Powerlines

Our Services

  • Identify predictive maintenance 
  • Thermal and LiDAR technology to inspect and monitor powerlines and tower corridors  
  • 3D modelling  
  • Automated flights and repeat inspections  
  • Corridor mapping  
  • Corona detection/Substation static line detection 
  • Data management, storage and analysis  
  • Monitor vegetation encroachment  
  • Detect and assess transmission line damage  
  • Full coverage/ariel view of site 
  • HD images and footage of site  

Sky to Cloud Data Reporting 

High-quality data collected during UAV inspection is relayed in clear, annotated reports, digitally formatted to be accessed conveniently from a desk, providing actionable information to clients, and enabling easy and efficient asset management. Our data storage and reporting solutions offer:

  • Cloud based platform 
  • Reporting portal which allows stakeholders to review and report upon vast data stores, quickly and easily.  
  • Defects and damages are easily annotated and assigned severity ratings, enabling swift remedial action to be taken according to priority. 
  • Reports have multiple user access and multiple export formats.  
  • In-house data storage, archiving and analytics capabilities.  

Full, turn-key solutions and support

Vantage UAV deliver turnkey solutions from full project management, flight planning and piloting, offering comprehensive support from initial consultation to final report. Our range of services and industry experts allow us to craft bespoke solutions to data management and provision challenges. 

Vantage UAV collaborate closely with clients to understand their challenges, workflow, aims and provide the best solutions. Support is always available, from real people, whenever you need it. 

Powerlines  

The increased demand for electricity in recent years has led to substantial growth within the powerline construction industry – and a growing need to manage and maintain rapidly expanding powerline networks efficiently and effectively to ensure reliable power supply and transmission.  

With an increase in volatile weather events across the US, such as wildfires, storms, and hurricanes, maintaining reliable power in the US has become challenging. Power failures and disruption have become commonplace; a 2018 survey found that one in four companies experience a power outage at least once a month. (1) 

The social and economic stakes are high for companies, end users and the communities who are dependent upon the power supply. Recent estimates reveal outages are costing the U.S. economy up to $150 billion annually (1), and with power keeping society connected and functioning effectively, protecting power supply and transmission is paramount.  

Vantage UAV has the solution; our drone-based inspection services are superior to traditional methods of inspection in the speed, agility, efficiency, and high-quality data provision capabilities they lend to the powerline sector. The rise in the use of drone-technology speaks to the benefits; by 2026, Navigant Research predicts that power grid companies will spend $13 billion per year on drones and robotics, globally. (2) 

Don’t get left behind – join the future with Vantage UAV and integrate drone-technology into your power operations to save costs, time, safeguard power assets and supplies and enable easy, efficient decisions regarding maintenance and management. Whatever the size of your portfolio, we craft bespoke solutions to suit you, your needs and aims.  

Want to know more? Keep reading!  

 

Key Uses   

Structure Maintenance and Preservation  

Drone-based inspection provides an expansive aerial view, allowing issues such as stress points, severed connections, damaged transmission lines and insulators, animal and environmental damage, conductor corrosion and vibration damage, to be identified and captured in HD images and footage.  

Drones can collect accurate, high-quality data on damage and defects, fast, which enables maintenance and repairs to be organized and executed swiftly as technicians can plan and prepare equipment ahead of time. Power failures can also be avoided, as early detection of issues along power lines and stations allows important decisions to be made and action to be taken before damage escalates, whilst historic data collected during past flights can be used to identify weaknesses and anticipate future faults.  

 

Identify & Monitor Vegetative Encroachment  

The encroachment of vegetation is a perennial threat to powerline infrastructure.  

The vast aerial scope provided by drones allows surrounding vegetation and trees to be captured in HD footage and images to be monitored, even in hard to reach or inhospitable terrain, so that risks to the structure can be assessed and tracked.  

Vantage UAV utilize LiDAR technology to monitor and preempt vegetation encroachment or tree falls. LiDAR works by targeting an area with a laser and measuring the time taken for reflected light to return to a receiver; these light pulses can then be used to generate 3D models of the area and its surface. 

