Drones vs Industrial Hazards: How Clearsight Uses Drones to Increase Safety in the Power Industry

by: 5 min read

In this article: 

  • Learn how drones are used to mitigate or eliminate industrial safety hazards 
  • See how Constellation Clearsight has provided safer evolutions to all sectors in the power industry  

Introduction 

Across the country, businesses in the power industry are constantly looking for ways to improve their overall workplace safety. Many of those businesses have been discussing the risks and rewards of implementing new, innovative technology to increase safety. 

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the most important hazards associated with the electric power industry are electrocution, falls, confined spaces, fire and explosions, sprains and fractures, and environmental stress. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), adopting technology has proven to reduce these hazards and provide a safer working environment. 

In this article, we will break down how using innovative technologies, specifically drones, has helped us increase our clients’ workplace safety. 

Drones in Action

At Constellation Clearsight, our mission is to leverage innovative technologies to improve data collection and inspection services for critical infrastructure. Our cutting-edge technologies provide improved data collection through a much safer process. The following use cases are examples of how our drone inspection services have helped our clients from all segments in the power industry improve their workplace safety. 

Natural Gas 

Case Study: Natural Gas Station Boiler Inspection 

A natural gas generating station experienced issues within their boilers. Traditionally, the site would have been required to build a large scaffold and put multiple individuals in a situation where they would be working at extreme heights. 

While the site followed OSHA’s fall protection guidelines and standards, the leadership engaged Clearsight and our drone inspections, recognizing that our process improved safety by removing personnel from work-at-heights situations. They also appreciated that Clearsight located issues in a fraction of the time the traditional methods would have taken and at reduced costs. 

natural gas station boiler inspection with drones

We implemented two phases of drone inspections. The first phase was an all-encompassing boiler inspection and the second was a close inspection of the 80-foot water walls. This approach gave the plant the ability to prioritize immediate needs with applicable data, rather than a data dump of files to sort through. 

Distribution 

Case Study: Inaccessible Distribution Asset Inspection 

A large, Florida-based co-op experienced an annual average of 65 outages per member. The co-op had hundreds of miles of lines that needed to be inspected, with the outermost service territory having the most problematic circuits. Vegetation and harsh conditions encroached on this outer infrastructure, and it had been years since they were last inspected. 

power line inspection

A traditional walking crew would have to spend weeks to complete this inspection, but with bugs, swamps, deep sand, and humidity, this job would most likely last over a month. Utilizing state-of-the-art drones, our aerial inspection experts gathered data in less than one week and delivered a comprehensive report to the co-op much faster than they anticipated. Our drone-enhanced process was faster, more efficient and, with top-down visibility of the poles, it was more thorough. 

Transmission 

An electric co-op needed an upgrade to their ground-based troubleshooting method. The co-op quickly realized that the ground-based inspections they were using did not provide an adequate overview of their assets – the condition of the top of the asset was left completely unknown. 

electrical line inspection drone inspection

By utilizing a drone, we identified asset defects (including top of pole) at a fraction of the time, allowing the co-op to quickly correct them. Drone inspections also reduced the risk of personnel contact with energized assets. 

Nuclear 

Case Study: Industry Leading – Drone ASME Section XI Inspection 

A nuclear power station was looking to perform a drone-based inspection of their containment building per ASME Section XI IWL standard. This inspection traditionally requires large volumes of scaffold build, repetitive or hazardous climbing, large crane and personnel baskets, and individuals rappelling from structures. 

nuclear power station inspection with drones

By flying a drone, outfitted with a combination of cameras, we not only completed this inspection in accordance with code, but we also eliminated many of the industrial safety hazards present via traditional means. 

Coal 

Case Study: UAS Coal Station Inspection

A coal power station requested insights about their flue-gas desulfurization (FGD) component. The FGD utilizes a set of technologies to remove sulfur dioxide from the flue gas emissions. If the FGD is not in working order, trace amounts of sulfur dioxide can be emitted into the air. 

Traditional inspection methods included costly scaffold builds putting workers at risk in fall hazard situations or drop hazard situations. Constellation Clearsight selected a drone designed for indoor operations which gathered all the critical data to formulate a comprehensive report of the entire system allowing our client to ensure no sulfur dioxide was being emitted into the air causing environmental hazards or permit violations. 

Bottom Line 

Innovative technologies, specifically drones and robotics, have gained traction throughout all sectors of the power industry. Whether you are generating power or distributing it, drones are a safer solution to traditional methods. Are you ready to increase the safety and efficiency of your next inspection?  Learn more and reach out for a consultation to see what value Constellation Clearsight can add to protect your infrastructure. 

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  • Learn what it takes to implement a safe, efficient and sustainable robotic inspection program focused on delivering key insights for improving system-wide safety and reliability.

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