How to handle thousands of inspection images without leaving your office
Energinet.dk is a non-profit organization under the Danish Ministry of Energy, operating 6,800 kilometres of electricity supply grid in Denmark and ensuring that the electricity supply is kept operational both in the short term and in the long run. In recent years, Energinet.dk has come to rely increasingly on drone inspections for the maintenance of power lines, and the Scopito software platform has proven to be a valuable tool for this kind of work.
Mads Lykke Pedersen, who is in charge of inspecting all power lines in Jutland, explains: “Drone inspections are a clever, safe and cost-effective way of doing power line inspections, but they tend to generate vast numbers of images. In fact, once you’re done with an inspection run, you can have thousands of images on your drive. This is not very useful unless you can somehow tag and sort these images in a useful way. We use Scopito for this.”
In the case of the power lines crossing the Limfjord in Northern Jutland, the power of the Scopito platform became evident. Using drones, Energinet.dk managed to capture thousands of images of power lines crossing the water at a height of almost 100 meters without the need for cranes or for interruptions to the power supply.
“For instance, we found damage from lightning strikes that we could inspect at our leisure using the images captured by the drones,” says Mads Lykke Pedersen. “And because the images were GPS-tagged, we could pinpoint precisely where the problems were, which will make it much easier and more cost-effective to perform the necessary repairs when we have to.”
Let the experts stay in their office
Energinet.dk also found evidence of wear on the conductor wires of a kind that hadn’t been noticed before. “We found that the conductors had a surface that seemed almost to have been sand blasted,” says Mads Lykke Pedersen. “For that we needed outside experts to take a look at the damage – specifically, an expert placed in Canada. But where we would have had to fly him in back in the old days, now we could just email a web link to him and ask him to take a look at the images on his monitor in his own office. This saved a lot on travel and fees and cut down the time for the diagnosis quite significantly.”
Scopito as a tool for traditional inspection images
But the strengths of the platform are not confined to drone images, however. Energinet.dk often uses traditional helicopter inspections and ground-based photo shoots to document the condition of power lines, and Scopito is ideal for storing and sharing this type of inspection data.
“We perform more and more drone inspections, but we also still take images using helicopter runs and photography from the ground. After that it’s just a question of uploading the GPS-tagged images to the Scopito platform. That way we can keep full control of our inspection data and share them with colleagues and repair crews.”
Rooftop inspections and 3D landscape models based on precise image tagging
Danish Drone Network uses the Scopito software to create precise rooftop inspection data – and to build virtual buildings on undeveloped land
Dansk Drone Netværk (Danish Drone Network) is a networking company consisting of freelance drone operators performing all sorts of drone jobs such as TV and film, architectural footage, surveying and inspections.
As with most drone companies, Danish Drone Network is small, new and ambitious – and for inspection projects, the software of choice is Scopito.
“Scopito gives us a lot of advantages in inspection and repair jobs,” says Ulrik Max Nielsen, founder and CEO of Danish Drone Network.
”For us the main use of the software is for rooftop inspections. The brilliant thing here is that we can take thousands of tagged images of rooftops and have them all organized in one single cloud-based solution – and have Scopito analyse them. There’s an awful lot of money to be saved in the analysis work, because Scopito can make a shortlist of all the images that have been taken. Out of thousands of drone images, Scopito tags the ones where we can see anomalies that need further scrutiny. The end customer has access to all data, but in this way they get a quick overview of the actual state of the roof construction. Easy, and it saves a lot on expert hours.”
Ulrik Max Nielsen emphasizes two main functions of Scopito that make the software particularly useful: ”First, it’s easy to give others access to the system, so that we can share image data with external experts. Secondly, the images are geo-tagged with amazing precision.”
Danish Drone Network also creates visualizations of large projects for architects. “We can use our drones to take a series of images of a plot of land intended for development. Our animators can then use those same images to construct very precise virtual buildings, which the architects can then use in their tender materials. Scopito can use the GPS data to visualise the landscape, and it is very helpful for our designers to have access to precise data such as elevation, camera angles and GPS coordinates – that way, the visualisations become much more accurate and appealing.”
Scopito at the heart of a revolution in wind farm inspections
Inspections of wind turbine blades has been made easier, safer and much more cost-effective with the advent of drone technology. Now, with Scopito software as a main tool, Danish Drone Inspections is on the way to making blade inspections far more precise and much more useful.
Danish Drone Inspections is a small company specialized in the use of UAVs for inspection purposes. Among their most important customers are housing companies in need of annual inspections of roof surfaces and facades, and the Scopito software is one of the most important tools for this type of job: ”Mainly, the software makes it really easy for us to deliver data to our customers in an organized way. It’s just a matter of sending them a login invitation, and we can inform them which images show such things as roof tiles in need of replacement. It makes the whole replacement and inspection process much faster and much more precise,” says Danish Drone Inspections founder and CEO Lars Christensen.
But recently Danish Drone Inspections has begun to explore a new way of using drone inspections and the Scopito software: Wind turbine blade inspections.
“It’s early days yet,” says Lars Christensen, “and we’re still running experiments, but it’s really promising. We can perform blade inspections with a degree of precision we’ve never seen before by pairing our image data with the Scopito software.”
Normally, an inspection run of a wind turbine blade generates a string of photos that are delivered to the customer on a USB drive – a method which leaves the customer with the large task of sorting and grouping the images. As the turbine blade is photographed at close range and on all four sides (leading edge, trailing edge, front and back), precise location and grouping of images is vital to ensuring a quick and accurate analysis of the condition of the blade. Using Scopito, the GPS data can be visualised in a simple way.
”We can analyse the images really efficiently in this way,” says Lars Christensen. ”And once we’re done, we can just upload the images and invite the customer to take a look at the critical ones in the browser-based Scopito software. We can even write notes and attach them to each image, so it’s all very intuitive. This saves a lot of time for everyone involved.”
Lars Christensen stresses that this type of inspection is still in its infancy and that development work still needs to be done. But: ”Once we can get GPS-coordinates visualised on a 3D-model, we’re really going somewhere with this, and that is just around the corner,” he says. ”It’s a true revolution in wind farm maintenance, and Scopito is at the heart of it.”