What Should You Look for in a Utility Inspection Provider?

Finding a reliable utility inspection provider is important both in terms of cost and safety. Whether a company is running older systems, brand new systems, or middle-of-the-line systems, there are unique challenges that will be faced. A utility inspection provider is the first line of defense against more significant and damaging issues. 

But how do you find a utility inspection provider that will work well for you? 

Here are a few important questions to ask.

What equipment do they have experience in?

As equipment ages, skills gaps can be introduced. There may not be technicians who are familiar with equipment from the 70s, 90s, or even 00s. But it also isn’t always the oldest equipment in operation that gives a company the most problems. Many older technologies are reliable, and newer technologies can require additional training.

With all that in mind, companies need to be conscientious about the technology they have and whether their utility inspection provider is well-versed in it. Ideally, the provider should have technicians who are specialists in every type of technology the power company is using. 

Do they have advanced software or hardware technology?

The role of a utility inspection provider is changing; it’s becoming far more robust. With new, advanced solutions such as drones and machine learning, inspection providers can learn much more about a system, and identify potential issues with greater levels of reliability. But not all inspection providers have changed over to new technology. Ask about the provider’s systems, how they deliver their inspections, and what they’re doing to modernize their solutions. 

Are there any testimonials or reviews available?

Customer testimonials and third-party reviews are a great resource. While they can’t always tell you the detailed benefits of working with an inspection provider, what it will do is tell you any major problems that many people have experienced. You can also take a look at the Better Business Bureau to see if there have been any formal complaints lodged. Ask the provider about any negative reviews you see. They may be able to explain it, or even describe changes that they’ve made since.

What are the costs involved in the inspections?

One of the advantages of better technology is that an inspection provider can pass savings along to the customer. With better technology, inspections can be done safer and faster. If you’re vetting several inspection providers, you’ll want to know which have the best rates. But don’t choose based on rates alone. While one provider might have slightly higher rates than others, they may also have greater levels of accuracy.

Are they specialized in any particular energy industry?

Does the company deal with city electrical inspection? Or private solar systems? UAV for energy products will vary, depending on whether the company manages renewable energy sources or traditional energy sources. Renewable energy sources are continuing to emerge into the mainstream and are becoming an important part of the global energy future. Traditional energy sources are still necessary and vital, and they require different types of inspections. It’s best to deal with inspection providers who have clients with the same industry you’re in.

When can they get involved?

There are different levels to a utility company, from first development to later maintenance. Whether the company is better at the initial land surveying and project planning or focuses primarily on maintenance and repairs will matter. Your company may want to have a valuable partner that can work with you from the beginning to the end… or you may just need a company that can help you with your general maintenance.

It’s worth it to take a little more time to explore your options when trying to find a utility inspection provider. After all, the inspection provider is going to be guarding your most important assets. If you want to learn more about how inspections can help your organization, and how best-in-class technologies matter, contact the experts at Landpoint.

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Why Drones are Essential for Power Line Inspection

26 power line workers are electrocuted every year. It’s a dangerous job. Strangulation, falling, and other hazards are all risks that must be mitigated and guarded against. But all this can be virtually erased with the use of safe, cost-effective, and accurate drone powerline inspections. Drones can be used for everything from solar power inspections to construction site safety surveys, and they’re also revolutionizing the industry of power line inspection. For areas where physical technicians may need to put their safety on the line, drones are essential.

How Drone Powerline Inspection Produces Faster, More Efficient Results

Drones are able to map out an area quickly, zipping through power lines while still avoiding towers and other potential hazards. Since drones are agile, small, and lightweight, they can cover a lot of territory that a traditional aerial vehicle could not. And, because they aren’t manned, they don’t represent any human danger. 

Through the 3D mapping system, drones can determine the most efficient routes through even larger installations. They can fly a complete circuit between areas, and complete complex data collection, including both photography and laser scanning. Once the data has been recorded, it can be viewed by an expert operator, who can identify any potential issues. Drones can even be fitted with sensors so they can detect abnormalities, such as unusual heat signals.

