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Honeywell’s unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV)-based inspection service has helped utility customer Ozarks Electric Cooperative inspect more than 100 miles of power lines and provide actionable data in only five days.
Inspecting the same distance takes approximately two weeks with up to 15 employees when performed on foot, and one day by helicopter, but with higher safety risk, cost and insufficient data quality.
“Ozarks Electric Cooperative is constantly trying to innovate and improve in areas like reliability, quality and sustainability,” said Mitchell Johnson, president and CEO, Ozarks Electric Cooperative. “Our collaboration with Honeywell helps us improve in these areas and connects us with the data analytics we need to work smarter, advance operations and add value to our members.”
The United States Department of Labor lists utility line work as one of the top 10 most dangerous jobs in the country. Transmission lines are often located in rugged or remote areas, making on-foot or helicopter inspections difficult, time-consuming and often dangerous.
Ozarks Electric Cooperative’s utility grid spans mountains, rivers and valleys in the Ozarks Mountains, which make it challenging to access transmission lines. With Honeywell’s UAV inspection service, customers save time and crews can work from a safer location to identify problematic areas along power lines such as cracks, vegetation encroachment or frayed electrical wires.
Honeywell’s UAV service utilizes a three-step process to conduct inspections and deliver data analytics for customers like Ozarks Electric Cooperative. During the first phase, Honeywell works with the customer to plan the inspection and finalize the UAV’s flight plan, ensuring it complies with Federal Aviation Administration regulations.
Next, Honeywell’s UAV pilots perform the inspection using autonomous flight management software, capturing thousands of images and raw data along the way.
Finally, the imagery is run through Honeywell’s proprietary data analytics software, which is specially designed to sort, organize and tag the inspection data. This software then uses machine learning algorithms to identify potential hazards such as vegetation encroachment or hardware defects, and prioritizes them based on how urgently they need attention.
Once this process is complete, all of the imagery and findings are delivered to the customer via a web portal that they can access in the field or back in the office.
“With decades of experience in developing world-class avionics systems and software, Honeywell is well positioned to bring scalable UAV solutions to our customers,” said Brad Westphal, Honeywell’s UAV business leader. “We understand the real-world complexities of the end-to-end environment and are advancing UAV systems and software at a higher rate than our competitors to help digitize and connect a variety of businesses, including utilities, renewables and oil-and-gas.”