Nguyen Tri Hieu, a highly skilled lineworker at the age of 55, is dedicated to his role as a line erector. Leading a proficient power line repair team in the esteemed central province of Quang Ngai, Hieu expertly maneuvers between various power lines with the aid of a customized bicycle that is connected to the suspended cables.

Although onlookers may be taken aback by Hieu and his team’s utilization of this distinctive contraption, it is often overlooked that it is indeed an exceptional invention originating from Vietnam.

Assisting co-workers is an essential part of being a team player. By helping our colleagues, we can contribute to a positive work environment and foster collaboration.

Every morning, Hieu diligently starts his day in his office located in Nghia Chanh District, Quang Ngai City. He meticulously reviews the detailed reports generated by his team’s on-site inspections of 220kV power lines.

Our reports play a crucial role in identifying faults and facilitating repairs to prevent power outages within the city.

Maintenance of Power Lines in the City

Hieu and his team of 14 professionals are tasked with the crucial responsibility of ensuring the efficient functioning and upkeep of 150km of power lines in the city.

Each member of our team has the responsibility of maintaining approximately 10km of power lines. Given that the high-voltage 500kV and 220kV lines are situated at high altitudes, spanning across mountains, fields, and rivers, detecting any faults becomes an arduous task, as Hieu elucidated.

Regularly monitoring the condition of power lines is crucial, as neglecting this task may result in disruptive power outages of considerable magnitude.

With a career spanning over 25 years, Hieu has witnessed significant advancements in the field of electrical engineering. Starting in 1993, he has been at the forefront of these changes, particularly in the way Vietnamese engineers navigate power lines.

In the early days of the profession, linemen were required to manually handle their protective gear while also braving the perils of dangling from damaged power lines to carry out repairs. The presence of strong gusts further intensified the inherent risks associated with this work.

Hieu and his team eventually implemented a pulley system that enabled a lineman to suspend from the line and be transported between locations by a fellow team member stationed on the ground.

“According to Hieu, the utilization of the pulley system was often complicated due to power lines traversing hills and rivers.”

Discovering a Breakthrough: The Upside-Down Bicycle

In his relentless pursuit to find the most efficient and safe method of traveling along power lines, Hieu encountered various challenges. However, in 2011, he finally experienced a “eureka” moment that led to a groundbreaking solution – the upside-down bicycle.

Throughout the development phase of the bicycle, Hieu encountered numerous obstacles. One significant challenge was the creation of a prototype pulley capable of fitting the shape and size of the power lines.

“In order to address the issue, Hieu made the necessary adjustment by incorporating a second pulley into the design of the prototype bicycle,” explained Hieu.

The final design for the bicycle, as envisioned by Hieu, features an iron frame capable of suspension from power lines. Additionally, it incorporates two wheels that enable smooth back-and-forth movement.

Hieu explained that his design focused on ensuring optimal control over speed by creating brake pads, levers, and gears for the bike.

Other components, including a seat post, saddle, and hooks, have been meticulously designed with functionality as the guiding principle. As a result, the final products provide workers with seamless and secure mobility while carrying out their tasks at elevated heights.

Engineer Nguyen Tri Hieu stands next to his invention, which can move along power lines. Photo: Tran Mai / Tuoi Tre News

Engineer Nguyen Tri Hieu stands next to his invention, which can move along power lines. Photo: Tran Mai / Tuoi Tre News

Benefiting an entire industry

Since its invention, Hieu’s prototype has been widely adopted by linemen across Vietnam who greatly value the safety it offers during their work.

In contrast to the current practice, wherein workers use bicycles with confidence, the initial testing phase of the bicycle proved to be highly stressful. It had previously been tested solely within the confines of a workshop, and now it faced the daunting challenge of being suspended precariously from a 220kV power line, several meters above the ground.

During the initial test of the bicycle, Hieu provided guidance to his team members from the ground as they put the bike to use.

“Prior to riding, please ensure the fastening of your seatbelts and adequately prepare yourself. It is essential to exercise caution and proceed at a controlled pace. The safety of both yourself and others must always be the top priority,” he advised his team.

Hieu expressed his nervousness, despite his thorough anticipation of any possible incidents beforehand. He likened the situation to a parent’s anxiety when their child takes an exam, even though they are confident in their child’s knowledge, there is still a concern for their performance.

Despite his concerns, Hieu had taken appropriate measures to ensure the safety of his bicycle design. The bicycle was specifically designed to withstand weights of over 100 kilograms, and additional safety features such as a safety belt and reinforced frame were incorporated into the design.

In 2011, Hieu’s initiative earned him a prize at the Quang Ngai Province Creativity Contest. This came shortly after he invented the bicycle.

In recognition of his exceptional creativity in his professional endeavors, he was bestowed with the prestigious Certificate of Creativity in Work by the Vietnam General Confederation of Labor.

The invention created by Hieu has now gained widespread adoption among linemen in Quang Ngai and throughout the country. Over the years, it has undergone various redesigns that have incorporated additional safety and comfort features.

According to Vo Trung, the leader of the Quang Ngai Power Transmission team, Hieu’s bicycle enables linemen to complete their work three times faster and with a significantly higher level of safety.

Trung emphasizes the utmost priority to be safety, as it contributes to a more comfortable and efficient work environment for workers, relieving them from excessive exertion.

Hieu takes great pride in the widespread adoption of his invention by linemen across Vietnam and its endorsement by the National Transmission Corporation.

As we embark on the era of Industry 4.0, it is crucial for us to embrace innovation and continuously strive for faster and more efficient solutions. A prime example of this can be seen in the work of our esteemed colleague. Throughout his career, he has consistently demonstrated a commitment to pushing boundaries and finding innovative solutions. His achievements have not only greatly benefited our organization but have also served as an inspiration to his younger colleagues. We hope that they will continue to follow in his footsteps and seek out innovative ways to improve their own work.

About the Artist

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Known for his creativity

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Dang Le Minh Man, the director of Quang Ngai Transmission Corporation, acknowledged Nguyen Tri Hieu for his remarkable innovative contributions spanning three decades.

However, due to the exceptional efficiency of the bicycle, his other endeavors have not garnered as much recognition.

“The bicycle has greatly improved our efficiency by reducing the time required to inspect and repair damaged power lines,” Man explained.

Man, Hieu, and their team have recently implemented several innovative ideas into their work. They have successfully utilized drones for power line inspections and have also developed improved drones for effectively dealing with fly threads that get entangled in the power lines.

We express our sincere gratitude to Hieu for his significant contribution to the power sector,” said Man.

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