Swissgrid, the national transmission grid operator, has picked up the pace of its inspections by integrating drone technology into its arsenal.
The organisation, which is tasked with not only keeping the lines online but also tying the Swiss energy grid into the larger European grid network, owns 6,700 km of transmission lines.
Due to the networks’ aging nature, grid owners are increasingly looking to raise the frequency they inspect each individual line, surpassing legal minimum frequencies of two to five years.
In order to successfully monitor its complex network of transmission lines, Swissgrid has teamed up with Alpiq EnerTrans, a power lines and switchgear systems manufacturer and operator.
The conventional method for inspecting power pylons begins with an inspector using binoculars to gain a first assessment of the tower, which has now been replaced with drone technology.
Anton Zgraggen, head of network construction at Altdorf Utility Company, said: “Typically there is a limited time window for inspections of a defined section of the grid.
“Alpiq EnerTrans was given five days to inspect 65 pylons and completed the work in 3 days. If we would have done the same 65 pylons in the conventional way with a line controller it would have taken 6-7 days, so it saved us 40-50% of time, let alone the increase in job safety.”