Powergrid drone project pre-qualifications seen to be restrictive

The pre-qualification requirements laid down by the Power Grid Corporation of India Limited (PGCIL) is extremely restrictive as it states that the bidder must have successfully completed drone patrolling using mounted camera for visual, thermovision of at least 100 route km or 300nos towers of 220kV or above Transmission Lines in last five year, as on the originally scheduled date of bid opening.

This relates to aerial patrolling (Drone Based) of Powergrid transmission lines for identification of defects and health assessment of Transmission lines.

Sources say the RFP is for the pilot phase to evaluate the efficacy for the use of Drone and Drone Derived intelligence to identify map and report defects in transmission lines. The proposed pilot phase encompasses nine regions of PGCIL.

The total value of the RFP is approximately Rs 2 crore.

Being highly restrictive at the Pilot stage itself will not allow participation of drones with capabilities. The capability of drones are best tested at the pilot stages and based on the experience of the pilot the main RFP can use restrictive clauses, sources said.

Using such a clause in the RFP for a pilot phase clearly indicates that the intention is to purchase drones from specific companies only. The pre-qualification requirements is so specific to the power sector that only a company that has worked with PGCIL before can qualify, sources said.

The deployment of Drones in India is a new phenomenon and the sector is still is in it nascent stage.

The Regulatory eco-system for Drone is still developing. The first major Regulations was issued only in mid 2021 and the amendment was issued in February, 2022.

Drones are being deployed in various sectors for the first time and very few companies can claim substantial experience in any one sector.

In order for the sector to grow and develop further, experience in one sector should be applicable to other sectors.

The Centre is actively encouraging deployment of Drones for various activities in various Ministries.

Having restrictive clauses will limit competition and increase the cost of deployment of drones unnecessarily.

In order for the Drone Industry to develop and prove its capabilities, RFPs must be inclusive and must provide an opportunity for technically capable manufacturers to participate.

The capabilities of Drones and a specific companies can be verified through various means including POCs, Pilots, Demos etc.

Restricting the participation of otherwise eligible Drone Manufacturers’ based merely on experience specific to a sector is counterproductive, sources said.




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