Measure, a U.S. provider of drone services to enterprise customers, has announced a new drone toolkit that will enable electrical utilities to build a professional drone inspection program staffed by their own linemen, the company says.
The package trains and equips linemen to quickly and safely identify structural defects and damage on transmission lines, towers and substations – in turn, making it possible to examine known or suspected trouble spots without the time, expense and risk of mobilizing a helicopter or physically climbing a pole or tower to perform an inspection, explains Measure.
Developed by linemen for linemen, says Measure, the toolkit facilitates the process of identifying high-priority defects, such as damaged insulators, poles and conductors or broken ground wires, broken crossarms, missing aerial numbers and downed trees. Detailed image capture allows linemen to zero in on problem areas and instantly pinpoint maintenance issues from a ground control flight app in the field.
Toolkit components include as follows:
- A ready-to-fly drone;
- Comprehensive training specifically designed for inspecting transmission, distribution and other critical infrastructure while avoiding electromagnetic interferences and managing safety protocols;
- Measure Ground Control, a pre-installed flight control app that makes flying around infrastructure automated and repeatable;
- Ongoing, subscription-based support, including weekly reports on pilot and equipment activity to ensure safe flight procedures and proper maintenance of drone equipment; and
- An on-demand help desk, available either from a hotline or the service’s Web portal, to assist linemen with in-field troubleshooting, regulatory assistance and program management advice.
For electrical power generation facilities that prefer to outsource drone inspections to Measure’s pilots, the company says it has also developed easy-to-understand reporting tools that can be accessed through a secure online portal, as well as in real time through a mobile app for emergency response situations.
With Measure’s online portal, operations managers can review the inspection results on a FedRAMP-approved cloud storage system. A geographic layer provides a quick visual of inspected infrastructure, including images of the asset, as well as longitude, latitude inspection status, damage type and pilot notes. The portal provides a comprehensive historical record of all inspections, as well as a statistical view of the severity of defects and maintenance issues identified, says Measure.
In instances when real-time reporting is required, such as during storm response, Measure’s mobile app enables information sync between field inspections and emergency repair work. The real-time feedback assists utilities in managing the repair work efficiently and restoring power to their customers quickly. The system is compatible with iOS, Android and Microsoft devices.
The AES Corp., a Fortune 200 power generation company, and Measure have worked to develop these solutions over the past year.
“Our drone programs make it possible for electrical utilities to reduce corrective maintenance costs, improve asset life and expedite the process of restoring power after a natural disaster,” comments Harjeet Johal, Measure’s vice president of energy infrastructure. “Whether you’re using our Utility Toolkit to give linemen a valuable new tool in their truck or our expert drone pilots to do the work for you, we offer powerful new strategies for helping to keep the electrical grid up and running safely, efficiently and cost-effectively.”