Better and More Frequent Power Line Inspections

When power line inspections require a significant amount of work hours (and potential danger to technicians), they aren’t done as frequently. It’s mildly dangerous to just climb a tower, and no one wants to do that if it isn’t necessary. But with drones, power line inspections can be conducted more frequently, leading to more consistent results and reduced power outages.

Data collected from drones can also be fed into machine learning systems to begin anticipating potential issues, and to generate more accurate maintenance schedules. Together with IoT devices, sensors, and machine learning technology, power-line solutions can become more effective overall.

While drone technology has existed for some time, the new, intelligent drone systems, and better software and hardware, are making drones more effective at more complex tasks. As drone technology continues to advance, it’s likely that a great deal of inspection, scanning, and surveying processes will become off-loaded to them.

Improved Safety and Quality-of-Life for Technicians

With drones, the role of the technician switches from potentially putting themselves in precarious, dangerous positions, and into what they do best: diagnostics and analysis. Better safety leads to a happier and more conscientious workforce, in addition to overall reduced costs and better quality of work. 

No company wants to be responsible for disasters and incidents, but the truth is that any line inspection, whether it’s power lines or telephone lines, has the potential to be dangerous, even with proper safety precautions. Up until fairly recently, manual line inspections were also a necessity. Drone technology has advanced to the point where it can now safely replace many high-risk inspection tasks.

Power line inspections no longer need to be dangerous or time-consuming, and that’s great news for the power industry. From companies that are specializing in wind power, to companies that are managing large scale power distribution networks, drones can be used to ensure that maintenance and upkeep is followed, and that potentially dangerous issues are noted before they become a problem. 

Drones for the Power Industry

But drones aren’t just valuable for inspections. They can also be used during the development of power lines, to survey locations and scan them, and to create 3D models and simulations of the future installations. They can be used throughout the process of developing and setting in power lines to ensure that the development is going smoothly. And they can be used for other elements of the power system, such as inspecting power equipment and power facilities.

As technicians become more accustomed to working from photographs, aerial views, and simulations, they will also become more effective at quickly diagnosing issues without having to introduce high-risk human intervention. The energy market is being transformed with drone technology, leading to lower costs, reduced risk, and better uptime. For more information about how drones can help the power industry, contact the experts at LandPoint.

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How to Find Expert Natural Gas Inspection Companies

The world of pipeline surveying and inspection is getting a boost through new, advanced surveying technologies — designed to improve upon the pre-planning, planning, and maintenance stages of oil field projects. Today, new survey technologies can get your pipeline project off the ground faster, resulting in reduced delays and fewer potential reworks. Here’s what you need to know about new pipeline surveying technology and how to find expert natural gas inspection companies.

The Benefits of Natural Gas Inspection and Surveying

Drone services can be used for complete oil and gas pipeline inspections, beginning with the original pipeline surveying. For natural gas facilities, surveying can be completed to determine whether there may be obstructions on the planned path, to simulate impact to the environment, and to identify any other issues that might arise when the project is underway. Proper surveying saves an organization a significant amount of money, by improving the accuracy of the plans.

In addition to preliminary surveying, natural gas inspection companies are able to ensure that pipelines and natural gas facilities are well-maintained and prepared as needed. Regular natural gas safety inspection can catch issues as they arise, rather than when they become problematic. New IoT devices and sensors can be used to capture even more complicated information around natural gas installations, identifying potential leaks, unusual levels of heat, and other irregularities.

When it comes to natural gas, safety and environmental issues are a major priority. Better, more frequent, and more timely inspections are an excellent way for a company to improve the safety of their operations from the very beginning of the project. But in addition to safety, natural gas inspection can also make a natural gas site more predictable, reliable, and profitable — companies will find that as their inspections increase, their productivity will, too. Safer, well-maintained sites lead to better production time.

Finding the Right Natural Gas Inspection Companies

The core benefits of natural gas inspection aside, how can a company find the right inspection companies? Many natural gas inspection companies only specialize in residential or development services, rather than serving the natural gas industry. Here are some important things to consider.

