Checking your pipes from the air

District heating networks are some rather expensive infrastructures and should last as long as possible. Managers of DH networks focus on how best to maintain and secure their networks. When the pipes are in the ground, the only factor one can control is nearly the operation and maintenance cost – it is tough to see the pipes again, or maybe not that hard if done from above.

In this podcast, we learn why drones are important. The sen- sors and software capture the information through thermal imaging, after which the software "calculates" the results, which is the cornerstone to success. Drones come in many siz- es and forms. The ones used when surveying in Copenhagen are nearly 140 cm in diameter and weigh about 10 kg –this is professional equipment. HOFOR was seeking new ways to survey their network and discovered that drone surveying might be the solution. And the drones deliver. Drone Systems combines all collected thermal images into a map, so the users are presented with the exact location of leaks and other problems on their grid. One benefit is the possibility of surveying pipes usually diffi- cult to access. Bo says, "Many of the pipes hidden in gardens, between tall buildings, in backyards and areas difficult to ac- cess for the car- or hand thermography you can now easily access. After the initial drone test flight, HOFOR made a few test re- pairs and found that the method was worth working with. And now, "we simply do more and more. We have divided the city into three areas, and the drones survey one area each year."

In this podcast, I take the role of an air captain and fly high (and low) to understand how the Copenhagen DH company has benefitted from monitoring its network from above. And get to understand what drone surveying of DH networks is and why many companies use this technology. So please be ready for take-off – this is your captain speaking! This time we visit Copenhagen and learn how they benefitted from drones to survey their pipes. In the interview, two specialists in surveying DH networks dis- cuss how it is done. Our case from Copenhagen is shared by Bo Jensen Møller, Head of Operation at the Copenhagen DH company HOFOR. HOFOR provides heat to nearly 100% of all buildings in Copenhagen, having several thousand km of pipes. Some are old, some are new, and all must be carefully monitored. In short, the result is that HOFOR has benefited significantly by using drones equipped with thermal payloads as a part of their pipe maintenance program. Sune Nielsen is the tech- and drone wizard, inventor, and COO (among many other things) of the Danish company Drone Systems. Drone Systems has developed the software that makes drone surveying relevant and beneficial to many DH companies eager to monitor their network with this technol- ogy and optimize their maintenance.

Listen in and learn a lot more!

Welcome to DBDHs district heating podcasts. In this series of podcasts, we invite experts from the industry to highlight important and current developments in our industry. The goal is to share knowledge, to inspire and maybe also to provoke a bit – to give insights. And I always ask the experts to share one recommendation each.

This is the DBDH district heating podcast, and your host is Morten Jordt Duedahl.

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