Image: Fugro

TasNetworks plans to use a digital twin to improve the management and maintenance of its power distribution network.

TasNetworks, Tasmania’s state owned transmission and distribution business, has contracted a Netherlands-based geodata specialist, Furgo, to deliver a 3D virtual model of the power distribution network in the island state.

Fugro started the project to acquire data in December 2020 and delivered the first datasets to TasNetworks last month.

Fugro will create a ‘digital twin’ of the distribution network by capturing aerial lidar and imagery data and processing it using cutting-edge machine learning and cloud computing systems.

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TasNetworks representatives will then be able to analyse the data and execute detailed engineering and vegetation clearance analysis using Fugro’s cloud-based platform. With the potential fire risk of vegetation in contact with powerlines, the data is expected to be essential for managing and mitigating bush fire risk around the network.

As part of the project, Fugro will also perform an image-based condition assessment of the pole tops in selected high outage areas, such as those exposed to extreme winds and salt spray. High resolution imagery of the poles will be captured from helicopter-mounted cameras and combined with automated data analytics.

Images will be analysed to quickly identify damaged or corroded components, prompting immediate action and informing longer-term asset maintenance and replacement plans.

“Helicopter checks are crucial for spotting defects and keeping powerlines as secure as possible and Fugro’s virtual model of our network will generate actionable insights for us to take preventive measures,” says TasNetworks’ general manager of network, commercial and major customer services, Michael Ash.

“Keeping Tasmanians safe is our highest priority and we’re moving decisively to run the best possible inspection and maintenance programme to help save lives.”