Drones are helping Keltbray cut carbon emissions by 45%
Keltbray, a specialist engineering business and provider of overhead line and substation services, uses drones to double inspection efficiency and cut carbon emissions by almost 50%. Keltbray has invested in the DJI M300 RTK platform and its ecosystem of powerful cameras to collect better quality data quicker and safer than before.
The team benefits from zoom and thermal imagery during condition-based inspections, while photogrammetry and LiDAR provide enhanced mission planning and tackle challenges associated with traditional methods of powerline construction. Keltbray turned to the UK’s leading drone supplier, heliguy, to adopt the technology, proving an effective tool.
Gordon Cranston, Project Construction Manager at Keltbray Energy, said: “Innovation is at the forefront of our business and drones are the future, bringing so many benefits to our operations. Through a relatively small investment, drones reduce business risks and costs, enable us to access and develop new market places, and increase overall safety within high-risk environments, which naturally drives efficiency during projects.”
Drones for condition-based assessments
Drones have revolutionised how Keltbray conducts condition-based assessments, replacing a once time-consuming, labour-intensive and high-risk process with a highly efficient, safe, and data-rich alternative. These two images demonstrate how the powerful zoom on the H20T camera helps Keltbray capture detailed imagery of critical infrastructure from afar.
The first picture shows an up-close view of a detuning spacer captured by the drone 260 metres away. The detuning spacer is identified in this picture by the orange circle! This removes the need to deploy costly all-terrain vehicles, stops staff from having to work at height or clamber over rugged terrain, helps to identify rust or defects in great detail, eliminates asset downtime, and cuts inspection costs. The H20T camera can also be used to take a composite photograph.
In this example, the drone enabled Keltbray to capture 35 separate images of this pylon in just 60 seconds, which helped the company spot this damaged earth braid. The camera also allows Keltbray to collect thermal imagery, enabling the team to spot defects or issues to help prevent fires that can occur due to failures in power lines. In the example below, the thermal camera allowed Keltbray to spot an overheating cable joint. Using this technology, Keltbray can now inspect six electricity towers per day – up from three with traditional methods – and has cut carbon emissions by 45.46% per pylon.
The DJI M300 RTK has an IP45 rating, meaning it can operate effectively in difficult weather conditions, while its RTK system provides excellent stability in areas of high electromagnetic interference.
Cranston said: “Drones provide an efficient and effective way of understanding the remaining lifespan of ageing assets and determining investment programmes.”
Drone Surveying For Advanced Mission Planning Keltbray uses drone surveying techniques for advanced mission planning: Deploying the 45MP P1 photogrammetry camera and L1 LiDAR sensor, in conjunction with the DJI Terra drone mapping software packaging create highly-detailed, centimetre-accurate 3D models and point clouds.
This enables the team to extract crucial site information – such as details about terrain, slopes, gradients, routing issues and safety distances between powerlines and buildings – for vital pre-job insights, while the visual 3D site models streamline communication with clients and stakeholders. Drones are also proving valuable for post-construction surveys. In one example, Keltbray’s drone-captured data over a 1km stretch in under two minutes.