Excel and partners leverage AI to transform grid asset management


US utility Excel Energy has partnered with analytics firm eSmart Systems and EDM International, an alliance of engineers, scientists, and technologists, to leverage artificial intelligence to optimise management of energy transmission network.

The first phase of the collaboration includes the use of AI to monitor 3,300 miles of energy transmission lines with the goals of improving asset information, reducing operational costs, decreasing failure rates and extending asset life.

eSmart is providing its AI-based analytics to enable Excel Energy to analyse imagery data of transmission assets collected by Xcel’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems and manned helicopters and validated by EDM’s subject matter experts, to prioritise transmission line operations, identify defects, and update asset information in Xcel’s asset management systems.

“We see this project as helping utilities to practically bridge the gap in the transition from today’s largely manual processes to the world that leverages digital technology such as AI and UAS images for grid inspection and asset management,” says Knut H. H. Johansen, the CEO of eSmart Systems.

“Through this partnership, we will significantly improve the speed, safety, accuracy and cost of power grid inspections and deliver value by updating information on critical infrastructure assets. The utilisation of our Collaborative AI enables us to transform today’s inspection practices by delivering enhanced mission-critical information with reduced risk,” adds Steve Hambric, President of North America Operations at eSmart Systems.

“Xcel Energy’s work on unmanned aircraft systems with our numerous partners demonstrates that collaboration benefits customers, the economy and the environment,” said Kent Larson, Executive Vice President and Group President of Operations for Xcel Energy. “Our company is an industry leader in using UAS technologies for transmission and distribution line inspections. We look forward to working with eSmart Systems and EDM to improve the safety and reliability of the energy grid.”