Renewable energy challenge by Enel | Construction sites operational improvements

Enel is looking for a smart device to make excavations at its sites safer and more effective.

Device for the detection of cables and pipes for excavators



Enel Green Power (EGP), in pursuing its 100% renewable generation target, is opening and managing new construction sites in countries where it is present and currently has hundreds construction sites around the world.

Giving employee safety a top priority, EGP is looking for a smart device that can be easily integrated on (and removed from) excavators and/or drilling machines, for early detection of the presence of underground utility services during normal machine operation.

The challenge

Enel Green Power is looking for a sustainable, efficient and cost effective smart device to be installed on machines operating on ground for earthmoving activities, such as excavators, for real-time detection and automatic alert to the operator when the bucket is close to underground cables, with particular attention to powered cables.

  • The device should be able to detect underground cables, like power lines, fiber optic and communication infrastructures and/or natural gas and crude oil pipelines, water and sewage pipes made of copper, steel, polyethylene or glass fiber. 
  • The device should also recognize and provide alerts also in case of proximity to aerial or unburied utilities that could represent an obstacle to machinery movements.


The system should be easy to install and remove, if needed, on/from the machine, and it should be machine manufacturer agnostic.

The device should be powered by the machine’s electrical system.

Solution requirements

Proposals must address the following solution requirements:

  • Early detection of underground cables, pipes and infrastructures;
  • Detection of live cables;
  • Alerts by visual and/or acoustic signal or all other possible alarms easily recognizable by operators;
  • Easy installation and removal on/from the machine;
  • Be machine manufacturer agnostic;
  • TRL≥6 and ready to be tested on field in 6 months.


Moreover, solutions should:

  • Detect and alert the operator in case of device proximity to aerial or unburied utilities;
  • Be powered by the machine’s electrical system (or any independent system that does not require cables);
  • Provide details on detected utility services, such as distance and type of material (steel, plastic, etc.).