Sensors that are environmentally rugged and resistant to corrosion
  • Sensors that are intrinsically safe for use in explosive atmospheres
  • Sensors located in each manhole/vault that do not require electrical power
  • Sensors and interconnecting lines that emit no signals and are immune to electrical interference
  • Sensors that cannot be bypassed without detection
  • Sensors that may be deployed kilometers distant from remote monitoring equipment, if required.

The CEL Solution

LCM-610 sensor in protective cowling, mounted to concrete manhole wall using adjustable adapter plateLCM-6100 systems are part of the FiberStrike suite of fiber optic sensing systems made by Cleveland Electric Laboratories (CEL) in Tempe, AZ, which have been deployed both domestically and internationally.An effective solution exists in LCM-6100 manhole cover position sensing systems, which are specifically designed to help protect the security of underground utility infrastructures by monitoring the position of covers at the manhole or vault access points.

FiberStrike sensing systems use light (not electricity) to sense position or movement, and system attributes address all of the criteria listed above.

An LCM-6100 system for monitoring manhole or vault covers consists of LCM-610 sensors, LCM-2600 monitoring equipment at a remote location, optical fiber that links the sensors with the monitoring equipment, processing software, and a graphic user interface that is intuitive and easily used without requiring extensive training.

Protective mounting hardware also is available that adjusts to virtually any manhole wall configuration.


“The ROI for a FiberStrike system may be estimated by comparing how many times a city has to go through the aforementioned process of welding manholes closed and reopening them (at top), or estimates of how much will be lost in the event of thefts, vandalism or terrorism, against the system installation cost,” said Rodger Shepherd, VP Advanced Technologies, CEL.

“Type SMF-28 fiber is commonly used in telecom systems, and if dark (unused) fiber of this type already passes through manhole/vault spaces to be protected and testing confirms it is suitable, installation costs may be reduced by using such fiber to link cover position sensors and the LCM-2600 remote monitoring equipment.”

“Up to fifty LCM-610 sensors may be multiplexed on one fiber, making efficient use of available fiber and further reducing installation costs.”

“The FiberStrike system continuously monitors the position of manhole or vault covers and immediately reports a change at any cover; the LCM-2600 equipment can simultaneously monitor hundreds of cover sensors if desired, with every cover individually and uniquely identified.”

“Alerts also can be transmitted to multiple authorized recipients via voicemail or text.”

“Individual identification allows exact location of any attempt to access a manhole or underground vault through a cover on which a sensor has been installed, and facilitates an immediate focused response by security or law enforcement personnel if appropriate,” concluded Shepherd.

Cleveland Electric Laboratories

CEL in 2017 ‘ASTORS’ Homeland Security Awards Program

The 2017 ‘ASTORS’ Homeland Security Awards Program, organized to recognize the most distinguished vendors of Physical, IT, Port Security, Law Enforcement, First Responders, (Fire, EMT, Military, Support Services Vets, SBA, Medical Tech) as well as the Federal, State, County and Municipal Government Agencies – to acknowledge their outstanding efforts to ‘Keep our Nation Secure, One City at a Time.’

As an ‘ASTORS’ competitor, Cleveland Electric Laboratories (CEL) will be competing against the industries leading providers of innovative sensor, intrusion detection systems for critical infrastructure.

2017 ‘ASTORS’ Winners will be honored at the ‘American Security Expo 2017’ to be held November 8-9, 2017, in the Meadowlands Exposition Center, at the 2017 ‘ASTORS’ Awards Luncheon which will take place the afternoon of November 8, 2017.

The full two-day conference & exhibit venue in the New York City area, will include full schedule of conference meetings and speakers – plus an Unmanned Security, Robotics & Drone Exhibition Arena, Hiring Event & Education Opportunities.

Good luck to Cleveland Electric Labs on becoming a Winner of the 2017 American Security Today’s Homeland Security Awards Program!

