How Citipower & Powercor improved their power pole inspection rate with Birdi

Written by
Simon Aldridge
October 10, 2022

Challenge:

Citipower & Powercor are a Melbourne-based power and utility company. They manage their network of poles, wires and infrastructure that distributes power to electricity meters, and supply energy to 1.2 million Victorian homes and businesses.

They require oversight over their asset network to ensure any defects to power poles are identified and resolved as quickly as possible.

Citipower & Powercor had been completing their asset inspections on foot, with inspectors manually visiting every power pole and, when possible, taking photographs from the ground using DSLR cameras and/or smart phones and tablets. However, this approach provided limited data for identifying defects and lacked top-down visibility of the power poles.

Citipower & Powercor approached Birdi to utilise drone capture and our aerial intelligence platform for improved asset inspection and maintenance of a subset of their power pole asset network.

"Birdi has been great for us. Their drone pilot network captured over 11,000 power poles, which we then reviewed in the Birdi platform. We increased our asset inspection rate and improved our defect identification per asset."

Luke Skinner, Head of Digital – Network | Strategy and Customer Group

CitiPower, Powercor & United Energy

Solution

Birdi’s solution helped Citipower & Powercor in the following ways:

  • Drone data capture of over 11,000 power poles in their asset network
  • Aerial imagery uploaded and visualised in the Birdi platform
  • Asset defects were identified, recorded and reported on.

Asset capture with drones

Birdi matched drone pilots for each mission based on their experience and their locality to each capture region. Birdi’s drone pilot network completed approx 2,000 drone flight missions to capture aerial imagery of over 11,000 power poles. 

Drone pilots captured approximately 80 poles per day across metro and rural areas, taking over 90,000 drone images, with an average of 7 photos per asset.

In-platform visualisation

All power pole locations were uploaded into their relevant Birdi missions, enabling the precise location of each asset to be visualised on Birdi’s map view. 

Powerpoles marked on the Birdi map

The drone images were then uploaded into each mission and associated with their relevant pole.

Birdi power pole in platform

Review of assets

Citipower & Powercor’s subcontracted inspectors then accessed each inspection mission to inspect each pole for any defects.

Poles without any defects were marked as Inspected and turned green on the map. For poles with defects, a Maintenance Defect Form was completed directly within the Birdi platform, capturing details such as the part of the pole affected, the type of damage and any additional comments by the inspector.

Viewing power pole areas of interest in Birdi platform

The Birdi platform allowed Citipower & Powercor to scope their defect criteria to their own asset network and defect library. This provided the inspectors with a high degree of familiarity even when operating in a new platform and allowed for a simpler integration of identified defects with their SAP maintenance system. 

All asset defects could then be requested in report or excel form by Citipower & Powercor’s asset maintenance team for review and in-field correction. Moving forward, the agreed optimised methodology would be an integration directly with SAP.

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With Birdi, Citipower & Powercor were able to significantly improve their:

  • Powerpole inspection rate - via utilising our drone pilot network for capture; and their
  • Defect identification rate - using the Birdi platform’s asset inspection tools

Through these new technologies and improved defect identification, Citipower & Powercorwere able to provide better service to the Victorian families and businesses they supply power.

If you’re a power and utility company and interested in making similar improvements in your network operations, get in touch with our team!

Simon Aldridge
Simon is the Head of Sales and Operations at Birdi and is the engine that keeps everything running smoothly. He works closely with our Enterprise clients throughout their entire customer journey, to ensure they get the best experience possible with our product. He also has a penchant for writing in all caps, but has promised not to do so on the blog.

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