High voltage line maintenance: Which solutions?

The need of 24/7 service

With more than 100 million kilometers of power lines over the world and an increased dependency to energy supply, most of the countries are now facing the complex challenge of service continuity. Service continuity is a major stake for allocations and at any time. It could be really critical for sensitive sites such as hospitals, nuclear plants, industrial factories even if some of them are system redundancies to avoid any breakdown. In occidental countries, population wants to use electricity without any restrictions. To guarantee the best service to their users, electricity infrastructure companies put a lot of effort to inspect and maintain the installation in a regular basis.

Corona discharge is one of the major phenomena involved in power line damages. This effect is an early warning indicator which triggers the needs of repair or maintenance. Different type of systems are currently used. They could be acoustic or using Ultra-Violet or Infra-Red spectrum, which brings better sensitivity and resolution.

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Handhed system

The most common systems are handheld devices. By scanning the power line, the technician is able to detect the discharge or an unusual temperature elevation. Even if this solution seems easy to implement, it remains time consuming and could be difficult to cover large distances or to have access of region hidden by trees or vegetation. Being on the ground, operators could be quite far from the discharge, which involve the use of high sensitive camera , such as Photonis iNocturn SUV.  This camera is the combination of image intensifier tube which amplifies the light signal more than 100 000 times, coupled with a low light CMOS sensor. This unique solution allows the detection of very low signal in the UV band.       


Helicopter mounted system

In order to accelerate the inspection time, some companies use helicopters. In this case, systems need to be ruggedized in order to be integrated to aerial platforms. Flight qualification tests have to be performed. In addition to integration constraints, such as in some cases the use of gyrostabilisation, camera operations have to be compatible to helicopters speed and 19 Hz rotor frequency. Photonis iNocturn SUV, with its 100-frame rate per second, overcomes these difficulties.

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UAV mounted system

The recent development of UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) provide a smart solution to replace or to come in addition to helicopters. Drones are usually less costly, with a better ecological footprint. Moreover, integration constraints increase with significant requirements in term of Size Weight and Power (SWaP). Sensor miniaturization with low power consumption is a prerequisite to be used. It’s also necessary to have an efficient transmission network such as 4G to be able to receive the images in real time. Operators needs to be trained in order to properly manage the drone guidance.


Photonis solution: Ultraviolet camera

Photonis product iNocturn is a UV intensified camera with high sensitivity, resolution and frame rate. Its small form factor and low power consumption is suitable for aerial integration especially for dronesapplications. Mastering the image intensifier and CMOS camera coupling by using Smart Tube Management, Photonis product enhance image quality in order to provide to the customer capabilities to reveal the invisible!



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