The Electricity Company of Ghana Limited (ECG) has launched the use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV), also known as Drones in the operations of the company on Thursday, 22nd October 2020. This was done after successfully training ECG Engineers on how to pilot, operate and utilize the drones at the company’s training school in Tema.
The task of maintaining and inspecting high voltage transmission and distribution lines which continually have vegetation growing on different sections can be difficult, dangerous and costly. As a result, utilities across the world are increasingly looking toward drones as a safe and effective tool to support them in such operations.
The deployment of 15 Wingtra UAV’s, the first of its kind in the company, will support the company’s operations since it has become necessary for the effective monitoring of the company’s distribution network to curb the major challenge of vegetation interference which results in outages.
The applications of having a UAV and a trained pilot for utilities are numerous. Some other benefits this new introduction brings to the company’s operations include;
- Identification of weak spots on the network, which cause outages, for prompt rectification.
- Routine technical inspections in the power network to identify defects.
- Right of way inspections of overhead lines.
- Thermal inspections of the network to identify hot spots
- Verification of work done by bush-clearing and tree-cutting contractors
- Route mapping for construction of new distribution lines
- Troubleshooting of portions of the network to locate faults for isolation on overhead lines.
- Reduce/Eliminate the physical human limitation of traversing through difficult terrain to inspect faults.
The Wingtra Drones, supplied and serviced by Sahara Natural Resources, can last 1hour in-flight and travel as far as 8km and still be in contact with its control unit whilst continually taking pictures and recording videos along its flight path.
The Managing Director, Mr Kwame Agyeman-Budu, said the use of the Drones will be vital in ensuring stable power supply to customers. The drones give the company the ability to access difficult locations on power lines during inspections for maintenance works without having to shut down the lines which may result in prolonged outages.
Mr Agyeman-Budu, who was himself elated at the new technology, was full of praise for the company’s Board of Directors for their immense support in making this new concept a reality.
As a customer-oriented company, the use of the Drones will assist the company to reduce the frequency and duration of outages, thereby improving the reliability of power supply to ensure the satisfaction of our customers.
Other initiatives rolled out this year to improve our services to customers include the introduction of the ECG mobile app known as ECG POWER, which is fully in operation for online purchasing of electricity, making enquiries and meter management at the convenience of the customer. The ECG Web Portal which can be accessed on the internet gives customers the ease of managing their ECG accounts in the comfort of their homes/offices. The digitization and upgrade of the ECG Call Centre into a Contact Centre brings a more personalized experience for our customers. Other E-platforms introduced this year also include Bulk SMS-broadcasts and a WhatsApp business contact for quick messaging to customers.
ECG is optimistic that the inclusion of drones in its operations will improve efficiency, reliability of power supply to customers, modernize its operations and position the company to become a leading utility service provider.