Information is power

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Pole Top Photography & LiDAR

We know we are a bit geeky, but one of the highlights of our year has been our Pole Top Photography and LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) technology trial.

This technology has the potential to really enhance the work we do for you. It provides greater visibility of the condition of our overhead lines and surrounding vegetation, helping us prioritise where we invest our resource.

The clue to Pole Top Photography is in its name. It involves taking high resolution images of each pole top from a helicopter. In our trial we surveyed 33,191 rural poles, with each pole photographed 12 times from different angles. The photos are then reviewed against our asset inspection criteria to identify defects. The photography allowed us to find and repair 37 previously unknown high-risk network defects. This was an excellent result. These high-risk defects pose significant safety and/or reliability risks, and many were in remote rural areas so could go unnoticed for some time. The data collected also identified other less critical defects that we are now prioritising for fixing.

LiDAR works by using laser light to measure distances to objects. It collects millions of points of data, which are amazingly collated into a 3D model of the lines, poles, houses, trees and other structures on our network. From this we can identify where trees and other vegetation are growing too close to our overhead lines and may cause potential outages.

Using LiDAR we could survey the entire Whanganui network area in just a few months, including the critical 33kV sub transmission lines. This technology meant we could manage significant hazards quickly and efficiently, which is exciting for our team and great for our customers. In the future, this high-quality information will influence our investment decisions, including our cyclical vegetation programme priorities and network replacement strategies.

Our Challenge

Developing and maintaining a resilient network to safely and reliably support you, means we need the eyes of a hawk to monitor high-risk defects across our network.

Our Solution

Pole Top Photography and LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) technology.

It involves taking high resolution images of each pole top from a helicopter.

LiDAR uses laser light to measure distance to objects. It collects millions of data points, collating these into a 3D model of the lines, poles, houses, trees and other structures on our network.

This identifies vegetation that’s too close to overhead lines, and may cause potential outages.  Resulting photos are also reviewed against asset inspection criteria to identify any defects.

A Technology Trial in Whanganui

Whanganui was chosen for a LiDAR technology trial due to its varied landscape. It’s historical vegetation management practices, storm damage, and the age of its network assets, combined for an interesting scenario.

How we did it:

  • We surveyed 33,191 rural poles

  • Each pole was photographed 12 times from different angles

  • Inspection revealed 37 previously unknown high-risk network defects that could be addressed – this was an excellent result

What this Means

LiDAR technology has the potential to enhance the work we do for you;

We can identify and respond quickly and efficiently to significant hazards.

It provides greater visibility of the overhead line conditions, and surrounding vegetation, so we can invest our resource in priority projects.

High-risk defects pose significant safety and reliability risks – those located in remote rural areas could go unnoticed without LiDAR.