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Drones – the key to the future of predictive maintenance of powerline assets



The ability to quickly identify emerging defects in powerline insulators is one of the key challenges of the power transmission industry. Conventional methods of powerline insulator inspection are costly, time-consuming, resource-intensive, and even risky. The transmission utilities must therefore replace outdated methods with faster, automated, more accurate, and safer modern methods of insulator inspection.Please allow statistical cookies to see this Youtube embed

Breakdowns need to be reduced to a minimum as they severely impact revenue and customer experience

Transmission line inspections are carried out as part of both breakdown and preventive maintenance, to localize and assess fault severity . Traditional methods generally comprise visual walk-through or drive-by inspection using hand-held instruments. This process is generally time-consuming, leading to slower resolution of faults and defects. It results not only in lost revenue for utilities companies, but also adversely impacts customer experience. Also, line inspections are necessary before re-energization, for the safety of life and transmission assets in the aftermath of natural calamities, such as cyclones or storms, or during transmission system breakdown. Modern inspection methods are increasingly deploying drones or UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles), which use high-resolution cameras to capture visual and thermal images.

Capgemini offers a robust solution for powerline inspection, leveraging drones, image analytics and seamless integration with SAP, SCADA, OMS & GIS

Capgemini’s E&U Industry hub has developed a unique solution for real-time monitoring, visualization, and analysis of powerline insulators. The solution uses high-end images of powerline insulators captured by drones and combines intelligent data capturing, cloud computing, deep learning and smart video analytics to detect insulator faults, such as developing cracks or structural deformities. It leverages 5G communication technology for real-time video streaming and image transfer, which accelerates defect processing and decision making.

Drones - predictive maintenance of powerline assets

The image analytics help O&M field crews develop maintenance strategies and use aerial data insights to proactively manage faults, thereby avoiding costly breakdowns, service breaches, and reputational damage to the utilities company. The analytics also helps quickly attend to defects and restore the system.

The key differentiator of the Capgemini solution is its seamless integration with transmission utilities applications such SAP, SCADA, OMS, and GIS. The solution has the potential to considerably improve the reliability of the transmission system through proactive fault management, which has a direct impact on the utilities’ revenue and maintenance efficiency, as well as regulatory and service commitments.

This solution can be extended to monitor other transmission line assets as well

The solution is scalable and can be extended to monitor not just powerline insulators, but also other transmission line assets, such as tower structure, conductors, joints, spacers, vibration dampers, and features including transmission line sags (ground clearance) and vegetation undergrowth. The solution provides transmissions utilities the following tangible and intangible benefits :

  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.

Our drone-based analytics solution can also be effectively deployed for the inspection and defect identification of the water and gas utilities infrastructures.

To learn more about this solution or see it live in action, contact :

Bragadesh Damodaran, Senior Director – Energy & Utility IndustryHub

Jayant Sinha, SME Energy & Utility IndustryHub

Amit Gupta, GIS Lead, Energy & Utility IndustryHub

Aniket Mahato, GTM Lead, Energy & Utility IndustryHub