Australian firm DataDot has begun formal trials of its asset authentication to prevent rising theft of copper cables in utility industries such as telecommunications and power.
The firm – best known for manufacturing tiny spray-on 'dots' that can be used to trace a stolen vehicle or parts – has commenced four trials of the technology outside its traditional stronghold in the automotive sector.
Executive chairman Bruce Rathie told iTnews that two trial projects involve Australian power utilities wanting to prevent copper cable theft at substation sites.
"What worries power companies the most is not only the economic loss but also their duty of care to people who may come into contact with their substations, be that the criminal or the repairman," Rathie said.
"Invariably, what [a criminal] takes is the piece of copper that actually earths the equipment. That piece of equipment therefore is live", heightening the risk to the thief or a repairer.
Rathie said a separate trial of the technology is occurring with a telecommunications provider in the United States.
Although firms could essentially retrofit the dot technology - called DataDot Plus - to existing cables, DataDot is also working with an intermediary in Europe to spray the dots onto new copper cables during manufacturing.
Part of the technology rollout to other industries means setting up a new database to track copper cable assets that have the anti-theft technology applied to them.
The database will allow copper recyclers to check before purchasing scrap metal to determine whether or not the cable has been stolen.
It is not the first time that utilities have sought DataDot technology to prevent copper theft.
Endeavour Energy told iTnews last year that the company had implanted serial numbers on its copper cables using DataDot technology to identify it as the owner of the cables.
At the time, the company had not suffered any thefts of the microdotted copper.
The NSW Government has also considered the potential of greater regulation of the scrap metal industry in an attempt to clamp down on widespread thefts of the increasingly valuable resource.