For more information on LCM-6100 systems, as well as other FiberStrike intrusion sensing systems, readers are encouraged to contact Cleveland Electric Laboratories’ Advanced Technologies Group (CEL-ATG) by phone at 480-967-2501 or via email at

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SIA Member Spotlight: Cleveland Electric Labs Readies Perimeter Security Breakthrough

Executives from Cleveland Electric Labs visited SIA headquarters recently.

by Mickey McCarter, Manager of Communications in SIA Membership

Cleveland Electric Labs, a new member of the Security Industry Association (SIA), is on the verge of introducing an innovative new perimeter security product to the commercial security marketplace.
In a visit to SIA headquarters recently, Cleveland Electric Labs executives, including President Jack Allan Lieske and Vice President of Advanced Technologies Rodger Shepherd, described how their company assessed current perimeter security sensors and found them lacking. Many customers of existing solutions report unacceptably high rates of false alarms, the executives said.
1But eventually Cleveland Electric Labs was able to deploy its fiber optic sensor tech in a truly exciting solution.
“We immediately knew we could not try to follow anything like that same architecture,” Shepherd told SIA. “So we worked very hard to develop completely different architectures that would give us different signatures.”
The first method Cleveland Electric Labs began exploring was direct-buried fiber optic cable. The limitations of that approach became evident quickly, said Shepherd, as varying soil types and conditions affect the reliability of sensor readings. Soft soil makes it easy to detect footprints over the fiber optics while hard ground makes it difficult. Cleveland Electric Labs shifted its focus away from that effort, although the company continues to explore options.
The second method the company assessed was fence-mounted tech. Cleveland Electric Labs discovered it could make a breakthrough using this model. Without going into detail, Shepherd said the company’s engineers were able to measure movement through their fence-mounted fiber optics in a way that would avoid false alarms such as strong wind blowing on birds landing on the fence.
Soon, Cleveland Electric Labs will unveil its first customer for its fence-mounted perimeter security solution. That same customer also purchased a buried fiber solution for detection of whether an intruder attempts to dig under a fence, a problem much easier to solve than detection of footprints across various grades and conditions of ground soil.
Cleveland Electric Labs, a 97-year-old company headquartered in Ohio, traditionally was involved in industrial temperature control sensor manufacturing, Lieske said. It provided sensors to longtime clients like Honeywell and Northrop Grumman among others. Eventually, Cleveland Electric Labs sold off some of its other legacy business and focused solely on sensors.
More than a decade ago, Cleveland Electric Labs acquired a partner in Phoenix, Arizona, and deepened its focus on small sensors and fiber optics. The acquisition of the Arizona company led to building a site at a University of Arizona research park in Tempe, Arizona. In the Tempe facility, the company built out its perimeter security business, employing about 40 people in that location to develop products, build them and as necessary install them. (Cleveland Electric is ready to work with integrators as well as complete installations itself.)
With its perimeter security solution nearly complete, Shepherd voiced confidence that Cleveland Electric Labs would be able to discern locations of intruders much more precisely than other products. With the completion of software development for the fence-mounted solution, Cleveland Electric Labs will start widely marketing the security package. The package will consist of a mid-range price product that will deliver exact location to clients, Shepherd said.
“We see a gap in what is available right now,” he added. Many perimeter security clients have turned off their solutions to cut down on false alarms.
That could eventually lead to disaster at critical hubs like airports. In the case of U.S. airports, the 31 highest volume airports have experienced more than 250 intrusion attempts since 2011, whether trespassers were attempting to cut through, drive through or climb over perimeter fencing.
“We are not taking any product to market that is going to be susceptible to the same problems as existing platforms,” Shepherd vowed.
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Crain’s Business Magazine – With success in one new market, Cleveland Electric Labs eyes another

The Twinsburg company, best known for making thermocouples — a fairly low-tech item to measure temperature but one that is used in countless industrial applications now hopes it can sell high-tech sensors to monitor pipelines and national infrastructure.

Jack_LieskeThat might sound like a stretch, and it might be one for most companies. But CEL has been down this road before. The company previously set its sights on supplying fiber optic sensors to monitor the soundness of the nation’s bridges and other transportation structures. That was not long after the I-35 Mississippi River bridge in Minnesota collapsed in 2007, killing 13 people.
Thermocouples remain the company’s biggest source of revenue, but installing sensor systems to monitor bridges has become a significant business for the company. CEL owner Jack Allan Lieske said the private company does not break down its financial results for public consumption, but its annual revenue is about $35 million a year.

