Hepta Airborne: Changing Power Line Inspections with AI

Henri Klemmer Hepta Airborne2

Henri Klemmer tells us how Hepta Airborne provides end-to-end inspection and analysis tools to automate your asset management.

First of all, how are you and your family doing?

Henri Klemmer: Life is good in Estonia, with summer just behind the corner and temperatures constantly rising. Living up in the north might mean cold winters, but it also comes with a bonus – our summer days are pretty long, with up to 20 hours of sunlight. I am looking forward to enjoying the summer as much as possible!

Tell us about you, your career, and how you founded Hepta Airborne.

Henri Klemmer: Fourteen years ago, I used to work as an electrical engineer and saw firsthand how challenging power line inspections could be. The inspectors had to cross wetlands, marshes, and thick forests and work in blistering heat and freezing cold, all the while risking their lives just to make sure the lines were in working order. I even had colleagues who had to run from bears while conducting inspections. A few years later, I was running manned helicopter inspection projects for high voltage grids. The value proposition was complex and expensive. This all led me to look for easier and more efficient methods, which turned out to be AI-driven power line analysis of data captured by satellites and drones. As there weren’t many viable options around, I decided to see if I could develop the needed solutions myself. This led me to create Hepta Airborne and start developing our power line inspection platform, uBird.

How does Hepta Airborne market its product/services online?

Henri Klemmer: We use a mix of different campaigns, SEO, SM management, and content creation activities. Our market segment puts us in an advantageous position where we know most of our leads by name; thus, we can target them quite efficiently. 

How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how did you get through it?

Henri Klemmer: While the coronavirus initially created some confusion, we adjusted quickly and managed to take good care of our clients and employees. One of our strengths is that our power line inspection solution is easily scalable while reducing the overall needed manhours. Our clients use drones to collect power line data and analyze it in our AI-driven inspection platform uBird, enabling them to have faster inspections, greater defect detection rate, and significant cost savings. Thus we helped our clients succeed with their operations, even when using smaller, socially distanced teams and more remote work. For example – we had one small team conduct 1000km of power line inspections in Portugal, using LiDAR, infrared, and RBG imaging in less than 30 days. That kind of tempo is remarkable and shows what can be achieved even when limiting the team sizes.

What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to manage your online marketing?

Henri Klemmer: I would say that we are most dependent on HubSpot and all of its reporting features. As we always have different campaigns running, we need to have a clear overview of their performance and effect.

Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?

Henri Klemmer: There are many companies currently exploring the drone inspection market, but most of them are focusing on data collection or analytics separately and don’t offer a turnkey solution to the customer. Today, Hepta Airborne already provides an easily deployable end-to-end inspection solution for large networks that are used to inspect more than 3000 KM of power lines every month. Our AI models have shown their effects on the speed and quality of analysis work; thus, we will continue developing them to continue giving our clients the tools to succeed.

Your final thoughts?

Henri Klemmer: I think the last couple of years have shown quite resolutely that power lines and energy resilience, in general, are the foundational cornerstone of Europe’s and EU’s national safety. I hope that we will see a renewed focus in this field, allowing us to keep up with the growing demands of electrification.

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