Drones equipped with LiDAR, survey and measure target areas of powerline infrastructure during multiple flights to create high-density point clouds which are used to generate a 3D map revealing the distance between powerlines and vegetation. As a result, operators can avoid clearing large areas and can prioritize action in areas most at threat of destabilizing power. LiDAR also provides vital information on wires and can alert operators to sagging wires or trees which could fall and cause power loss.  

LiDAR is fast, conducting measurements across vast areas in seconds and providing actionable information that makes crucial decision making simple and easy.  

 

Detect and Investigate Defects and Failures 

Defects and failures, such as environmental damage or wear and tear from vibration, can be detected and captured in HD camera footage and images during drone flights and easily reviewed via our specialist data platforms for convenient condition management and tracking.  

Drone-technology can also detect issues invisible to the naked eye, without shutting down powerlines. Without specialist technology, corona discharge can only be seen at night or detected audibly, by listening for buzzing noises that may occur; both methods are inefficient, unsafe, and often cannot accurately determine the source of corona discharge.  

Vantage UAV utilize a corona camera (NEED TO CHECK WE CAN DO THIS) during inspection which highlights UV light that appears when nitrogen interacts with a power leak. By overlaying regular footage, in which ultra-violet light is filtered out, and footage from a specialized UV camera, corona can be visualized and the source accurately pinpointed, even in broad daylight.  

Corona discharge can produce noise which disturbs local wildlife, electromagnetic energy that can interfere with surrounding components and emits gases which, when met with water vapor, can damage and corrode conductors and insulators which can lead to fires or explosions. Drone inspections utilizing corona detection are therefore paramount to protecting and maintaining the condition of powerline systems and preventing costly or dangerous faults.

Uses & Benefits

Cost & Time Efficient

How our solutions reduce your operating cost in the short and long term.

Challenge

Traditional methods of powerline inspection are time-consuming, expensive, and often involve substantial periods of downtime. As regular inspections are needed to identify issues across powerlines and to organize preventative maintenance, inspection can quickly become a high-cost operation.  

For instance, the average contract for a helicopter power line inspection can cost over $4,000 per day and utility companies who opt to buy their own helicopter can spend up to $2 million, not including additional operation, maintenance, and repair costs (4). Manual or ground-based inspections are high cost due to their intricate, hazardous, time-consuming nature and, as powerlines are often required to be non-operational during inspection, also incur downtime costs.  

Despite the cost and time involved, traditional inspection methods are less accurate, and harvest low-quality data in comparison to drone-based methods. If, as a result, faults or issues go undetected, the sector faces even higher costs associated with large scale repairs or power failure. According to PwC, the sector loses around $170 billion annually due to network failures and shutdowns (5). 

Solution

Drone-based inspections are cost and time effective and lower the risk of shutdowns or costly repairs by providing high-quality data and insight on power assets. Navigant Research recently estimated that using a drone could cut the cost of a single transmission tower inspection from $5,000 to $200 (6) Most drone-based inspections can be performed when powerlines are operational, limiting downtime and maintaining power connection.

Unrivalled Insight, Data Provision and Analysis

More in depth data

Challenge

Helicopter and ground inspections often fail to detect small scale damage as their proximity to power infrastructure is limited.  

Defects and damages detected during manual inspection are recorded and fed back to operators so that repairs can be undertaken; due to the expansive nature of powerline structures, it is hard to accurately record the location of faults and to relocate them for repair. Often, data collected via helicopter and manual inspection must be separately processed and analyzed by the operator so that maintenance and repair work can be organized and prioritized. This requires additional time, software, and expertise outside of the initial inspection phase.  

Vegetation encroachment is an issue which can quickly escalate and cause major faults or power loss without consistent monitoring and swift intervention. Due to the onerous, time consuming and high-cost nature of traditional inspection methods, regular, repeat inspections and monitoring may not be feasible, risking valuable insight and the opportunity to preempt serious issues.  

Solution

Due to the sophisticated technology and agility of drones, faster, higher quality data collection is possible during inspections compared to traditional methods as drones can access difficult or dangerous areas and obtain a proximity to powerlines to detect small scale faults. Any anomalies or defects are georeferenced upon detection, speeding up repair work by providing an accurate location so that risk and access assessments can be undertaken beforehand.  

