Maintenance at New Heights
If there is one thing that electric cooperatives are proud of, but which they might not be known for, it’s innovation. Innovation is one of Cass County Electric’s core values, and we strive to stay up-to-date on the latest technology. We are continually investing in a variety of tools to stay ahead of our members’ needs and make sure we are providing safe and reliable power.
We have a variety of technology “gadgets” in our toolbox, including two drones: the Phantom 4 quadcopter and the DJI Matrice M200 V2.
The Phantom 4 can reach a maximum height of more than 19,000 feet and can reach speeds higher than 40 miles per hour. It features an array of sensors that adjust to flight conditions, allowing it to maintain a steady hover in gusting winds. The Phantom 4’s camera is capable of capturing incredibly high-quality video in 4K resolution at 30 frames per second. The pilot sees
everything the drone sees while flying, excellent for real-time observation of hard-to-reach equipment.
The DJI Matrice M200 V2 is an infrared thermal imaging drone (IR UAV), which is equipped with a variety of features such as the ability to switch camera lenses or mount another camera, it can withstand Fargo’s wind conditions up to 25 miles per hour, and it can take on temperatures as low as four below zero. The thermal camera takes our maintenance efforts to new heights and provides us with unique insight on overheating equipment. Overheating equipment can hint at a malfunction and likely a looming failure that may not show any outward sign until it
causes a power outage.
Drones provide new opportunities to inspect our power lines. Even equipment that isn’t suspended high in the air can be challenging to access if the ground is overly wet. Our drones take some of the legwork out of equipment inspections and limit the need for trucks or tracked vehicles to risk getting stuck.
Using the drone’s camera, employees have spotted issues with pole-top equipment without the need to dispatch a bucket truck, saving line crews time. Not only do the drones help with finding issues in the power lines, but they also provide an opportunity to inspect our substations and solar array.
Ultimately, the benefits of operating drones for Cass County Electric and our members include providing another layer of safety for employees, saving time, and money. We strive to stay at
the forefront of technological advancement, helping us work safely and more efficiently to provide the best service we can to our members.