HomeDigitalizationAutomationHow drones can make inspections smart and automated for utilities

How drones can make inspections smart and automated for utilities

The coronavirus pandemic has hit energy companies in several significant ways.

Chief among these is how utilities carry out field inspections of vital equipment during times of lockdown.

For many of these power firms, they have found the answer in drones. Unmanned aerial vehicles have long been deployed by some companies for inspections such as those of power lines, substations, solar farms and wind turbines.

However, many more have turned to drones during the Covid-19 outbreak. They have seen how they can be vital for keeping a business running in safe ways by enabling contactless and digital processes.

Utilities in the US have also found UAVs invaluable for inspections following ” and even during ” wildfires.

DJI’s new Matrice 300 RTK drone in action in the energy sector

Yet many energy sector businesses have yet to realise the benefit of drones ” and now the world’s biggest drone company, DJI, wants to help them unlock that potential.

DJI recently unveiled its most advanced commercial drone platform. The Matrice 300 RTK (M300 RTK) and the Zenmuse H20 series is a hybrid, multi-sensor camera which DJI says it has “engineered in an all-in-one, high-tech solution to expand possibilities and exploit areas of work never explored before for precise aerial inspections and data collection missions”.

Christina Zhang, DJI’s Senior Director of Corporate Strategy, said the solution “sets an entirely new standard for industrial UAV solutions” and highlighted the energy sector as a key area where she said it could “significantly enhance operations”.

The M300 RTK is the first DJI product that integrates modern aviation features, advanced AI capabilities, a six-directional sensing and positioning system plus a UAV health management system, with 55 minutes’ flight time.

The launch of the solution also comes as DJI has announced a partnership with Shell Oil Company to create, test and deploy its drone technology at Shell’s Deer Park Manufacturing Complex in Texas to improve efficiency and worker safety during industrial inspections and emergency incident response.

DJI has announced a partnership with Shell

“As one of the world’s largest energy companies, Shell has provided us with valuable insight into the unique challenges of conducting aerial inspections at one of its largest facilities where infrastructure exceeds the height of 250 feet off the ground,” said Cynthia Huang, Director of Business Development at DJI.

“Through our collaboration, DJI will receive valuable first-hand insight into the complexities of deploying drone technology at a world-class refinery, and co-develop new product features that will allow Shell and other energy companies to use drones to safely and easily conduct required inspections of critical infrastructure.”

Shell Deer Park’s chief drone pilot, John McClain, said that through the partnership, Shell Deer Park “will have access to some of the most advanced drone technology from DJI to help elevate workplace safety and improve efficiency across our operations in the world’s largest industry”.

To read more about the capabilities and advantages of DJI’s new launch, click here.

Kelvin Ross
Kelvin Ross is Editor-in-Chief of Enlit Europe and Power Engineering International. A journalist for more than 30 years, he has worked on regional, national and international newspapers, as well as trade magazines serving sectors including insurance, shipping, health and financial markets. He has covered the energy sector for more than 10 years. He helped establish Energy Live News in the UK before joining PEi and he has been ranked among the top 100 global influencers on Twitter for 'renewable energy' and 'smart grid' topics.