The use of drones has been growing in the energy sector because of the lower upfront costs of equipment and the efficiencies they provide for existing operations.
Fremont, CA: The application of drones in the energy sector is increasing every day, thanks to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) who passed Part 107, allowing the use of large-scale, licensed commercial drone work. The credit of faster adoption of drones goes to the lower upfront costs of equipment and the efficiencies they provide for existing operations. Even though the drone technology is in the infancy stage, the technology has shifted from fringe cases and internal exploratory studies to enterprise-wide programs implemented across large and medium-sized worldwide. Drones provide accurate data for informed decision making. Also, they offer practical solutions for everyday problems in power transmission & distribution, solar, and wind. Drones reduce costs for maintenance, repairs, and inspections improving efficiency and core competency across operations.
The data that drones provide is invaluable as they capture accurate images and data of the equipment. However, the analysis of the images is the most significant part of the integrated drone data program. Intelligent drone data can save thousands of dollars and hundreds of man-hours while providing accurate business information. In wind and transmission and distribution applications, drones can provide detailed images of defects that help in the maintenance and stops the damage from increasing further. Manual inspection methods are limited and cannot capture tower, pole, and turbine images as efficiently as drones. In solar applications, drones can easily spot sub-module defects. This availability of data helps asset managers make better decisions about maintenance optimizing their maintenance and minimizing downtime.
With a single drone flight, the inspectors can understand the condition of any site at any time of the year. Moreover, during construction, the progress can be compared through imagery with the site plans to gauge whether the progress is as planned. The data generated by drones with an inspection is easily consumable regardless of its size. The data can be delivered through a smartphone app allowing personnel to head to the identified defects location.
The data generated by drone technology is documented, and it lives forever. Storage of data allows energy plants to perform a comparison with the inspection data of the previous year to make smart decisions about future work. Asset managers can compare the health of the equipment across multiple sites with previously generated data. Thus, data generated by drones provide efficiency, detail, and flexibility.
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