  • Technology. Are inspections being completed manually or through the use of advanced technology such as UAVs? UAVs are faster, safer, and more efficient when it comes to pipeline inspection. UAVs are able to fly close to infrastructure, identify problems with extreme accuracy, and do not put any human operators at risk. In addition to the physical technology, ask about the software and data. How is data saved, stored, and analyzed? How will it be accessed?
  • Experience. Does the UAV company frequently serve the natural gas industry, or are they more focused on other types of surveying and inspection? While there are many UAV companies that have the capacity to perform a pipeline or natural gas inspection, not all of them specialize. Specialists are more likely to be experts and are more likely to deliver accurate and meaningful information. 
  • Reputation. Have they been in the industry long? Do they have clients who can vouch for them? As drone technology advances and its benefits are seen, there are many new UAV companies who may not have enough experience with natural gas inspection. Look for companies that have been using UAVs and related surveying technology for a long time, and understand the intricacies of these technologies inside and out.

It’s important to spend the time to find the right inspection company, as these inspection companies will be responsible for keeping your site safe and operational. The right natural gas inspection companies will be able to operate as a partner, helping you through the initial stages of your project and continued maintenance, repairs, and expansion. For more information about the benefits of oil and gas drone technology, contact the experts at Landpoint.

Types of Land Survey Services: Which Do You Need?

Land surveying covers a wide variety of products and services, depending on the type of surveying that’s needed for a project. Not only does surveying occur during different stages of a project and for a variety of industries, but it’s also completed with the use of different methods and technologies. Here is a complete overview of the different types of land surveying services, including which types of land surveying are most likely to be of use for you.

Land Surveying Basics: How is Surveying Performed?

Land surveying can be completed through manned aerial missions, unmanned aerial vehicles, and manned ground travel. Surveying is one of the oldest professions in existence. Before anything can be built, the land must be surveyed and perimeters must be marked. The surrounding area must be cleared, any major issues have to be identified, and often environmental studies need to be completed.

Originally, ground travel was the most common method of land survey, and it’s still used when smaller areas are being surveyed. Surveyors use a variety of tools to map out the topography of an area by hand. Usually, this type of land surveying is used to do things like draw out simple boundary lines within suburban and urban areas. It takes time and poses some risk to the surveyors themselves.

Once airplanes and helicopters became a viable method of surveying, large surveys became far more feasible. But there are still some problems with these types of manned aerial missions: They’re expensive and can be dangerous. Even with the rigorous modern safety standards of airplanes and helicopters, there is always some level of risk when it comes to sending a crew into the air.

Today, surveying is often best performed through unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). Commonly known as drones, UAVs make it possible to scan terrain quickly without any surveyors ever having to be in the air. But planes, drones, and helicopters are only the methods of collecting the information; surveys also differ in how the information is collected, and how the information is used. Surveying usually uses two different types of technology to collect data: photogrammetric imaging and LiDAR imaging. Photogrammetric imaging captures information through a sequence of photos. LiDAR imaging captures information using highly precise laser scanning, for high precision land surveying.

Types of Land Surveying Services: When Do You Need a Survey?

Boundary surveys, construction staking, easement surveys, land partitions, well staking, topographic mapping, and more: There are countless types of surveying that may be needed for a project. Surveys can be completed pre-design, during the design, to manage the project, and even after the project — for the purposes of maintenance and repairs. When you need a land survey depends on how your project will use the survey, and the surveyor you hire.

Pre-design surveys are often used to simulate how a project will interact with the environment, how it will look and feel, and how much it will cost. During construction, surveys can improve the safety of the work site, and ensure that everything is progressing as it should. Post construction, surveys can be used to identify any potential problems, and to see whether maintenance or repair issues have arisen. 

The Industries of Land Surveying: How Do Different Industries Use their Surveys?

Land surveying is used throughout virtually every industry. Pipeline companies use surveying to identify the ideal routes for their pipelines in the pre-planning stages, as well as identify any potential issues with the surrounding environment. Solar companies use surveys to determine the most efficient placement of their solar panels, and to maintain their solar panels through inspections later. Construction companies often use land surveying as a way of simulating their projects before they even begin, and they can capture information for the future — such as for modifications and expansions.

Altogether, since land surveying is such a broad process, it can be difficult to know exactly what type of land survey service is needed. But that’s why there are land surveying companies. Land surveying companies can go over the details of your project and your needs to determine the ideal land surveying process for you. Contact Landpoint today to start with your consultation.