Enel uses drones to inspect its underground electrical network

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Enel Distribuição São Paulo, electricity concessionaire for 24 municipalities in Greater São Paulo, announced on Monday (5) that it has been using drones to inspect its distribution network. But not the surface, but the underground. The technology is still unprecedented among other companies in the electricity sector, and the activity promises more agility, safety and precision to customers and electricians.

Enel currently has around 10,700 structures that connect to the underground electrical network: these are called “boxes”. These locations are periodically visited by the company’s electricians to carry out inspections, such as thermography, electrical and gas measurements, to ensure the safety and perfect functioning of the facilities.

Working in these cramped and unhealthy spaces, full of transformers and switches, is a complex task that, in addition to special training, demands constant recycling. To protect workers, it is necessary to ensure a structure for their removal in case of accidents, such as the installation of tripods for quick lifting, and the use of gas detectors.

How will drones do the inspection?

The use of drones will allow Enel to scan its transformers at a higher frequency — currently, it takes place every three years.

In addition, “the use of the drone brings more safety to our electricians”, says Bruno Cecchetti, responsible for the Network Technology area at Enel Brasil, in a statement.

Instead of teams of three professionals, the operation using drones requires only two. The existing conditions inside the boxes are recorded by a 4K camera, and later the images are forwarded to the distributor’s back office areas, to schedule maintenance actions, if applicable.

Protected by a spherical structure to protect against shocks and falls, the equipment manufactured by the Swiss company Flyability has already been tested in downtown São Paulo, along Avenida Paulista and Alameda Santos.

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