Automated Inspection of Substations at Bayernwerk

As the largest power distribution network operator in Bavaria, Bayernwerk is working on innovative solutions for enhancing supply security, occupational safety and building sustainable energy systems for tomorrow. For this reason, the company is currently using the automated inspection solution from Energy Robotics.

Substations are the “sockets“ of energy transition. They transmit electricity to various grid levels and collect the renewable energy generated from the sun, wind and water. At these critical sites, Bayernwerk intends to further improve technical safety with the help of modern robotics. To this end, the grid operator has been working with Energy Robotics for over a year and relies on an automated robotic inspection solution. The goal of the cooperation is to achieve higher supply security, sustainability and occupational safety by shortening inspection intervals, relieving employees from monotonous tasks and reducing commutes to remote sites.  

Robot on an automated inspection mission at the substation.

Preventing Downtime with Automated Inspection

With the help of Energy Robotics' software platform, the robots used are able to execute inspection rounds autonomously and collect high-quality data. The robot moves reliably through the substation - obstacles such as vegetation or slippery conditions restrict it only in extreme cases. Thanks to an automatic garage door opener feature developed by Bayernwerk and Energy Robotics, the robot is also able to navigate between indoor and outdoor areas seamlessly.

Equipped with cameras and sensors, the robot inspects selected assets of the plant. The captured data, such as images, are automatically transferred to the cloud platform developed by Energy Robotics and evaluated there with the help of powerful AI algorithms known as Skills. If the inspected values of various points of interest deviate from the predefined standard range, users at Bayernwerk are immediately informed through an alarm on the Energy Robotics software platform.

"We have substations that were mostly built between the 1950s and 1970s. At that time, topics like automation and sustainability were still in the stars. That has changed and automated robotic inspection in substations is opening a new chapter for us as an energy supplier," explains Michael Renghart, Head of Planning/Construction of Substations and Switching Stations at Bayernwerk. "We are pleased that Energy Robotics is supporting us so competently in the challenging project of automating our inspection tasks."  

Actionable Insights through AI-Driven Data Processing

The robot has been in use at Bayernwerk's substation since January 2022. In practice, its inspection routine involves following a predefined mission route, navigating reliably even in challenging conditions such as ice and snow and collecting high-quality data. The specially designed garage-door opener feature enables it to independently charge between inspection missions. While the physical navigation is remarkably fluid, the real challenge of the project lays in the AI-supported data analysis

But thanks to the close cooperation with Bayernwerk, decisive progress has been made, in particular in developing an AI solution for detecting fence defects with varying backgrounds. In addition, the AI can now analyze analog displays, for example of oil levels, and detect impending overheating in good time using thermography. The collaboration not only demonstrates the current technological progress, but also points to the enormous potential for future applications.

"By digitalizing their inspection processes with our automated inspection solution, Bayernwerk benefits from increased productivity, quality and safety. We are grateful for the trust placed in us as part of the collaboration", adds Marc Dassler, CEO of Energy Robotics.

A Leap Towards Digitalization  

Another goal of the collaboration is to foster the interaction of robots and stationary sensors. By implementing a robot-based automated inspection solution, Bayernwerk is not only taking a big step towards digitizing its substations but is also paving the way towards greater security of supply, sustainability and occupational safety by shortening inspection intervals, easing the workload on employees and reducing travel times. With Energy Robotics, the grid operator has a reliable partner at its side that, with its software solution, enables companies to digitalize and automate their inspection processes and thereby also enabling them to relieve their employees of repetitive tasks and freeing them up to take up more specialized tasks.

About Bayernwerk 

Bayernwerk Netz GmbH supplies a total of around seven million people with energy and its electricity grid covers 156,000 kilometres. In the energy grids, the company distributes 70 percent electrical energy from renewable sources. This is ensured by around 400,000 decentralized generation plants that feed green electricity into Bayernwerk's grid. Bayernwerk Netz GmbH is headquartered in Regensburg. The company is a wholly owned subsidiary of Bayernwerk AG.