Scanifly: solar design software using drone technology and 3D modeling tools


1) Sustainability problem: Energy

The solar industry has grown significantly over the last 10 years; however, manual, inefficient distributed generation installations for both residential and commercial projects are still used. There is currently a significant disconnect between the manual solar surveying process, and the needed results. Many solar installers rely on outdated satellite imagery, and manually sketch project mockups from scratch, and costly project site visits are made before construction to verify data for their layouts. This is time-consuming, often inaccurate and accessing roofs presents safety concerns that limit productivity. Software and new technologies provided by companies such as Scanifly, aims to improve efficiency and reliability of solar project surveys and installations. 

2) Technology Summary:  

Article reference:

  • Scanifly is a solar software platform that incorporates drones and 3D modelling technology to improve the way solar contractors survey, design and install residential and commercial projects; A drone with a LiDAR sensor mounted to it captures reality using an array of lasers to acquire coordinates which create a point cloud. The point cloud is then used to create a 3D model.
  • Scanifly’s software automates and centralizes the manual day-to-day tasks in the solar workflow, so one can sell, survey, design and install projects with greater system accuracy, reducing onsite survey and design time by up to 90%
  • The software also enhances worker safety while lowering soft costs of solar installations throughout the process.
  • The software can be used across any project: rooftop, ground mounts, canopies, or carports, and for residential, commercial, and small utility scale projects. Unique features include: 1) ability to conduct real time shading analysis of the site without going on the roof, 2) Designers don’t have to guess tree or obstruction sizes, or any of the dimensions on the site. 
  • The technology also aims to accelerate solar developers’ sales conversions because customers can better visualize the project in a virtual replica of their properties.

3) Organizational stakeholders 

  • Designers 
  • Surveyors 
  • Customers 
  • Construction workers 
  • Health and Safety Officers 
  • Investors 

4) 3 steps in deploying this technology

  • Stakeholder engagement: Educate all relevant stakeholders regarding integration and use of the new technology to maximize benefits and reveal any possible drawbacks. Understand viewpoints of stakeholders through frequent discussion 
  • Development and risk assessment: Evaluate prime customer targets, craft detailed use cases for the marketing of the platform. Detailed successful use scenarios will help to sell the technology. Conduct a risk assessment on potential pitfalls of the technology i.e. issues around data transparency and ethical issues surrounding automating jobs that are currently done manually. 
  • Monitoring performance. Consider issues around future stages of software development and ongoing lifecycle by setting a schedule and pattern to monitor progress. Operations and maintenance of the technology requires dedicated personnel to measure success, that are informed of stakeholder preferences to maximize future developments of the technology.



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