Honeywell's UAS service helps utility customer inspect more than 100 miles of power lines

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Honeywell has announced that its UAS-based inspection service helped utility customer Ozarks Electric Cooperative inspect more than 100 miles of power lines and provide actionable data in just five days.

​When performed on foot, it takes approximately two weeks with up to 15 employees to inspect the same distance. It only takes one day by helicopter, but this method of performing inspections comes with a higher safety risk and cost, as well as insufficient data quality.

“Ozarks Electric Cooperative is constantly trying to innovate and improve in areas like reliability, quality and sustainability,” says 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.”

According to the United States Department of Labor, utility line work is one of the top 10 most dangerous jobs in the country, being that transmission lines are often located in rugged or remote areas, which makes on-foot or helicopter inspections difficult, time-consuming and often dangerous.

It is difficult to access Ozarks Electric Cooperative's transmission lines, being that its utility grid spans mountains, rivers and valleys in the Ozarks Mountains. Using Honeywell's UAS inspection service, though, customers not only save time, but 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 UAS service uses a three-step process to conduct inspections and deliver data analytics for its customers. The first phase involves Honeywell working with the customer to plan the inspection and finalize the drone’s flight plan to make sure that it is compliant with FAA regulations.

After that, Honeywell’s UAS pilots perform the inspection using autonomous flight management software, and capture 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. The software then uses machine learning algorithms to identify potential hazards, 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 through 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,” says 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.”

Below: Honeywell has announced that its UAS-based inspection service helped utility customer Ozarks Electric Cooperative inspect more than 100 miles of power lines and provide actionable data in just five days. Photo: Honeywell