Small Utility Transformer

Constellation Clearsight used drone technology to survey a distribution system for outage causes.

One of our clients is a small investor-owned utility in North-Central Pennsylvania. For some time, their customers were experiencing reliability issues due to inaccurate information in their database on transformers throughout their distribution system. Missing the serial numbers on transformers resulted in extraneous outage times for customers while the line crews fought to diagnose issues and restore power. Initial attempts to reconcile their database involved using bucket trucks in areas of dense vegetation and mountainous terrain. This proved nearly impossible and grossly expensive, at best.

Constellation Clearsight had recently completed a project piloting its capabilities for this client’s cycle-based maintenance inspections. Using Constellation Clearsight’s drones to obtain the serial numbers immediately stood out as a viable alternative. Constellation Clearsight mapped out all of the transformers utilizing ArcGIS software and optimized flight plans based on the difficulty for maximum efficiency. With the flight plans finalized, Constellation Clearsight went to work.

The mission wasn’t straightforward. Constellation Clearsight’s inspection crews battled the frigid northeast cold, pushing drones to their operational limits. Many assets were surrounded by woods with limited road access. Some were on private property. They took advantage of the high-resolution cameras and zoom features to capture the critical data for each energized asset without disturbing the customers and local farm animals.

All the transformers were accounted for with a small percentage that were deemed illegible. Our client is now equipped with work orders for the necessary repairs that will ensure reliable electric service for its customers and safer work conditions for its crews.

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