By utilizing the latest in iOS technology available to electric utilities, Owen Electric is able to inspect assets from a helicopter and send that information from the air to the office. Brandon Fyffe discusses how GISbiz developed a field inspection tool using by an electrical utility to inspect their assets from a helicopter. The tool was built using Esri’s iOS SDK and it allows field inspectors the ability to pull up maps on iPads/iPhones, sync inspection and service order reports for specific assets back to the server, take photos, and a lot more.
Every year, Owen Electric Cooperative takes a helicopter to fly over the portion of their electric distribution network that serves the Kentucky Speedway. Owen does this in preparation for the NASCAR events that draw tens/hundreds of thousands of people to the area. In the past, this has been the beginning of a process involving clerks, hand delivered papers, and at least a weeks worth of man hours. Now, after implementing the geoOrganizer suite of products, Owen Electric took the suite’s field inspection tool (geoFIT) up in the helicopter to perform inspections of their power lines and other assets that are associated with those circuits. The goal was to complete inspections of multiple feeders within the same day, accurately identify those assets that need repair(locating the areas where vegetation management is needed), and document the identified issues on a GIS map in real time so that maintenace crews can be dispatched to the right locations.
Owen Electric was able to successfully view their asset data on the iPad from the helicopter. The application also allows them to inspect their assets and provide headquarters with instant updates by sending inspection and service order reports from the air. This was accomplished all while maintaining speeds of 40mph and altitudes of 200ft. Rusty Williams, Senior VP of Operations and Technology said, “We’ve tried this before with other tools and it wasn’t as efficient or accurate. Finally we have a tool that incorporates GPS tracking, our own system maps and the inspection software my people need to get the job done. The GPS tracking also allows us to send any of our field personnel to inspect rather than just those that know the service territory the best. This was the winning combination we were looking for.”
By getting a bird’s eye view, Owen Electric found that they were able to quickly identify areas where vegetation management crews needed to cut trees and vines back from power lines and poles as well as cracked cutouts. They could also see the tops of pole mounted transformers and other elevated assets that aren’t visible from the road without involving crews and shutting down lines. The result was that after three hours, Owen Electric had successfully inspected three circuits. The success from this “test flight” has Owen Electric excited about the idea of using this method for other workflows such as storm damage assessments.
Rusty Williams went on to say, “This was basically a test run in preparation for future storm damage assessments. After seeing how well this went, I can see this saving us hundreds of man hours. Basically, we’re going to be able to get the lights back on faster by employing four men rather than 30 or more.” Finding an application that was easy to use and wouldn’t require a lot of training for the field personnel was also a requirement for Owen Electric. Kenny Widener, Service Tech for Owen Electric commented, “Inspecting our feeders using geoFIT was easy. I was able to get trained up on it in a matter of minutes and start using with no problems.”
GISbiz is a software solutions company specializing in Geospatial applications for over a decade. GISbiz offers Mobile, Web and Desktop software solutions to Utilities, Government agencies and commercial organizations by utilizing the latest technologies from Apple, Microsoft, Google, Oracle and ESRI. For more information about geoOrganizer or any of GISbiz’ other exciting products and services, please contact Brandon Fyffe at 615.600.4166 or via email at email@example.com.