Stoen Operator scans power lines from the air

Stoen Operator is implementing an innovative project to create a 3D model of high voltage overhead lines. In cooperation with Vimap, it scans the network from a helicopter. The data provided will be used to monitor hard-to-reach places and increase the stability of the power supply.

The first stage of the survey of high-voltage overhead lines was carried out on October 1, 2021. The helicopter, equipped with a specialized network device diagnostic system, identified 90 km of the network located mainly in the eastern part of Warsaw within one working day. The next flight is scheduled for the second half of 2022.

– Currently, as part of the project, we have surveyed a quarter of the high voltage lines simultaneously. Due to the characteristics of the Warsaw network, that is, a relatively small network concentrated around the city, flights are easier. The only restrictions may arise from areas such as airports or military areas that require special permits. For example, part of the Stoen operator’s high voltage lines are located near Warsaw Okęcie Airport so that the flight over this area must be carried out in close contact with the air traffic controller. – said Szymon Pomykała, Network Standards Specialist at Stoen Operator.

Vimap specializes in mapping power networks. Thanks to the reports from this company, the distribution network operator in Warsaw will shorten the time to update the inventory. It will also expand the possibilities of evaluating the technical condition of items that cannot be seen by the field worker, performing network analyzes for changing conditions (eg cable temperature), and even creating simulations of falling trees.

– In order to obtain information about the infrastructure, we use different types of helicopters that are equipped with specialized measuring instruments. The configuration of the system installed on the helicopter is always matched and adapted to the objectives of the project and the type of infrastructure tested. In addition to the advanced equipment, the project includes our vMatic software dedicated to managing the data provided. Ensures visualization and integration of the obtained data. In addition, this solution automatically detects close-up shots and very small distances using the specified parameters – Krzysztof Tkocz from Vimap.

Innovative network diagnostic system

A technologically advanced system consisting of several gauges is used to check the network configuration and the devices built into it. High-resolution cameras record individual elements of the infrastructure and capture highly detailed, high-quality images, which are then processed by dedicated software. In this way it is possible, inter alia, to quickly detect faults and irregularities that may lead to breakdowns and interruptions in the supply of electricity to our customers.

Thanks to the use of laser scanning technology (lidar), a 3D model of the line and its contour was made. Using a three-dimensional image of the terrain, images and analysis tools, it is possible to precisely identify places where standard distance requirements are not met, for example for trees or buildings. This information allows you to take appropriate maintenance actions to reduce network security risks.

Working with Vimap does not mean stopping the “classic” visual inspections of employees. As representatives of the Stoen Operator assure, it is better to conduct a thorough assessment of the foundations and lower parts of the shaft during pedestrian inspections, which are carried out on these devices once a year. On the other hand, line scanning with a helicopter allows you to more accurately assess the condition of the infrastructure elements that are out of the field worker’s sight. Hence, the best solution is to assess the technical condition of the network devices in the hybrid model.

Infrastructure monitoring using digital tools

The high-voltage overhead line survey project is not the first of its kind. Stoen Operator has already mapped medium and low voltage overhead lines using a fleet of drones. They have also found application in Energy Emergency Service activities as a tool that supports field workers to assess emergency and planned events in hard-to-reach areas. It is worth noting that all these activities are also part of the broader strategy of the E.ON Group, one of the three pillars of which is digitization based on the increasing use of digital solutions for infrastructure monitoring.

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