CEL got into fiber optic technology when it purchased an Arizona company with which it had been partnering on projects. The six-person operation was known then as Instrumentation Specialties Inc. Now, a dozen years later, the Arizona operation has more than 30 employees and functions as CEL’s Advanced Technology Group — and its source of fiber optics expertise. It is run by former Instrumentation Specialties president Rodger Shepherd.

“One of the first areas where we started using this (fiber optics technology) was in bridge monitoring, and now we have some very sophisticated systems in place around the U.S. and Mexico,” said Shepherd, now a vice president at CEL.

For example, the company recently installed a fiber optic monitoring system on the Indian River Bridge in Delaware, a system that includes about 175 sensors and cost roughly $1 million, Lieske said.

Now, the company is installing a similar system on the Brooklyn Bridge in New York.

“We’re starting on the (Manhattan) side and we should get over to Brooklyn in about four to five years.” Lieske said, explaining that the sensor work is following other bridge renovations as they progress from one side to the other.

CEL will continue to pursue new work on bridges and other infrastructure, but it is also continuing to expand its product line and the markets it serves, Lieske said.

That includes monitoring systems for underground infrastructure in cities around the nation, too, Shepherd said. The company has developed sensors that can constantly monitor underground environments and alert city officials if any unauthorized access takes place. That’s important, in part, because cities more than ever need to protect underground copper wiring from thieves, as well as secure phone, data, sewer and water lines.
Now the company hopes the oil and gas industry will be its next big market. CEL has developed a system that uses electronic components and fiber optic communication lines to monitor pipelines, compressor stations and the internal pipes and plumbing of natural gas processing centers and oil refineries.

“It’s basically a microphone, and we’re listening to the flow of material through the pipeline. Anything flowing makes a certain sound,” Shepherd said.

The system can tell by changes in the frequency or amplitude whether anything has disturbed the pipeline, or if a leak has developed, Shepherd said. Soon, he hopes, it will be good enough to tell pipeline operators the volume of gas or oil flowing through the line at any given time.

Currently, oil and gas companies monitor their in-use pipelines largely via aerial observation. That process has become cheaper and easier to implement in recent years, thanks to drones, but it still only provides a snapshot of the pipeline’s condition.

Shepherd and Lieske said a chief advantage of their system is that it provides constant, real-time information.

What they don’t yet know is how many microphones the system needs or, more specifically, how far they can be spaced apart. That will determine the cost of the system, and the company’s test facility in Arizona does not allow for long stretches of pipeline to be installed and tested.

CEL is looking for a company in the oil and gas industry to work with to test the system on longer runs. So far, it has found no takers, though officials just started looking, Lieske said.

The company hopes its new fiber optics products do well because its infrastructure and pipeline monitoring systems bring in higher margins than its thermocouples. It also hopes that these new markets prove to be faster growing than the steel, glass and other old-line industries that are its biggest customers for thermocouples.

Recently, things might have turned a bit in CEL’s favor, too.

President-elect Donald Trump has promised to both increase infrastructure spending and to be more friendly to oil and gas development in the U.S. If he follows through, that could mean more investment in pipelines and infrastructure.

Virtually all of the nation’s bridges could benefit from structural monitoring, and some of them desperately need it, Lieske said.

“This could be a huge industry nationally. Imagine if the country did a couple hundred bridges every month,” Lieske said.

But the tailwinds are also far from reliable.

Though investments in drilling and pipeline construction have increased somewhat in recent months, low prices for oil and gas are still depressing activity and environmental concerns have slowed some pipeline projects.

But just developing its new products has given CEL a head start in some new markets, along with eight patents on its new technologies.

“We don’t have competitors in a lot of these new markets, and we have new patented products that we never thought we’d have,” Lieske said.

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Fox News 8 Features Cleveland Electric Labs Fiber Optic Bridge Products




Cleveland Electric Laboratories, headquartered in Twinsburg, has been working for the past 11 years to create an arsenal of tools that can be placed in strategic places on bridges and will warn of potentially hazardous changes.

“We realized about 11 years ago that being a sensor company and dealing with fiber optic, and the intensity of that particular measuring device that we could apply those to some of these cracks and vibration and stress portion of bridges, and give very accurate information,” said company president Jack Lieske.

Read More On the Fox News 8 Website >>

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