Challenge

Our client wanted to undertake a thermal UAV survey to complete a non-intrusive survey of the PV systems across multiple IKEA stores and distribution centres to identify defects and faults at cell level. The information had previously been obtained via a surveyor actively walking the roof areas using a hand held thermal unit. This method meant that the survey took considerably longer, came with a higher risk of injury as a result of working at height, and due to accessibility, not all PV panels were able to be inspected leaving incomplete data.

Solution

A survey which would include data capture through our UAV team was the obvious answer. The survey methodology was to capture both optical and thermal imagery of each and every PV panel which would then be inspected and interrogated by our thermal specialist and building surveyors, the findings of which would then be detailed within the comprehensive final report which was competed for each individual site.
Due to the risk of missing panels and misunderstanding data post survey, the team spent considerable time before arriving on each site working alongside the client and taking information from the systems O&M manuals to ensure each survey was planned and each panel accounted for across he multiple sites. Due to their no longer being the requirement for personal to walk the full length and breadth of the roof, single operation points were used to launch the UAV and carry out the survey reducing time and improving safety.

Results

On completion of the project, our surveying team had compiled individual reports for each site. The report included photographic and thermal evidence of defects at a cell by cell level, with comments and recommendations on suggested next steps.
As a project, in comparison to other methods, the survey time on site was reduced dramatically. This had a direct link when comparing costs associated and as a result a notable cost saving was achieved. Furthermore, the reports included data and analysis of every single panel across the selected sites ensuring no missed banks due to access issues at all.

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