Utility Contractor

JUL-AUG 2018

As the official magazine of NUCA, Utility Contractor presents the latest information affecting every aspect of the utility construction industry, including technological advancements, safety issues, legislative developments and instructional advice.

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22 Utility Contractor | July/August 2018 I n today's digital economy, U.S. utility companies are rethinking their operations as advanced technologies present new opportunities to stay competitive while also improving worker safety. Drones offer tremendous potential to revolutionize how the utility industry manages operations, offering a dramatic way to cut costs, reduce time and prevent injuries — while giving utility companies the real-time, detailed information they need to precisely manage their operations. It's well known that risk of injury or fatality in the utilities sector is very real. Workplace fatalities in the transportation, warehous- ing and utilities sector comprised 17.3% of all U.S. workforce fa- talities according to 2015 figures compiled by the CDC. Drones offer huge safety benefits, reducing the need for workers to climb towers, examine foliage near high-voltage equipment, physically assess damage after a natural disaster, or drive remote roads. With the close-up aerial images that drones provide, workers can spot maintenance issues without the need to climb poles or physically access hard-to-reach infrastructure. Companies can identify prob- lems around pipelines by directly visualizing leaks with multi- spectral imaging cameras. They can also monitor potential con- struction site hazards and help project managers to mitigate safety risks before accidents occur. So how exactly can drones improve worker safety in utility in- dustry operations? Here are five ways: 1. Inspections. In the U.S. alone, there are 200,000 miles of high-voltage transmission lines, more than 52,000 utility-scale wind turbines and more than 600 coal-fired power plants. Each needs routine inspection and maintenance. Five Ways Drones Can Improve Safety in the Utilities Industry By Mike Danielak

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