The iHawk drone developed by Cyberhawk in Denver, Colorado, has been used in a study to remotely monitor and survey more than 11,500 high-voltage transmission towers and nearly 150 substations.
The inspections generate terabytes of multi-level data through its enterprise-grade iHawk software across transmission lines, substations and switching substations. The visual and thermal analyses expose integrity risks and reveal potential opportunities for improvement. This significantly reduces safety risk, downtime, environmental impact and costs due to the inspection speed and by removing the need for linemen to work at height, near live lines or in generally hazardous areas.
"iHawk's innovative approach to data management is key to managing our network assets, central to how our operations team manage inspections, maintenance, safety, and compliance," said Stuart Knight, Head of Operations and Maintenance at SSEN Transmission.
Earlier this year, through Cyberhawk's visual inspection data, SSEN Transmission identified a missing split pin on a tower insulator fitting. A planned outage was scheduled, and repair was carried out the following weekend. If it weren't for the drone data being available on iHawk, it could have failed causing a network fault on a key transmission circuit.
"When I was first introduced to our data held on iHawk, I could not believe the quality of data we were able to obtain at the touch of a button, from any location. It is unrivaled compared to other data management tools I have seen being used in the energy sector," said Knight.
Sulphur hexafluoride (SF6) has been used extensively as an insulation medium in high voltage equipment for over 60 years but in 2005, the Kyoto protocol identified the gas mixture as a greenhouse gas. Operators such as SSEN Transmission have to improve leakage performance of its SF6 assets. Using Cyberhawk's integrated IoT sensors, any leaks of the colourless, odourless, synthetic gas are quickly identified, limiting the effect on the environment.
"By conducting drone inspections on a regular basis, and ensuring the data is efficiently processed and accessed on iHawk, the SSEN Transmission's operational teams can identify issues early, focusing interventions on the highest priority items, before they are allowed to fail," said Chris Fleming, CEO of Cyberhawk.
"Using our map-driven interface and traffic light color-coded reporting dashboard, iHawk allows easy access to critical information and trends, with ultra-high-resolution inspection images and engineering commentary available. iHawk provides 'one source of truth,' and the evidence required to make informed decisions." Cyberhawk has supported a major US utility with inspections of over 50,000 transmission structures in California as part of its critical wildfire prevention and reliability campaign.
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