Nov 2015
Electricity Distribution
Airborne Inspection Phase 1
Nov 2015
Nov 2017
Western Power Distribution, Western Power Distribution South West, Western Power Distribution South Wales, Western Power Distribution East Midlands and Western Power Distribution West Midlands
James Bennett – WPD Innovation & Low Carbon Engineer
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Network Innovation Allowance
LV & 11kV Networks, Network Monitoring, Overhead Lines, Asset Management, Conductors, Maintenance & Inspection, Fault Management and Condition Monitoring
Distribution Network Operators have statutory duties under the Electricity Safety Quality and Continuity Regulations 2002 to maintain its system in a safe condition and to undertake an assessment of the risk of unauthorised access, interference or vandalism. Regular inspection and subsequent condition based maintenance also reduces customer interruptions. By improving the existing helicopter based inspection regime cost savings in a number of areas can be achieved together with an improvement in network performance.

The overarching aim of the project is to produce a helicopter based system which can automatically assess line condition and produce reports on any issues for the end user in an appropriate form. In order to achieve this, the existing sensing capabilities need to be assessed and recommendations for improvements made, the new sensing system shall be integrated with existing asset databases and a condition monitoring system developed.

It is anticipated that the sensing capabilities shall be limited to commercially available cameras but the subsequent developed system shall be scalable to include future hardware such as LIDAR and RF PD

It is not anticipated that the system shall replace the observers’ role within the inspection regime but rather will become the observers’ tool for inspecting.

1) Identify the optimum helicopter mounted sensing system which will enable long range data acquisition in the most operator friendly manner. The system should be able to present data in a format which can be integrated with other technologies and also used within analysis software
2) Produce a data analysis package capable of autonomously gathering data in order to identify faults and deterioration. The package should integrate with existing asset records and GIS data to produce reports and record inspection against existing records.
3) Produce a system capable of the real-time reporting of condition back to interested parties on the ground

  1. Production of a firm recommendation for the helicopter mounted sensor setup
  2. Successful integration of existing asset information with camera data
  3. Development of ‘in air’ data transfer
  4. The accurate identification of a number of asset conditions using data analysis software