Electricity is a vital tool in running every activity from businesses to hospitals and even your toilet. What happens when you lose power? It costs you money and time and disrupts activities in places like hospitals.
The power lines that transport electricity are the ones to blame and the electric companies. Why? They are required to inspect the power lines in order to ensure that they are in good working condition and there’s nothing disrupting the flow of electricity.
- 1 What Is Power Line Inspection?
- 2 New Power Line Inspection Techniques
- 3 Power Line Inspection Automation Advantages
- 4 Conclusion
What Is Power Line Inspection?
Power line inspection is the checking of the status of the transmission line. Inspection is important because the public today don’t appreciate new lines coming up. Hence the need to inspect because the demand for electricity is ever on the rise. The term known in the industry for this type of inspection is clearance distance inspection or vegetation undercut detection.
Why inspect power lines?
It’s very important for electricity companies to check their power lines to ensure no vegetation is growing too close to them to cause disruption. In addition, should there be a fault in the transmission line, it can be quickly repaired.
Inspection is also important in order to carry out maintenance. This reduces the amount of money spent should the power line fail, installing a new one. Power line inspection helps in avoiding disruption in places like hospitals where patients on life support machines depend on it.
Challenges faced during inspection
Traditional power line inspection is done physically with the help of automated lifts or cranes and helicopters. This prevents a very challenging situation, as some terrains are hard to reach since there is a lot of vegetation cover.
Another challenge is man-related accidents. As you are aware, electricity-related deaths although rare do occur. This may be caused by fatigue, incompetency or just plain human error.
The third challenge is that it’s time-consuming. The amount of time it takes to manually inspect a single power line is extended. The line has to be temporarily turned off to enable the inspection to take place.
New Power Line Inspection Techniques
With the innovation of technology, electricity companies using conventional inspection methods like cranes and helicopters can now use automated power line inspection.
Currently, there is two main power line inspection robots that are in use are UAVs (Unmanned Ariel Vehicles) or vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) and Rolling on Wires Robots (RWT).
Why automated power line inspection
Automating a power line inspection is important in that it saves the electricity companies monies. This is due to the fact that, when there is a fracture, wear and tear on a line, it’s quickly detected and dealt with. Rather than waiting for it to happen and spending a lump sum to install a new line.
Electricity company workers are prevented from either sustaining severe to fatal injuries, which is usually electrocution, by high voltage power lines. If you didn’t know, electricity boils your blood and fries your heart.
With automatic power line inspection, you reduce the risk of human error, which can lead to disruption of supply, severe and even fatal injuries. This is because the machines have taken over the work done by humans.
The technologies used in power line inspection
Since the late 90s, there have been three technologies developed for automated inspection of power line. They include:
- LineROVer, which was created in 2000-Although its main purpose was de-icing, it’s designed to function on 315Kv transmission wires (live) for infra-red and camera, taking resistance measurements, and changing high up line wires and worn out conductors
- In 2003, LineScout operated on 2-,4- and 6-bundles of conductor. It was mainly used to cross obstacles on the lines (suspension clamps and space dumpers) in about 1 second
- In 2008, Tokyo Institute of Technology, HiBort Corp. and, Kansai Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO) collaborated on a project to create Expliner. It was designed to inspect bundles of up to four power lines together and has the capability of operating on lines of up to 500kV.
Now, the Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) have taken over automation inspection of power line. They save on costs precious time when it comes to evaluating power lines.
Although cost reduction and time management is the main advantages electricity companies gain from automated inspection, they also can enjoy 3-D mapping with UAVs conducting real-time live power line inspections.
The UAV technology enables electricity companies to inspect their lines live while identifying potential problems hence getting them repaired promptly. This is essential in improving maintenance schedules, safety, and cost reduction.
The technology used by the UAVs is:
- State-of-the-art image processing and acquisition software
- 3-D imaging
- 3-D point interactive cloud data
- Quantitative scanning
- Heat imaging
Power Line Inspection Automation Advantages
Automation of power line inspection does these three things that help electricity companies:
- Saves precious time and maintenance and repair costs
- Ensures employee well-being
- Improves maintenance regime
Many companies provide drone and UAVs power line monitoring, but Aeriosense is one that stands out. Just to give you a brief who Aeriosense are, they are a leading drone-based automation inspection technology company. What makes them stand out in power line automation?
- Provide detailed on power lines
- During inspection flights, a technician provides real-time reports about the condition of the power line
- Sophisticated drone that can reach any point
- Frequent reporting of the power line condition from the same point
- Detailed flight plans
Drone-based technologies or UAVs have replaced the traditional power line inspection in the sense that electricity companies can now effectively handle their inspection. This has helped them reduce maintenance and repair costs, well set up maintenance regimes and guarantee their employees safety.
This technology is not new in the industry, as many electricity companies have embraced it for quite some time. The simplicity it brings to power line inspection makes it a much needed and sort after device. Every electricity company should think about automating in power line inspection.