During the Winter of 2017, Atlantic Power contracted Aeriosense Technologies to perform a detailed condition assessment on the 4.5km 69kV transmission line connecting the Mamquam Run-of-River Hydroelectric Power Plant to the provincial electrical grid. The project was conducted using Aeriosense’s scripted flight-plan technology and reported in real-time by an on-site power line technician.

Atlantic Power Inspection 2018

The Aeriosense Automated Drone Inspection Solution VS Climbing & Foot Patrol

The Mamquam hydroelectric plant only has a single transmission line connecting it to the grid, thus increasing the importance of condition assessment, to prevent any outages and disruptions in power supply. Prior to using the automated drone inspection solution provided by Aeriosense, Atlantic Power previously relied on foot patrols and climbing inspection of select structures.

Conventional inspection challenges

Access restrictions required lineman to climb single pole structures to perform their assessments of the respective structures. Not all poles can be climbed, due to a substantial amount of time required and limited power outage time for the assessments to be completed. Thus making this method costly and time-consuming and in the end unfeasible solution for the complete assessment of all the structures.

Another option is to perform a foot patrol conducting a visual inspection from the ground. This method does not require an outage and is less costly compared to the climbing inspection. However, ground-based inspection has the potential to miss important defects and deterioration at the top of the structure. For instance, during previous inspection wood packer damage was noticed on some of the poles. Atlantic Power management was looking to get a better handle on the extent of the damage and if it was localized to an area or random.

Atlantic Power was considering ways to achieve a more economical inspection which covered the entire structure and could provide high-quality digital data that could be used to support their asset management decisions. Aeriosense was able to provide a solution that addressed those needs with the help of its scripted flight plan technology for automated drone inspection.

The Aeriosense Solution

In order to address the above challenges, Aeriosense worked with Atlantic Power to implement an automated unmanned aerial inspection for the 67 wood pole structures comprising the transmission line. The key success of this solution was getting detailed information on the condition of the top of the structure at approximately the same cost as a foot patrol. The automation software played a key role in reducing the cost.

The aerial inspection powered by Aeriosense automation was able to help accurately determine size and number of woodpecker holes in them and map out their locations so that the asset management team at Atlantic Power could come up with a comprehensive remediation plan to address this problem.

Solution highlights:

  • A single day to complete detailed condition assessment on 67 structures spanning 4.5 km over rugged terrain,
  • Condition assessment was done in real-time by an on-site power line technician, while the drone was in-the-air,
  • The inspection discovered critical defects that required immediate attention as well as issues to be monitored during future inspections.