Sky-Futures has recently worked with Elia, a major European Transmission System Operator (TSO) in an innovation project combining drone inspections and data analytics software to automate the inspection process.

Customer Needs

The inspections of Elia’s infrastructure including towers and overhead lines generate a large volume of data. Elia has recognised the need for a data management and reporting system to facilitate all the captured data, as well as optimising its potential use.

The Proof of Concept

The data is being hosted in Expanse, Sky-Futures’ cloud-based asset management, data analytics and reporting software. Powered by Computer Vision and Artificial Intelligence, Expanse provided Elia several benefits in terms of how asset inspection data is stored, analysed, reported and shared.

The collected data was labelled and processed in Expanse. Present defects or anomalies were highlighted and put into a category e.g. corrosion. This allows Sky-Futures to tune the Artificial Intelligence algorithm to perform the automatic identification of anomalies. This means that on the next flight, the pilot could upload the collected images into Expanse, and these anomalies will be automatically identified and associated with the corresponding asset. With the automation of certain tasks, like object identification, inspections and maintenance can be done faster and more efficiently.

We are pleased to work with Elia to introduce a higher quality and more efficient inspection regime using Sky-Futures’ Expanse software platform. The project will help Elia capitalise on the efficiencies provided by drone-based inspections by automating the inspection process, so the Engineering teams can use the data at scale.

Chris Blackford

COO, Sky-Futures

Expanse allows Elia to achieve OPEX savings and enables them to prioritise maintenance work, informed by a deep understanding of asset condition.

About Elia

Elia is Belgium’s high-voltage transmission system operator (30 kV to 380 kV), operating over 8,600 km of lines and underground cables throughout Belgium and Germany. The company transmits electricity from generators to distribution system operators, which then supply SMEs and homes. Elia also has contracts with major industrial users that directly connect to its high-voltage grid.

Read more about the project here

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