Inuktun Sighting #20: Lights Out, Inuktun On

VT150 Inline Hydro Transmission Line Inspection

When we think of hydro companies, we think of our equipment being used in tunnels, penstocks and pipes crossing rivers. But it turns out there is another big inspection need: high voltage transmission conduits. Because these conduits are heavily lubricated in order to pull cable through, gaining enough traction for a remotely operated vehicle to inspect up to the 1.2 kilometre lengths proves challenging.

Last week, Inuktun’s Versatrax 150™ inline system was spotted in the wilds of New Westminster, British Columbia, exploring underground conduits of a recently damaged transmission line operated by BC Hydro. More than 18,000 kilometres of transmission lines make up the transmission system that distributes electricity from generating stations to distribution substations. The high voltage transmission system has lines ranging from 60kV to 500kV, and although planned and operated so that it can withstand an outage of any single transmission line without loss of electrical load, we have all experienced the exceptions to this rule.

VT150 inline inspects six inch conduits

BC Hydro contacted Inuktun on November 3rd to explore options for assessing the areas affected by damaged PVC conduits and learn where their crews needed to dig. No later than November 5th was the Inuktun corporate van onsite with the Versatrax 150™ crawler and pan-tilt-zoom Spectrum 90™ camera to evaluate the conduits impaired as a result of the heat generated from the conductors arching over. The inline vehicle was deployed into the six inch conduits, and no further damage was observed outside the affected area. The conditions proved to be more challenging than originally understood. In addition to water droplets along the entire length of the runs and some standing water, residual cable lubricant was observed which had a negative impact on traction. While the crawler was able to inspect the majority of the suspect conduits, it was only able to achieve a downrange distance of 120 metres. Fortunately, BC Hydro was impressed enough with our equipment that they have asked Inuktun to propose a solution for a full length inspection.

For more information on how Inuktun can improve the efficiency of your operations in the hydro-electric industry, contact our expert team today.