The future of predictive maintenance of powerline assets using drones

A unique solution for real-time monitoring, analysis and visualization of powerline insulators uses high-resolution images captured by drones. These images are combined with intelligent data, cloud computing, artificial intelligence, deep learning and smart video analytics to detect anomalies. The faults include cracks or structural deformities.
One of the key challenges of the power transmission industry is the ability to quickly identify emerging defects in powerline insulators. Traditional methods of inspection cost more, are time consuming, require intensive resources and are risky with human intervention. The solution must therefore replace conventional, outdated methods with more accurate, faster, safer, and automated methods of powerline insulator inspection.
Powerline breakdowns severely impact revenue and customer experience hence they need to be reduced to a minimum.

Inspections of power transmission lines involve both preventive maintenance and breakdown. This is to localize and assess fault severity. Conventional methods generally consist of a visual walk-through or drive-by inspection using hand held instruments. These traditional methods are time consuming, leading to slower resolution of faults and defects. This results in lost revenue for the utility company and also adversely impacts customer experience. Further, in the aftermath of natural calamities such as cyclones or storms, or during power transmission breakdown, human inspections are necessary before re-energization for the safety of life and to protect transmission assets. The use of inspection methods using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or deploying drones equipped with high-resolution cameras, digital radiography, to capture visual and thermal images is suggested as a modern solution.
A robust solution for powerline transmission inspection leverages drones, image analytics and seamless integration with a range of software.
This solution has been developed for real-time monitoring, visualization and analysis of powerline transmission insulators. Drones capture high resolution images to detect faults. It makes use of 5G communication technology for real time video streaming and transfer of images, which accelerates defect processing and decision making.

Operation and maintenance field crews make use of image analytics to develop maintenance strategies. They use aerial data insights captured from drones to proactively manage faults, to avoid costly breakdowns, service breaches and reputational damage to the power transmission company. Data analytics also helps to quickly attend to defects and restore the system. There is a seamless integration with transmission utilities software applications. The reliability of the transmission system is considerably improved through proactive fault management, which directly impacts revenue, maintenance efficiency as well as regulatory and service commitments.
Other transmission line assets can be monitored through this solution as well.
The solution can be scaled and extended to monitor power line insulators, transmission line assets such as tower structures, spacers, joints, conductors, vibration dampers and features including transmission line sags / ground clearance and vegetation undergrowth.

The benefits of the solution are as follows:

  1. Better situational awareness of powerline insulators and other network assets
  2. Enhanced personal and asset safety during transmission line inspections
  3. Condition-based predictive maintenance and faster defect restoration
  4. Optimizing maintenance strategy, resources, and operational expenditure
  5. Improved reliability and availability of transmission lines
  6. Compliance with health, safety, and regulatory performance standards
  7. Contribution to sustainability due to reduced breakdowns and losses.
This drone-based analytic solution can also be deployed for the inspection of water and gas utilities for defect identification.