A lot of companies start drone programs by experimenting to find what works and what doesn’t. But if you’re working with critical infrastructure, the “trial and error” approach is likely not the best for managing risk. It can make launching a drone program a daunting task.
From the Skyward blog by Bill Stafford.
That’s why Skyward offers a Program Start Package. We’ve designed this package to equip companies with the policies, equipment, software, and training they need to launch a drone program and achieve value quickly. Our aim is to help you avoid common pitfalls and find practical use cases as soon as possible.
Moss & Associates, a national construction management company, purchased Skyward’s Program Start Package in 2019. Today, Moss is scaling and expanding drone use across the entire enterprise.
More recently, we had the chance to help a company in the energy and utilities industry launch an enterprise-grade drone program: Great River Energy.
Great River Energy is a not-for-profit wholesale electric power cooperative which provides electricity to 28 member-owner distribution cooperatives. Together, their systems serve 700,000 families, farms, and businesses in Minnesota. The cooperative operates more than 4,820 miles of transmission lines.
In 2015, a few employees began a grassroots effort to look into what aerial robotic technology could do to help the company. This experimentation led Great River Energy to begin establishing a more formal drone program in 2017.
Great River Energy knew they wanted to scale up their drone program to be a useful asset across the company. Finding uses for the drone technology wasn’t hard, but developing the program to enable more employees to use the technology while focusing on mitigating risk required a bit more effort.
Early Success with Great River Energy’s Drone Program
The early program had two main focuses: safety and savings. We had the chance to speak with Kyle Gustofson, UAS Program Manager at Great River Energy. He explained how the team pitched the value of drones to leadership.
“Oftentimes with a new tool or technology, there’s the triple constraint: you can either do it better, you can do it faster, or you can do it cheaper — and you can only pick two,” said Kyle. “In this case, drones are a tool that can capture better data, do it cheaper, and do it safer. It’s a rare triple-win technology.”
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