Keltbray is using surveying drones to double its inspection efficiency of overhead power lines and pylons and cut carbon emissions by almost 50%.
The drones are conducting condition-based assessments, replacing the traditional time-consuming, labour-intensive and high-risk process with an “efficient, safe, and data-rich alternative”, according to Keltbray.
The company added that the use of drones removes the need to deploy costly all-terrain vehicles, saves staff having to work at height or negotiate difficult terrain, helps to identify rust or defects in greater detail, eliminates asset downtime and cuts inspection costs.
The drone camera also enables Keltbray to collect thermal imagery, enabling the team to spot defects or issues to help prevent fires that can occur as a result of failures in power lines.
Using this technology, Keltbray can now inspect six electricity towers a day – compared with three using traditional methods – and has cut carbon emissions by 45.5% per pylon.
Through a relatively small investment, drones reduce business risks and costs, enable us to access and develop new market places, and increase overall safety within high-risk environments which naturally drives efficiency during projects.– Gordon Cranston, Keltbray Energy
Keltbray has invested in the DJI M300 RTK platform and its cameras with input from drone supplier Heliguy.
The DJI M300 RTK has an IP45 rating, which means it can operate effectively in difficult weather conditions, while its RTK (real-time kinetic) system provides stability in areas of high electromagnetic interference.
Keltbray is also using drones for advanced mission planning, deploying photogrammetry cameras and LiDAR sensors, in conjunction with the drone mapping software package, to create highly-detailed, centimetre-accurate 3D models and point clouds.
This enables the team to extract crucial site information – such as details about terrain, slopes, gradients, routing issues and safety distances between powerlines and buildings – for vital pre-job insights, while the visual 3D site models streamline communication with clients and stakeholders.
Drones are also proving valuable for post-construction surveys. In one example, Keltbray’s drone captured data over a 1km stretch in under two minutes.
Gordon Cranston, project construction manager at Keltbray Energy, said: “Innovation is at the forefront of our business and drones are the future, bringing so many benefits to our operations.
“Through a relatively small investment, drones reduce business risks and costs, enable us to access and develop new market places, and increase overall safety within high-risk environments which naturally drives efficiency during projects.
“Drones provide an efficient and effective way of understanding the remaining lifespan of aging assets and determining investment programmes.”