Drones and UAVs in the Power and Utility Sector
Not surprisingly, drones are beginning to enter the power and utility industry. UAV and drone use in this sector is a critical and advantageous step for these companies, as successful adoption could lead to multiple advantageous outcomes such as increased efficiencies, lowered costs, and increased safety.
The traditional means of completing an inspection in these industries was through airplanes, helicopters, or having humans physically climb up scaffolding to manually inspect. As you can imagine, each of these means carries inherent risks, as well as logistical problems, which these companies are continuously trying to overcome. As they adopt drones however, as a more innovative way to capture the information they need, they are able to mitigate most of the risk while also saving time and money. For example, looking at flare stacks, where traditional means often meant shutting down a stack while someone had to climb and manually inspect, with the use of drones the stacks can remain active while a drone does a complete fly around in about 15 minutes.
According to an article in Business Reuters, from October 2016, “Energy companies already use surveillance cameras, helicopters, and remote sensors as well as drones to monitor some 119,000 km (74,000 miles) of pipelines across Canada, and have an agreement to collaborate during an emergency. The pipelines, most of which are underground, carry 3.4 million barrels of crude oil a day.” Pipeline monitoring is just one area which could benefit enormously from the use of drones once the right products hit the market. While changing current processes is a massive undertaking, many power and utility companies are seeing the positive impact it will have on their overall efficiency and bottom lines, and are beginning to look into implementing them as a whole or primary tool.
As one of the focus industries at this year’s Big Drone Show, solutions for this particular industry are sure to be explored. Companies such as Defiant Labs will be showcasing their proprietary tech. geared specifically towards these types of applications, and we can’t wait to see what else will be offered.