The scope enabled by drones and accompanying technologies such as LiDAR and corona detection, allow a thorough, multi-dimensional view of the inspection area superior to the view available via helicopter and manual inspection.  

Any faults or damages found during inspection are recorded and are processed by Vantage UAV specialist cloud-based data portals. Annotated reports are then generated, organizing vast swathes of data in a highly accessible, simplistic format; defects are also color-coded by priority, making decisions on vital repairs or preventative maintenance easy and straightforward. Vantage UAV’s cloud- based data storage system allows historic data to be accessed and assessed easily providing vital insight into weaknesses or patterns so that additional intervention can be organized easily.  

Full Powerline Scope

Survey and Access

Challenge

Height or ground access at the proximity required to perform accurate inspection is often impossible or unsafe for technicians and rope access does not offer a comprehensive overview of powerline structures. Helicopters cannot be flown in adverse weather conditions and their proximity to powerlines is limited.  

Solution

Due to the agility and dexterity of drones, and the quality of camera technology, large areas can be covered during drone-based inspection, thoroughly and quickly. The vantage provided by drones enables a wider scope of powerline infrastructure allowing external elements, such as vegetation and the surrounding area, to be considered when evaluating their effect on operations and making crucial decisions.  

Vantage UAV drones can access and withstand hazardous, inhospitable locations and harsh weather conditions, enabling a safe and reliable assessment of power structures following extreme weather events or natural disasters. 

Safer inspections and powerlines

Safety is our priority 

Challenge

Traditional methods of powerline inspection require technicians to access transmission lines with ropes, fly close to them via helicopter, or survey them from the ground- all of which are highly dangerous. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the fatality rate of electrical power line installers and repairers is around 20 deaths per 100,000 workers, with an annual average of 26 electrocutions. (3) 

Solution

Vantage UAV drone-based inspections greatly reduce the need for workers to access heights or risk electrical exposure. Requiring no rope access, helicopters and able to cover difficult terrain, hazardous areas, and extreme weather, safely and efficiently, drone-based inspections ensure that issues are accurately detected and preempted, so that maintenance can be pre-planned and performed only when necessary.  

Drone inspections can also detect potential danger to the wider public. Sagging powerlines or fallen trees following a storm can pose a threat in traffic-dense areas and damage farming equipment, such as tractors, and damaged or failed insulation materials can cause discharge failures, risking explosions or fires. Our drone-based inspections can quickly identify and flag these issues, enabling swift action to be taken and simplifying community safeguarding. 

Environment

Keep your operation green

Challenge

Helicopter powerline inspections incur Scope 3 emissions and cause disruption and stress to wildlife.

Solution

Drone-based inspections significantly reduce Scope 3 emissions compared to traditional methods of inspection and are less intrusive and noisy, avoiding distress to the surrounding wildlife.

Sector Specifics: Inspections in the Telecommunication Industry  

Telecommunications are an integral form of power infrastructure, responsible for key modes of communication within both public and private spheres. It is paramount that communication is reliably maintained or retrieved in the event of adverse weather events and natural disasters so that emergency services are contactable.  

Fortunately, Vantage UAV drone-based services offer the telecommunications industry a smart, safe, and efficient route to achieving reliable connectivity! 

 

Benefits:  

  • Safe inspection – reducing technician height access 
  • HD footage and images of mast and physical damages  
  • Accurate detection of network coverage interference  
  • Low Scope 3 emissions – eliminating the use of helicopters or bucket trucks during the inspection phase and limiting scaffolding waste.  
  • Findings can inform increased connectivity and solve or preempt reoccurring issues   
  • Ability to survey masts comprehensively, despite difficult or inhospitable location  
  • Close proximity inspection to vital network carrier components whilst avoiding obstacles 
  • Ecological: check for nests without disturbing birds  
  • Drones can withstand adverse weather conditions and provide access over inhospitable terrain  
  • Fast inspection time means more masts can be inspected in shorter time periods, relative to other methods  
  • Ability to generate 3D digital twin of masts, allowing continual surveyance and monitoring  
  • In-flight data stored and analyzed within specialized Cloud Software and organized in annotated reports designed to be simple and easily accessible, making decision within telecommunications straightforward and stress-free. 
  • Historic data storage enables fault patterns or reoccurrences to be identified and mitigated. 

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