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How Drones make Energy and Utilities Management safer and more efficient

Critical assets such as turbines, substations, and pipelines are the veins that distribute energy to our society. Routine inspection and maintenance is essential to the longevity of the utilities and energy sector. Failure to maintain these assets can result in costly outages or disastrous implications. Organizations face unique challenges such as accessibility, safety and inefficiencies when performing routine inspections. Drone technology provides a viable solution that addresses these challenges effectively.

Applications:

Wind turbines: Inspectors are faced with navigating hazardous environments such as extreme heights and other environmental factors when performing manual inspections on turbines. Climbing and repelling from structures is not only dangerous, but highly inefficient. Our team has successfully inspected over 1700 turbines in 2019 utilizing drone and LiDar technologies.

Power lines: traditional methods include climbing or having helicopters fly close to these high voltage towers. This method is not only extremely dangerous but also time consuming and expensive. Drone and UV Corona sensors enable inspectors to safely and efficiently inspect and document the corona effects from power lines and generators. Furthermore, Drone and LiDar sensor technologies can create accurate point-cloud data for analysis and detection of line sagging and intrusions such as vegetation.

Solar farms: vast inspections of solar panel arrays is expensive due to the extensive manual labor required. This means sparse inspections are performed on roughly only 10% of sites, resulting in major inefficiencies that affect stakeholders and consumers. Traditional methods of inspection can also be highly inaccurate as some issues are undetectable to the human eye. Drone and thermal imaging technology enables organizations to inspect vast amounts of panels and document mynute defects in order to send in crews for repair or replacement.

Pipelines: energy regulators have found success in implementing drones for pipeline compliance inspections. Enabling inspectors to eliminate hours of trekking across difficult terrain to a matter of minutes in the air. This resulted in thousands of hours saved per year for inspectors, while providing quality actionable data.

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