Drones & Utilities: Inspections, Safety, Risk Assessment and More

At Location Intelligence & Design, we keep a close eye on a wide variety of the industries that we serve in order to help our client base understand the ever evolving role of drone technology.

And in the world of electrical, hydro and nuclear energy generation, water utilities and other organizations there is a widespread recognition that the insight gained from drone technology can play a vital role in several key areas.

Here’s a few of the stories we’ve tracked

  • In Cashmere, Washington state, a drone was used successfully to examine the overall safety and architectural integrity of the local water reservoir after excessive snow led to a partial collapse of the 46 year old roof. Drones allow for inspection of previously un-inspectable or unsafe-to-inspect areas – in this case, inside a dark and dangerous reservoir
  • In Kuala Lumpur, a water treatment plant in Sungai Semenyih was forced to shut down due to concerns with chemical waste runoff. A drone was successfully used to examine potential river contaminants.
  • Hunter Water, in Newcastle Australia north of Sydney, a thermal sensing drone was used to find a previously impossible-to-detect water leak in the local water system, saving countless hours of effort and a significant amount of money
  • PPL Electrical Utilities in Pennsylvania has made drone inspection flyovers a key component of its effort to find and identify downed power lines, part of an overall plan that has seen a 30% reduction in the number of power outages system wide since 2011
  • Utilities must quickly assess overall grid integrity and potential damage after wind, ice and other storms. The much beleaguered California PG&E has been integrating drone inspection flights into its integrity plan for several years now
  • The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power has formalized plans to accelerate the use of drones for inspection as one part of its fire management and minimization plan within its “It Only Takes a Spark: Enhancing DWPs Wildfire Prevention Strategy” effort
  • At Imperial College in London, England, research is underway to develop autonomous drone inspection technology to aid in the assessment of the operating and structural integrity of offshore wind farms

Of course, drones aren’t always a great fit for electrical utilities – and in the case of an embarrassed resident of British Columbia, who caused a power outage in their own home after hitting their own power line with a drone – making BC Hydro’s list of their most memorable power failures of 2019!

What does this insight suggest? Utilities are rapidly discovering that drone technology can play a key role in system inspection and monitoring, post-emergency assessment and so much more.

At Location Intelligence & Design, we can assist you with your flyover needs – including solar farm, windmill and power line inspection services. Contact us for more details!

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