Alpiq EnerTrans Improves Inspection Efficiency by 50% for Swiss Network Grid Operators. With lines running along valleys and across Switzerland’s notoriously steep mountain ranges, Swissgrid, the owners of 6,700 km of transmission lines, and the local network operators have a difficult task to ensure the vast network remains operational all year-round – especially through harsh weather conditions.
As the requirement for inspections increases, grid operators have turned their eyes toward how they can improve efficiency and benefit from huge cost savings through implementing new technology into their daily operations.
Aerial Grid Inspection
Starting in 2014, Alpiq established a drone team which carried out aerial inspections to supplement their existing work with national and regional network owners.
They used to fly with other drones and were concerned about the battery time and stability. Now that they’ve switched to DJI Matrice 210 RTK, they are now more confident using drones for inspections. The flight stability provided by the use of multiple GPS units is better than using the compass as it can easily be affected by near strong power lines. The DJI Matrice 210 RTK stays very stable even when close to power lines where the magnetic interference is high.
Equipped with a Zenmuse XT thermal camera, Zenmuse X5S with a 45mm lens, and Zenmuse Z30 with 30x optical zoom, the DJI’s M210 RTK solution documents damages such as lighting strikes, broken insulators, crumbling concrete or rusting metal structure; and helps them to understand the thermal footprint of electrical components.
Damaged Power Lines
Thanks to the Matrice 210 RTK and an expert’s eye, it is now easy for AlpiqEnerTrans to determine and detect if power lines are damaged and need some repair.
Anton Zgraggen, Head of Network Construction at Altdorf Utility Company, and his team operate their local energy network and have seen the benefits of Alpiq’s drone team.
“Typically there is a limited time window for inspections of a defined section of the grid” explains Anton, “Alpiq EnerTrans was given 5 days to inspect 65 pylons and completed the work in 3 days. If we would have done the same 65 pylons in the conventional way with a line controller it would have taken 6-7 days, so it saved us 40-50% of time, let alone the increase in job safety.”
The repair process still requires a portion of the grid to be taken offline, but the drone data eliminates the majority of the downtime.
This case study demonstrates how the best drone technology from DJI can help to reduce the risks that some professionals are taking and to make processes more efficient.