2 April 2014
Savings on the Fly
Until a few years ago Ergon Energy relied on cars and four wheel drives to inspect their 150,000km powerline network which spread over 1.7 million square kilometres of often remote and rugged outback Queensland. Now due to an innovative Flight Assistance System (FAS) developed by the CRC for Spatial Information (CRCSI), the inspection can be done by manned and unmanned aircraft capturing precise data on the condition of the network.
Working with Ergon Energy and the Queensland University of Technology, the CRCSI developed system calculates optimum flight paths for LiDAR (laser based) scanners to detect powerlines and threats to powerlines such as overhanging trees. With the aid of FAS, what previously would have taken days to plan, weeks to fly and months to process can now be captured, processed and delivered within 24 hrs. Now fully operational the system saves Ergon $14m a year.
Recognising the potential applications across the energy sector and to other linear infrastructure networks, ROAMES Asset Services was established as a services unit within Ergon to commercialise the technology. ROAMES has now been acquired by Fugro Pty Ltd, an international engineering and surveying company active in offshore and onshore energy and infrastructure markets.
“Ergon, Fugro and QUT are all essential participants of the CRCSI and it is very pleasing to see the practical application of our research realising substantial savings, productivity gains and export potential for our partners” said Peter Woodgate, CEO, CRCSI.