Australian power grid operator TransGrid has turned to drones to install hardware onto powerlines, removing someone’s risk of falling from the top. The drones will also install wires in mountainous terrain throughout New South Whales (NSW) and the Australian Capital Territory (ACT).
The drones were recently used to install bird diverts to powerlines in the ACT, allowing birds to see the powerlines while flying. The hardware was also installed in less time as no one had to climb up the tower or fly above it in a helicopter and connect it.
To make sure the drones can actually install hardware, TransGrid has worked with Preformed Line Products (PLP) to develop a cradle that allows the bird diverts to be installed without any difficulty.
The drones were also modified by drone provider Infravision to disable to obstacle avoidance system, which would stop them from getting close to the powerlines and equipping them with propeller guards to get even closer.
In the year, TransGrid worked with Infravision to install powerlines along 922 transmission poles in Burrinjuck Gorge in the regional NSW. The task was completed by using heavy-lift drones and breaking the powerlines into two sections.
The first section was installed between two towers located in steep and rocky terrain not accessible from the ground. The second, a more challenging cable was run along an 800 meter stretch above the Burrinjuck gorge, with the cable terminating at the Burrinjuck substation.
Previously, this sort of work would have been completed by helicopters, which cost much more to fly and require people to watch closely from the air and the ground. The drones can complete the same job in less time at a much lower cost.
The drones are apart of TransGrid’s promise to explore alternative methods of using helicopters in its day-to-day operations. It looks like the drones are here to stay with the busy year that they’ve had.