Conducting power line inspections in German wetlands for E.DIS Group subsidiary

About the client

E.DIS Netz GmbH

As one of the largest energy service providers in Germany, the E.DIS Group, based in Fürstenwalde / Spree, offers its partners and customers a wide range of diverse energy solutions. E.DIS network area extends from the Baltic Sea to the gates of the Spreewald. The services range from telecommunications to heat supply. E.DIS offers various technical services as well as infrastructure services for municipalities. The range of services offered by E.DIS AG and its subsidiaries and holdings is presented on this website. Find out more on the following pages.

E.DIS AG with its subsidiary E.DIS Netz GmbH is one of the largest regional energy network operators in Germany and operates a 79,000-kilometer power line network in Brandenburg and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania on an area of ​​35,500 square kilometres. In addition, there is an approx. 4,700 km long gas pipeline network in the eastern part of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and in the north of Brandenburg on an area of ​​9,770 square kilometres.

With more than 1,500 employees and over 100 trainees, E.DIS Netz GmbH is one of the largest employers and trainers in East Germany. At three training centers in Rostock, Brandenburg an der Havel and Fürstenwalde/Spree, they train many young people every year, also for third parties. E.DIS Netz has repeatedly been recognized as a “top training company” for the high quality of their training.



Facts and figures about E.DIS Netz:

  • Part of the E.DIS Group
  • 79,000-kilometre power line network
  • Power line operating area of ​​35,500 square kilometres
  • 4,700 km long gas pipeline network
  • Gas pipeline operating area of ​​9,770 square kilometres
  • More than 1,500 employees



Mission overview

E.DIS Netz had been relying on foot patrols and manual inspections for years, but due to them being time-consuming (climbing up the towers to find defects) and sometimes error-prone (using the spyglass inspections), was looking for alternatives and better-suited methods. This led them to drones and inspection software solutions.

E.DIS Netz started actively testing drone technology during the summer of 2021, when it created the first drone inspection teams. Their main goal is to find out the areas and operations for what the drones are perfect for. “We want to make sure our inspectors have the right tools and equipment to conduct effective operations, wherever they might be,” says Florian Lorenz, the head of the E.DIS Netz drone program.

With Hepta, E.DIS Netz wanted to compare the performance of different sized drones and how they can use the collected data in Hepta’s power line inspection platform Insights. To get the most out of the project, three essential goals were set:

  • Hepta was responsible for obtaining all necessary flight permits needed for the execution of the drone inspection flights
  • All of the drone flights would be automatic but within sight of a pilot
  • All of the images taken of the power poles and their tops had to have high resolution for later defect detection



Area of operations

To put the drones to the test and see the advantages of drone power line inspection, a rough and hard to access landscape was chosen for data gathering. Situated near the city of Demmin in the state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, the area is full of high vegetation, groves, moors and rivers. The ample landscape obstacles make it hard for the on-foot inspection teams to get close to the power poles and get a full overview of their state. This is especially true for moors, where it’s hard to move about even in a boat, due to constantly changing water levels.



Preparations for the POC

All of the needed equipment (drones, sensors, tools etc.) was provided by Hepta and shipped via land to the operations area in Germany before the start of the project. Extended testing for COVID-19 and different measures were used to ensure the Hepta operations team and various participants’ safety during the tests. All of the necessary flight permits were granted and autonomous flight plans were created before the start of the activities in the Mecklenburg-Vorpommern area.

Hepta drone operator working for E.DIS

Hepta’s drone operator at work

Execution of the tests

All of the power line inspection data-gathering flights were conducted autonomously within sight of a pilot (VLOS), which allowed for easy and thorough data collection. Instead of trying to cross moors and climb towers, the drone operators were able to gather the needed data from dry land. And in the case of agricultural areas, the drone flights allowed inspectors to forgo crossing fields, thus not possibly disturbing any plants or crops. In total over 40 kilometres of high and medium voltage power lines and transmission towers were inspected with drones.

For data gathering, the Hepta drone operations team paired and used a DJI Matrice 300 drone together with a PhaseOne P3 camera set-up. The drone operators were able to take high-resolution pictures of the pole tops and bodies, allowing for quick and easy defect detection and inspection. The average time it took to conduct a power line transmission tower inspection with a drone was less than 10 minutes.

Hepta's inspection photo of E.DIS power line

Power line crossing a moor near Demmin

The collected data was uploaded and analyzed in Hepta’s specialized power line inspection platform Insights. Hepta Insights combines all of the collected data into a map-based overview, where it can be inspected either manually or by employing machine learning algorithms. This allows network operators to have up to 250% faster inspection cycles, which in turn allows them to detect and fix possible hazards earlier before they start affecting the power supply.

Conclusions and client feedback

All of the goals set at the start of the project were fulfilled and the operations executed without problems. Undisturbed by the landscape and different obstacles, Hepta’s drone operations team were able to gather data for all lines and objects. The images provided valuable insights and a detailed overview of the state of E.DIS Netz assets. The end results also pleased the head of the E.DIS Netz drone program Mr. Florian Lorenz, who concluded “While more tests are needed to make decisions on the drones, we were pleased with the level of detail and great overview we got from Hepta Insights”.

Hepta's drone set-up for E.DIS
While more tests are needed to make decisions on the drones, we were pleased with the level of detail and great overview we got from Hepta Insights
Florian Lorenz, head of the E.DIS Netz drone program

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