Honeywell says its unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV)-based inspection service helped Arkansas-based utility Ozarks Electric Cooperative inspect more than 100 miles of power lines and provide actionable data in only five days.
According to Honeywell, inspecting the same distance can take approximately two weeks with up to 15 employees when performed on foot. It can take one day by helicopter, but this can add a higher safety risk and cost and provide lower-quality data.
Honeywell says the co-op’s utility grid spans mountains, rivers and valleys in the Ozarks Mountains, making it challenging to access transmission lines. With Honeywell’s drone inspection service, crews can work from a safer location to identify problematic areas along power lines.
Honeywell’s UAV service uses a three-step process to conduct inspections and deliver data analytics for customers: During the first phase, Honeywell works with the customer to plan the inspection and finalize the drone’s flight plan, ensuring it complies with Federal Aviation Administration regulations. Next, Honeywell’s remote pilots perform the inspection using autonomous flight management software, capturing thousands of images and raw data along the way. Finally, the imagery is run through Honeywell’s proprietary data analytics software, which is specially designed to sort, organize and tag the inspection data. This software then uses machine learning algorithms to identify potential hazards – such as vegetation encroachment or hardware defects – and prioritizes them based on how urgently they need attention. Once this process is complete, all of the imagery and findings are delivered to the customer via a Web portal that can be accessed in the field or back in the office.
“Ozarks Electric Cooperative is constantly trying to innovate and improve in areas like reliability, quality and sustainability,” says Mitchell Johnson, president and CEO of Ozarks Electric Cooperative. “Our collaboration with Honeywell helps us improve in these areas and connects us with the data analytics we need to work smarter, advance operations and add value to our members.”