Utilizing a cloud-based digital twin to monitor and maintain pole health.

Background
Pole health inspection is a prime example of how difficult it is for utilities to assess their network. The geographic dispersion of electrical distribution makes asset inspection complicated and expensive. 

An Australian utility approached Neara to identify a scalable solution.

Challenge
There are many factors that influence a pole’s overall condition: age, material, weather exposure and the physical load the structure supports.

Like many inspection programs, the utility’s approach was to use field personnel to visit each pole in order to perform a condition assessment. 

The existing process was slow and unscalable. Analysis was basic and in many instances required additional engineering resources for loading determination, or additional surveys, designs and analysis.

Solution
Neara Analytics is a network-wide, fully-customizable analytics and reporting platform. 

Neara Analytics combines detailed per-asset analysis with whole-of-network scale. Users can precisely define any number of spatial or structural scenarios of interest and run them across the network. Users can then view and analyze results globally, or drill into individual asset profile details in a 3D, multi-layered, and wholly interactive environment. 

As a cloud-based software solution, sharing and collaborating on workflows, reports, and dashboards is effortless. Users on any computer can leverage the same analytical tools and insights. 

The utility used their existing engineering standards, recorded GIS data and captured LiDAR to create a 3D model of the network. The Neara platform was used to ensure the network model was spatially correct and to model the specific properties of the assets for loading analysis.

This enabled the utility to extract, model and analyze tipload scenarios for all poles. With Neara’s cloud-based functionality, reports can now be delivered to inspectors in the field. Poles can now also be assessed from the office based on their load profile and their previously recorded condition and age.

Delivery
Neara Analytics was utilised to collect and analyze the utility’s data through a few simple steps: 

  1. Network-wide analysis and asset management: Each utility has a range of pole types and properties as well as conductors installed on their network that can be ingested into the Neara platform. All existing information regarding the utility’s physical properties can help understand behaviour under load.
  2. LiDAR: LiDAR capture can vary in quality and completeness. However, Neara’s advanced engineering and physics-enabled analysis ensures accurate calculations to deliver clarity as to how the cables and poles are behaving at any given moment in time.
  3. Centralized data: Neara is able to ingest and utilize the utility’s existing asset collection data from various inputs and in varied conditions of quality. Our intelligent platform enables utilities to translate their insights into executable workflows.
  4. One integrated platform, countless use-cases: Once the model was created, multiple cases could be extracted to analyze different potential scenarios, including pole capacity, tipload, building encroachment, wildfire risk and more.

Outcomes
The utility now has a scalable solution for pole assessment. 

From a desktop, the utility can review and easily determine if the poles are overloaded and can make an immediate call to rectify or replace the pole based on the reported condition. This was previously a manual process, only achievable at the point of inspection. In some cases, the utility has been able to use the digital twin to reduce thousands of site visits per year. 

Moving forward, the utility will be able to make predictions on which assets will need to be condemned, influencing purchasing decisions and the general sustainability of the fleet.

Discover how Neara Designer, Analytics and Point Cloud solutions can bring you closer to your assets, environment and business.