LiDAR. Seriously, It’s Worth It.
Our Head of Technical Sales, Robert Baxley, recently gave a great presentation on the value in LiDAR for utilities. LiDAR (Light Detection & Ranging) is a remote sensing method whereby light pulses travel to and bounce off of an object, and when the light returns to the sensor, it records a range. For utilities, LiDAR scans of distribution infrastructure offer mission-critical insight that helps them optimize processes and mitigate risks network-wide.
1. An investment in LiDAR is an investment in future-proofing your network
For utilities that are just commencing their journey to implementing more intelligent analytics, there are few investments more versatile or helpful than LiDAR. Forward-thinking utilities are using LiDAR scans of distribution infrastructure to build digital network models that drive data-driven decision making about everything from severe weather preparation to decarbonization. A LiDAR-informed network model allows you to visualize your entire network right from your screen — for example, you can easily spot a clearance risk or an overloaded pole, and as a result, focus your team’s field time on addressing imminent safety issues. When coupled with the right analytics, utilities are recovering LiDAR’s investment cost many times over.
2. Visualizing your network is understanding your network
LiDAR helps asset management teams quickly identify every incidence of clearance violation across their whole network.Utilities can then target work to mitigate those risks and enhance general network and public safety. The LiDAR scan is effectively a detailed, 3D, high-detail “picture” of every asset in your network. Teams can use it to scope assets during incident response. Field operations teams can digitally inspect a pole in advance of a site visit, so that they know exactly what needs to be done on arrival, and can potentially even save a trip. Furthermore, a LiDAR-enabled network visualization contributes to a single version of reality that every team can direct their work around, streamlining cross-functional collaboration that otherwise relies on paper processes and real-time communication.
3. LiDAR helps identify critical risks to your assets and community
Maintenance and asset management teams cannot track, maintain or de-risk assets they can’t locate. It also is common for some poles to be hundreds of feet from their reported location, or simply not exist at all – making inspections, maintenance and general upkeep much more difficult, if not impossible.
In the context of a digital network model, LiDAR scans enable asset management and network risk teams to find and act upon asset risks that would otherwise be hard to detect. Cantered cross arms, leaning poles and close-to-touching conductors present dangers that could cause network outages or significant physical hazards — and they aren’t easy to detect in a traditional network model.
Understanding ground topology around network assets not only helps maintenance teams with site access, but also helps them make more informed decisions about prioritization and clearance. For example, a slightly low line in a non-traversable location is much less of a danger than the same clearance violation above flat terrain. The ability to identify and address these nuanced circumstances at a network-wide scale can make the difference between protecting and endangering your community.
To learn more about the advantages of LiDAR, click here.
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