New Handheld Tool for Remote, Accurate Asset Data Measurement for Utility Field Crews
Utility field crews are sometimes challenged by the need to take accurate measurements and the location of utility poles, smart meters, and other assets from a remote location where it might otherwise be dangerous or impossible to access. With the help of technology from ikeGPS, GE Digital Energy has released GE MapSight, a handheld device that will photograph, measure and add location to information captured in the field. The unit integrates laser, camera and GPS technologies (refer to photo at right).
The device, branded as GE MapSight, will enable a more effective means of capturing asset information in the field and the ability to document that asset with a georeferenced photograph. MapSight works by simply pointing the handheld at the asset. The user photographs the asset and can then sketch a boundary or take a linear measurement directly on the photo. Since the photograph is georeferenced a redline or boundary drawn on the photograph captures accurate measurements to approximately 1.5 meters.
According to Glenn Milnes, managing director of ikeGPS, the predominate field process today is manual. A "hot stick", an insulated pole to protect lineman from electric shock, is used to manually measure assets. The new GE MapSight solution can take a single photograph and capture all the information sometimes doubling the time savings or more, according to Milnes. It provides obvious safety benefits and the ability to verify digital data in the field. The attraction is that it can become an end-toe-end solution for field crews.
Other use cases can vary and customers range from utility workers to forest managers with varying and sometimes quite specific workflows for remote asset management. Utility customers might find that they can cover 50 miles of pole inspection versus just a few miles today. The advantage with this type of instrument is that the field crews will find use cases throughout the asset lifecycle from the new construction phase to asset maintenance, inspection and management. Another potential use case is to satisfy regulatory requirements like documenting smart meters. But the bottom line is that for field crews that need to measure things from a remote location, say 10 to 100 feet away, the tool seems like an ideal solution when weather conditions or safety concerns make it impossible to get the job done.