Fly: Electrical Contractors & Drones


Voltimum considers the benefits that drone (or drone) technology could bring to electrical subcontracting companies.

The increased use of drones in recent years has been greeted with cynicism by some and awe by others. Like many technologies, its merit is determined by those who use it.

In the wrong hands, the presence of remote-controlled flying cameras is intrusive and the ability to carry payloads over walls and fences a potential security risk; especially near prisons, airports and government buildings.

However, in the right hands there are obvious advantages too. Emergency services can use drones to track down criminals or send defibrillators to patients. Entertainment industries use drones to collect exciting and dynamic footage. Soon there will even be entire fleets of drones delivering your purchases online. E-commerce giant Amazon is currently developing its Prime Air service. Once launched, Amazon will be able to deliver packages up to five pounds in 30 minutes or less using small drones.

Even restaurants are experimenting with the technology, as seen in the video below with Guzman y Gomez Burritos in Australia.

To learn more about the potential of drone technology in electricity, we decided to take a look at companies that are already innovating in the engineering and infrastructure sectors.

Drones in industry and construction

Formed in 2008, CyberHawk is one of the world’s leading engineering companies using drones for aerial survey and surveying. Focused on industrial applications such as on and offshore oil and gas installations, wind farms and infrastructure, the Livingstone-based company uses drones and specialized software to collect data and present the results to their customers so that they can they can analyze and justify their decisions.

Voltimum spoke with Philip Buchan, Commercial Director at CyberHawk. We asked Philip to summarize the benefits of using drones to inspect assets and collect data:

“We see many benefits in using drones for data collection. First, it’s safer. There is less work at height. elevated mobile access and work platforms. Now people can stay safe on the ground and the drone can collect the vast majority of data instead.

“Of course, drones can’t fix and fix things, but at least when people have to find themselves in potentially dangerous situations, they do it with a purpose. They already know what the problem is, they’ve seen the footage. , they brought the correct spare part, so rather than having to set up scaffolding over a large area, you can focus the activity on the area where the drone indicated there was a problem.

“It’s also very efficient. A drone can collect data very quickly. It doesn’t take hours or days to set up. It only takes a few seconds for a drone to reach the problem area of ​​a high structure. and you can immediately start collecting data. The time saved obviously translates into cost savings. “

Efficiency and cost reduction are evident in large industrial environments. But what about small construction sites and internal applications. Inspection and maintenance is part of the job of an electrical contractor, but the facilities in question are often found in confined and hard-to-reach areas, and faults cannot necessarily be identified via stills and images. standard videos that the drone collects.

“Our typical payloads are cameras or thermal images,” says Phil. “Thermal imaging can reveal many problems that normal images cannot identify,” he added.

“Drone technology is constantly evolving. We now use drones in internal and confined spaces. The drone is housed in a circular cage so that it can bounce off surfaces and roll along walls without being damaged. This opened up the possibility of using this equipment inside tanks, ducts and hard-to-reach areas.

As Philippe says, Cyber ​​falcon is not a maintenance operation. It quickly and efficiently provides users with the data needed to diagnose a problem so that the problem can be fixed as soon as possible. While electrical contractors will not inspect overhead power lines or industrial chimneys, they will check outdoor and warehouse lighting installations, for example. By using drones to collect data in advance, entrepreneurs can make informed and profitable decisions about accessing equipment, tools and labor so they can work smarter and safer.

HOW TO BECOME A DRONE PILOT?

To fly a drone for commercial purposes, you will first need permission from the Civil Aviation Authority. This can be achieved by completing a competency assessment of an approved National Qualified Entity (ENQ).

Some EQS offer full courses for those with no previous aviation training or qualification. A typical course will consist of an online study as well as several days of classroom instruction, a theory test and a flight assessment.

Although these courses are not officially approved by the CAA, they can equip you with the skills necessary to complete the competency assessment.

There are several safety rules relating to the safe commercial operation of drones which are supported by UK law. These rules are set out in the Air Navigation Ordinance 2016 (ANO 2016).


Patricia D. Rutt