Litgrid, Lithuania’s electricity transmission operator (TSO), has completed the monitoring of its entire overhead power lines from the air for the first time.
The use of helicopters equipped with advanced light detection and ranging laser scanning equipment (LiDAR) and cameras enabled Litgrid to complete the scan in a record time of less than a month.
The helicopter scanned the TSO’s 110KV overhead lines with a total length of 4,700km between July and August. Another 1,700 km of overhead lines (330 kV and 400 kV voltages) were smartly scanned last year, according to a statement.
Vidmantas Grušas, director of the transmission network department of Litgrid, said: “In order to streamline power grid maintenance and processes, we performed a smart scan of all high-voltage overhead lines for the first time. The obtained data will help our specialists to assess the condition of airlines and network equipment, safe distances from wires to the ground, vegetation, and other objects, as well as to identify dangerous trees. All this will allow for more efficient and convenient maintenance of airlines and will help ensure the reliability of the electricity transmission system.”
The TSO is working with Aerodiagnostika to transfer the data gathered from the scan into the TSO’s information systems for processing. The analysed data will be converted into specific system maintenance works by the end of November.
The data will enable Litgrid field workers to estimate safe line distances to land, roads, vegetation, and water bodies without them conducting the work manually. This would help them access data regarding the nature of the transmission lines in areas that are difficult to assess using the manual inspection process. In addition, Litgrid says the new process is cost-effective and improves the safety of its field workers.
The helicopter system also replaces sending unmanned aerial vehicles which Litgrid claims is difficult and time-consuming, prone to changing weather conditions, and costly since they require the installation of additional equipment.
Field workers will access the characteristics of the wires in the company’s asset management system where the data will be loaded once processing is done.
Grušas, adds: “With the development and ping of technology, artificial intelligence and machines will do more and more engineering work in the future. Using LiDAR and photo information, automated systems will identify airline defects and calculate workload. Historical data will allow for a deeper analysis and assessment of infrastructure wear, corrosion, other defects, accurate modelling of vegetation growth.”
Litgrid monitors its transmission line once every year.