Trends & Technology

Tata Power-DDL Plans to Employ Drones for Faster Maintenance of Distribution Network

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  • Studying recently issued  DGCA Guidelines on Operation of Civil Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS)  for making  optimal use of the technology

Tata Power Delhi Distribution (Tata Power-DDL) is planning to employ drones for faster maintenance of its distribution network to offer better and accurate service resolutions to its 7 million consumers in the National Capital.

The company has used nano drones in two pilot projects at Ashok Vihar and Rani Bagh in April-May to study the viability of drone application for surveillance of grids, sub-transmission lines network and grid equipment. The use of drones will provide faster, better and more accurate service resolution as well as enhance safety of personnel deployed for such daunting tasks. The company is using nano-drones with flying capacity below 200 ft. with permission from Delhi Police and local authorities.

Speaking on the Initiative Mr. Sanjay Banga, CEO, Tata Power-DDL said, “Drones are being used around the globe in applications ranging from shipping and delivery to geographic mapping, search and rescue to precision agriculture, weather forecast to law enforcement et al. With the pilot project we’re exploring  its applicability in the power distribution sector. Usage of drones for maintenance will not only help us reduce the downtime, but will also give better insights for future projects. The project will have wide application in the years to come and will help us serve our consumers better.”

Usage of drones helps in capturing close-up, detailed imagery of the installations scanning potential defects for the maintenance personnel. Drones can also capture tower and pole images from various angles giving a fuller picture, which is often not possible with other inspection methods. The process will enhance the capturing of more credible data which can in turn help in making better decisions while minimizing the downtime during maintenance and any contingencies.

Tata Power-DDL is studying the recently issued guidelines by the  office of Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA ) on the Requirements for Operation of Civil Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS), effective from Dec. 1, 2018,  for making optimal use of the technology.

The pilot projects covered monitoring of conductor sag, vegetation management, pole top inspection, solar panel inspection, infrared inspection for hot spots, monitoring of circuit, identification of any abnormalities such as bird nests, bee hives or defects with equipment. The pilot also  explores right of way management to determine if anyone is encroaching on lines along with thermal inspection at grids.

Tata Power Delhi Distribution Limited (Tata Power-DDL) is a joint venture between Tata Power and the Government of NCT of Delhi with the majority stake being held by Tata Power Company (51%). Tata Power-DDL distributes electricity in North & North West parts of Delhi and serves a populace of 7 million. The company started operations on July 1, 2002 post the unbundling of the erstwhile Delhi Vidyut Board (DVB). With a registered consumer base of 1.6 million and a peak load of around 1960 MW, the company's operations span across an area of 510 sq. kms. Tata Power-DDL has been the front-runner in implementing power distribution reforms in the capital city and is acknowledged for its consumer friendly practices. Since privatization, the Aggregate Technical & Commercial (AT&C) losses in Tata Power-DDL areas have shown a record decline. AT&C loss is a measure of overall efficiency of the distribution business which is the difference between units input into the system and the units for which the payment is collected. Today, AT&C losses stand at 8.5 % which is an unprecedented reduction of around 84% from an opening loss level of 53% in July 2002.

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