Before getting into the Hows and Whys of this scenario, let’s talk facts and figures. PwC estimates that the total market value of drone-powered enterprise solutions to communication service providers is nearly $20bn. This number is on the rise because drones in the telecom sector make operations Safer, Efficient, and way more Cost-effective when compared to traditional practices. Owing to these benefits that drones offer, the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) itself has a subcommittee called the TIA Drones Ad Hoc. The association testifies that they have continued to witness massive adoption of UAS projects in the Telecommunications Sector.
Let’s begin with traditional telecom tower inspections. Using Boom Trucks, or climbing to the top of towers located on difficult terrains, potentially disrupts tower performance and puts human safety at risk. Apart from that, to keep track of the installed equipment on the tower, the inspectors typically manually count the installed assets. And, even after the demanding physical labour and hazards, they have to contend with reduced visibility from traditional inspection methods. But this dilemma only had little life until drones came into the picture.
In the telecommunications sector, comprehensive real-time monitoring is the need of the hour, and right now, the only way to attain this is by switching to drones.
Drones enable tower-specific flight automation, providing us with reliable data points. Furthermore, 3D virtual reconstructions or Digital Twins can be leveraged from the obtained datasets to deliver end-to-end visibility across tower infrastructures in the comfort of your office. This will help us to establish precise inventories of station equipment, measure their antenna tilts, identify rust, plan tower maintenance remotely and so on.
With proper flight planning, automated mode of data capturing, and smart data processing systems, drones can completely automate Telecom Inspections. Unlike the time-consuming, inefficient, and dangerous traditional inspections, drones just fly around the telecom towers and capture high-resolution images and 4k videos in just minutes. Based on the client’s requirements, the captured data is then sent over to the carrier network automatically or after post-processing.
Predictive Maintenance is another significant advantage that drone-based telecom tower inspection offers. We can’t assess the competency of the assets with traditional methods; by the time the traditional inspection is done, even a minor issue might have developed into a severe issue. But with drones, we have the added advantage of taking precautionary actions. For instance, thermal sensors like the DJI Zenmuse H20T can be effectively incorporated with drones to detect any energy loss and potential performance issues with cell towers.
PIX4Dscan is a drone flight app created for conducting visual inspections developed by photogrammetry experts. There are two versions of the same – Inspection and Inspection-Telecom. As the name suggests, the ‘Inspection Telecom’ version has built-in flight plans that include manual and automatic flight mission plans designed specifically for inspecting cell towers. The PIX4Dscan is reportedly cutting down field-time and operational costs by 75%, boosting profitability and keeping the inspection crews safe. Moreover, PiX4Dcan is compatible with tablets and mobile devices with iOS and Android operating systems.
We have an interesting example from Japan. Rakuten Mobile Network has been using drone operations to inspect its base station sites since it rolled out the world’s first virtualized mobile network. Adopting drones helped the company significantly cut down inspection prices and time, and they could afford to offer a mobile plan at less than half the competitors’ price.
“Drone Cell Tower inspection” is indeed the way to go, but confused by the plenty of drones available on the market? Wondering which drone is the best for Telecom tower inspection? Drone service provider FEDS drone-Powered Services use a fleet of DJI M300 RTKs for their telecom tower inspections; let’s explore why the M300 is a top contender for this application.
You’ll find a lot of articles on the internet praising the performance of DJI M300 RTK. Of course, we too; we have content in different forms – articles, videos swearing by it; and for a good reason.
A drone-powered telecom tower inspection is not every drone’s cup of tea. We can’t just grab a consumer drone without interference protection for Telecom Tower inspections. The drone used in the mission has to be resistant to electromagnetic interference (EMI); likewise, multiple robust sensors are required to provide a comprehensive report of the Telecom Tower. For instance, Telecom Towers emit Radio waves, and they interfere with a drone’s internal systems, posing the risk of losing control of the drone. This is when the DJI M300 RTK comes into the picture.
OcuSync for Tower Interferences
The DJI Matrice 300 RTK incorporates the DJI OcuSync. This transmission system scans for nearby interferences and then makes decisions accordingly and automatically switches between 2.4GHz and 5.8 GHz in real-time to mitigate the interference. This is unarguably a very robust system, especially for mission areas where you can expect electromagnetic interference like Telecom Tower Inspections.
Durability and Resilience
The DJI M300 RTK is IP45 rated and is resistant to moisture, wind, and extreme temperatures, making the mission possible even in unpredictable weather.
For instance, let’s consider the United Arab Emirates. The average wind speed in the windiest time of the year – is more than 9.2 m/s. That being said, turbulence and wind speed up to 11.97 m/s won’t affect the DJI M300 RTK. And most importantly, there will be more than enough time for you to complete your mission before you need to recharge the Matrice 300, which has a maximum flight time of 55 minutes.
To have a comprehensive report of the tower you are inspecting, you need to incorporate multiple powerful sensors. For example:
And the best part is that the DJI M300 RTK is compatible with these payloads and can accommodate multiple payloads – it can carry up to three payloads simultaneously, with a total take-off weight of 9 kg.
Regarding drone telecom inspections, the DJI M300 RTK clearly outshines others in the market. So now the question is – Does it resonate with your business goals? Also, would you like to know more about powerful payloads that cater to your requirements? Feel free to get in touch with us. Or, we can arrange a demo for you on how our drones or payloads can improve your operations.
Join us for an engaging webinar and live Q&A that dives deep into the common discussion points around the fixed-wing drones vs. VTOLs debate.
Tuesday, November 9 at 11:30 Dubai Time
Our panel of internal and external experts will share facts on take off and landing, flight performance, coverage, cameras, mission operations and regulations for both platforms.