Why Drone-Enhanced Solutions are Potential Game Changers for Energy Co-Ops

by: 4 min read

In this article: 

  • The potential impact of drones & drone-backed inspection services 
  • How our end-to-end drone & software solutions make inspections safer and easier 
  • The evolution of drone technology & how co-ops are using drones today 

Introduction 

Electric cooperatives play a crucial role in the energy industry and in the transformation of communities throughout our nation. According to the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA), electric co-ops provide electricity to one in eight Americans living in rural farming communities as well as suburbs and even small cities throughout the United States, roughly 42 million people. 

Delivering power to members is no small job. Introducing new technology to an energy co-op is about making processes easier, extending the life of the power infrastructure, and improving member service. Drones can help do just that. 

wood pole inspection using drones
Constellation Clearsight uses drone technology to improve safety, efficiency, and data management in aerial utility pole inspections.

Drones Empower Co-ops and Their People 

Traditional inspection processes, like line crews and bucket trucks, are standard across the electric industry, and continue to be the foundation of grid reliability support. Drone-based solutions build on those processes, adding layers of safety and efficiency. 

Improvements to Safety 

  • Drones are safer and can be a more cost-effective alternative than flying helicopters and planes around energized assets.  
  • Drones enable field workers to observe hazardous areas from a remote location, reducing their overall hazardous resource hours. 
  • Drones comply with regulatory safety standards. 

Service Efficiency 

  • Drones accelerate service cycles and can quickly identify preventative maintenance opportunities, helping to extend the life of the asset. 
  • Drone technology improves the speed of data collection. Inspection teams capture thousands of images to clearly illustrate the layout of the infrastructure and highlight the problems. Once collected the data is prioritized by inspection experts before seamlessly and securely delivering the full inspection report. 
  • Drone inspection processes achieve better, more accurate results by identifying more defects than traditional, ground-based inspections, reducing the need for additional bucket trucks and truck rolls. 

Improved Security & Governance 

  • Drone technology increases situational awareness, meaning the drone pilot is aware of what is happening around their unmanned aircraft system (UAS) in terms of its position, where it is supposed to be, and whether anyone or anything around it is a threat to another’s health and safety. 
  • The Clearsight team stays up to date with all applicable federal regulations, including the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) policies and their specific applications to aerial inspections. 
  • Drones offer greater control and risk planning mitigation and solutions. 

Data Management & IT Advancements 

  • Drone technology and robotics software has improved data security, reducing the risk of a data breach. 
  • Drone and robotic software improve data precision and fidelity. 
  • Drones collect inspection data and process the data in minutes, allowing co-ops to prioritize remediation efforts and act on repairs faster. 

Technology is meant to empower people to do their jobs easier and more efficiently, directly benefiting the teams that are already established and in place.  

This is why Clearsight is dedicated to supporting co-ops in their mission to deliver power and invest in the future of their communities.  

electrical line inspection using drones
Inspection solutions that provide end-to-end service with drone-enhanced technology like Clearsight can be incredibly useful to maintaining the American energy grid.

The Bottom Line – Delivering Safer, Affordable & More Reliable Service to Co-op Members 

Whether outsourcing a partial inspection program or looking to implement an end-to-end solution, Clearsight fits seamlessly into an established inspection program. 

Case Study: Inaccessible Distribution Asset Inspection

Clearsight is proving its inspections are 5 times more efficient at collecting data and far more effective at achieving key insights about reliability issues – all at an affordable price for co-ops.

In addition to drone technology and software, Clearsight and its team of robotics and regulatory compliance experts ensure a successful and painless program deployment. Learn how Clearsight partners with co-ops to better serve their communities with the power of technology.

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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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