Case Study: Orion NZ DJI Dock Drone Trial at Electricity Substation

Orion NZ Ltd has been using drones for a few years now to help find faults on their network. Ferntech recently collaborated with their team to deliver an "outside the box" solution – New Zealand's first DJI Dock – to monitor their new Grid Exit Point at Norwood. Working with our team of drone specialists, Orion NZ successfully mapped, refined, and conducted rigorous testing over the last couple of months before going fully operational with this innovative technology.

The DJI Dock's automated drone is housed inside a protective base station. The base station opens, and the drone launches to carry out an inspection of the site, by following a pre-programmed flight path. The drone sends the information gathered to a secure site that can be easily viewed in real-time. Once completed it returns home to the base station, which then closes to protect and charge the drone until it’s ready to fly again.


Check out this video now to find out how this NZ industry-first is improving safety, increasing resilience and reliability and helping reduce emissions:


Video Transcript:

Nigel Barbour, Orion Group Chief Executive: We’re here today with my colleagues from Orion, Kinetics, and Ferntech trialling drone technology to do automated, and eventually pilotless inspections of this site. It’s all part of the innovation Orion’s showing as we look ahead to an electrified Aotearoa, and also one where we need to lean into the challenge of resilience.

Peter Allen, Network Access Manager: They use a smart technology, so when it flies we actually tell it to fly to a known location, a waypoint. And those could be multiple, so we can navigate our way around objects so we don’t put the drone or our network at risk. We can live stream that back to our control room and that’ll allow us to actually see a status in real time, which will save us a huge amount of time later.

Nigel Barbour: Technology like this will really help us do what is core to Orion, which is safe, resilient, reliable networks. Enabling us to find faults, really difficult to find faults earlier and fix them before they cause outages, and send the operator to the location as opposed to them having to find the location. So, all round it’s a great win-win.

Luke Johnson, Ferntech Commercial Manager: Traditionally you would need someone to go out to site to have an actual visual check. Now, having the drone being able to be remotely operated, someone can be sitting in the office and confirm whether the switch is physically open or closed. 

Nigel Barbour: So technology like this, which enables us to be at the leading edge in terms of fault finding, preventing faults, restoring faults, is absolutely where we need to be.

This DJI Dock trial signals a major shift in the adoption of drone technology in New Zealand, and is just the beginning for autonomous aerial missions. If you’d like more information or a quote on the DJI Dock, please get in touch with our Commercial Solutions team via the form below.



Contact our team today to discuss the right solution for you.