Aerial inspections of sub-stations, tower assets and power lines reduce fire hazards, corrective maintenance costs and improve asset life without the associated risk of traditional inspections. High resolution imagery captured by UAVs allows for easier, safer, and more efficient identification and analysis of structural defects, hotspots, and other anomalies.
UAV Programs Add Significant Value to Your Projects
Drones provide safe, efficient inspections and data collection for businesses across the energy industry. Trained pilots and experienced data analysts use drone technology to drastically reduce inspection time, save labor costs and reduce hazardous man-hours, while providing higher quality data that enables companies to maximize energy production.
Keeping ‘boots on the ground’ is one of the most obvious benefits of drones. Crews can get a close up view of a potential defect without climbing or using a bucket truck. Drones can also help avoid risks related to traversing across private property, accessing poorly maintained or dangerous right-of-way areas, and dealing with unknown conditions following a storm.
Quick Return on Investment
Many of the commercial drones in use today are off-shoots of the recreational drone market. The types of drones that are commonly deployed by ground crews for line inspections or post-disaster assessments, such as the DJI P4P, are reasonably priced. Operation is also relatively simple making adoption easy and enabling quick return on investment.
The cost of equipment, training, software, and support for an internal drone program pays for itself 5x over with just 50 miles of utility lines inspected plus 1 substation inspection.
The energy industry has always been a leader in utilizing Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and remote sensing data to monitor infrastructure and make decisions. From mapping out critical infrastructure to right-of- way management, utilities have built extensive databases of geographic information. One of the best ways to maximize the return on your drone inspections is to integrate drone data into your existing workflow.
Prior to flying, each pilot will need to understand the data required and any data collection or flight path specifications. If the data collected will require data processing and analysis, a pre-flight meeting with the data team is recommended. Drone data follows the old computer-science adage, ‘garbage in, garbage out,’ meaning no amount of magic can turn improperly collected data into a valuable data product.
Before and upon arriving at the job site, the pilot will need to conduct a thorough assessment of the operating environment. Each pilot is responsible for following safe, legal flying practices. Measure also recommends:
Detailed flight plan
Airspace and weather checks
Risk assessment and safety review
Pre- and post-flight checklists
In order to ensure that the data collected meets the project needs, Measure pilots also conduct quality checks with the data team, typically at several intervals, during complex jobs. This helps to reduce the chance of having to return and re- fly a job site due to poor data quality.