Designing and Engineering for the Toughest Utility Challenges - Cover image
Designing and Engineering for the Toughest Utility Challenges - Cover image

Designing and Engineering for the Toughest Utility Challenges

Sharper Shape

Power outages are an unfortunate reality for utilities. Two main causes? Vegetation and equipment failures.

Nature waits for no one, and follows no clearence plan. For any utility to stay ahead of nature, it must be able to find an optimal vegetation management plan to cut the risks before they grow.

Utilities are in constant battle to keep the lights on for all their customers, and in this battle every little component counts, and every defect is a dangerous setback. To catch potential defects in time, any utlity has to be proactive, collect and inspect component condition fast and accurately, prioritize the risks, and get to them in time.

For decades, power sector players have been seeking smarter ways to tackle vegetation and asset-related risks and failures.

The Challenge

Having worked with utility companies for years, Sharper Shape’s team came to grasp a key challenge all utilities faced - how to enable proactive, connected asset intelligence to mitigate infrastructure-related risks, thereby empowering people, saving lives, and safeguarding communities?  

Armed with the belief that utilities could be empowered by breaking up data silos and creating a connected solution, giving them more control and better use of their data. The impact of such an approach would be noticeable and positively affect safety, productivity, use of budget and more.

The Solution

The way Sharper Shape saw utility inspection was as a holistic process of inspection automation, enabled by advanced technology and intuitive experiences crafted to cater for the unique needs of each role. 

DK&A was trusted to lead the design of all experiences of Sharper Shape’s digital products, from mission planning to data collection, data visualization, actionable reporting and more. DK&A’s software engineers were responsible for developing companion apps (iOS) for helicopter pilots, drone operators and ground inspections. One key app is also designed for the in-flight operators who need to monitor Sharper Shape’s innovative heliscope unit during the flights.

The Result

Through years’ of partnership, DK&A has played a key role in enabling Sharper Shape’s vision to combine automated aerial data collection with AI and ML-based inspection analysis and forecasting, delivering results that are both proactive and actionable. 

Today, Sharper Shape’s suite of digital products powering helicopter-mounted heliscope and drones are enabling highly specialized technicians to go beyond their former limits, with far  less management. Gathering a 3D representation of power lines with a helicopter allows identifying specific areas for detailed inspections where drone missions come handy – replacing man-made detailed inspections.  

Inspectors mine images taken by drones for potential issues with lines or poles — a highly skilled job for which every second is critical. Combining the data, it is possible to predict if a tree is in danger of tipping over onto a powerline, for example, with greater speed and accuracy than a helicopter team and less expense than with manual, man-made inspections- Powerline owners can also easily leaf through the results in a data viewer, while repair crews retrieve comprehensible outlines of where to go and what to do. 

Combining automation with human and artificial intelligence has enabled a holistic asset intelligence solution for improved operations, reliability, and safety of critical infrastructure. Sharper Shape’s powerful, unified solution improves the effectiveness of preventive maintenance and gives utilities intelligence to create a safer world.

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