Pilot project provides important insights into the use of modern robot technology for the inspection of substations
Since July 2021, the pilot project has been running in an E.DIS substation in Germany. In the current test phase, mobile, autonomous robots with highly sensitive measuring systems are being adapted to the special requirements of the network operator - in close cooperation with Energy Robotics. These robots are ideally suited to reliably automate repetitive tasks such as reading out measured values and collecting inspection data. The robots are being intensively tested on site and developed together with experts from Energy Robotics. The goal is to create a solution that can be easily adapted to any desired location in a cost-efficient and resource-saving manner. One advantage of the selected test site is the stable 5G mobile network. However, the LTE (4G) standard is sufficient for reliable transmission of the recorded data. Furthermore, the characteristics of the substation are typical for E.DIS. After the pilot phase, full deployment in several E.DIS substations in the states of Brandenburg and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania is a possible scenario.
"In order to be able to use digital solutions in the inspection of substation equipment and technology in the future and also to benefit from them in the long term, E.DIS launched this pilot project here a few weeks ago," Sven Mögling, Innovation Manager at E.DIS, explained the energy service provider's motives for the digital project in Altentreptow during an on-site meeting. He is supported by several software and hardware experts in the field of autonomous inspection robots - including robotics experts from Energy Robotics. The innovative start-up is one of the leading developers of software solutions for mobile inspection robots in industrial applications. These are used, for example, in sectors such as the oil and gas industry as well as the chemical and energy industries. The goal is to keep people out of dangerous work environments by deploying autonomous robots, while increasing the quality and frequency of inspections at the same time.
Marc Dassler, CEO of Energy Robotics, is excited about the current ongoing collaboration, "For us, this is a great opportunity to prove once again that our inspection robots are operational in many different industries. They can carry out inspection missions in high-risk areas such as in the oil and gas industry just as well as in plants for thermal exhaust air purification or precisely in the substations of an energy service provider - the possible applications are diverse and can be tailored to the different requirements of the client."
In addition to the software platform from Energy Robotics, several experienced manufacturers are providing the hardware to be used, such as the robots themselves, and also the camera and intelligent control technology. E.DIS expects to gain numerous new insights into the inspection of substation technology, such as the reading of analog measuring instruments. Additionally, basic safety issues are also to be checked and monitored, such as whether the existing substation fences have suffered damage and whether doors have not been locked.
Further, the camera components installed on the robots can also be used to create comprehensive 3D maps of the substation site. In addition to the actual recording and storage of such data and information, the focus of the extensive test currently underway is also on the required transmission via mobile communications.
"All of this has already been successfully tested on the E.DIS site in Altentreptow as part of the pilot project, which we are already very pleased about," said Sven Mögling. "However, we still have some challenges ahead of us. For example, we are curious to see how changing weather conditions with storms and heavy rain will affect the reliability of data recording and transmission."
The advantages of digital robot technology also includes the possibility to significantly shorten existing inspection cycles in the future. Additionally, event-related conditions in the substation, for example during a heavy storm, can be checked remotely, which will further increase the network operator's work safety standards.
The test phase, including permanent further development, is initially scheduled at E.DIS until the end of the year.
Every year, E.DIS invests around 100 million euros in its networks, which have a line length of around 80,000 kilometers, which would stretch twice around the equator. Approximately 1.3 million households, commercial and industrial enterprises are connected to this network. E.DIS AG with its subsidiary E.DIS Netz GmbH is one of the largest regional energy network operators in Germany. With about 2,500 employees, including about 190 trainees, the E.DIS Group is one of the largest employers in the new federal states.
For more information, visit https://www.e-dis-netz.de/de.html