The HIVE UAS Tech Accelerator in Grand Forks, ND

By Thread | October 18, 2023

Thread, the leader of enterprise-scale autonomous data collection for delivering precise inspection insights, announced that it closed a Series A funding round in the amount of $15M. The round was led by Badlands Capital with notable participation from an early utility partner of Thread’s, Minnkota Power CooperativeGenerational PartnersRosecliff VenturesExcell PartnersHomegrown Capital and Kevin O’Leary’s Wonder Fund North Dakota. This new round of funding accelerates Thread’s horizontal expansion across asset types and enables the company to continue developing its UNITI platform, which is positioned to become the first practical turnkey Asset Performance Management (APM) platform for the energy and utilities industry.

Since its inception, Thread has proven its ability to automate data capture of utility assets via robotic inspection across wind, oil and gas, and now linear (transmission and distribution) at scale. The company works across the fleets of several Fortune 500 customers including Xcel Energy and with major asset protection companies such as MISTRAS Group.

“We recognize the challenges our customers face in today’s dynamic utility sector,” said Josh Riedy, Founder and CEO of Thread. “The aging of the world’s critical infrastructure, disconnected workflow integrations between traditional software and shiny object vendors, and a depleting skilled workforce in Operations & Maintenance (O&M) continue to be major issues in data collection, which makes it increasingly difficult for stakeholders to make data-driven decisions. This Series A funding allows us to better service our customer’s needs by bridging the gap between legacy one-off inspections and real-time asset performance data, bringing the industry into the digital age. We are enabling our customers to cut inspection workstreams from days into hours, using UNITI as a single point for collaborative decision-making and O&M spend prioritization.”

The $1T Bipartisan Infrastructure Law for new energy infrastructure has elevated industry demands for a more robust way to monitor the health of its most critical assets. “UNITI by Thread is cementing its position as the industry-standard,” said Blaine Crissman, General Partner at Badlands Capital. “Thread empowers its customers to make more data-driven decisions around inspection and maintenance through digital representation and autonomous upkeep of their assets.”

“For nearly a decade, utility operators have been disappointed by unkept promises of low-cost, on-demand drone inspections,” said Asher Kraut, Partner at Generational Partners. “Thread has not only fully automated the inspection process, but they’ve also built a turnkey platform that empowers its customers to make Operations and Maintenance decisions based on real-time data across their entire fleet of assets. Thread is a prime example of an emerging business that is leveraging well-understood technologies once considered ‘deep tech’ to solve today’s most crucial customer challenges. What’s more, they’re achieving this in a safety-critical industrial environment that will define the next generation of founders and investors.”

Thread also announced the expansion of its relationship with Xcel Energy, one of its earliest customers and co-development collaborators. This work will advance the development of Thread’s flagship product, UNITI, to ensure its viability for deployment at scale across all asset types in the utility industry globally. This relationship, which is the first-of-its-kind for Xcel Energy, puts both organizations at the forefront of transforming the way energy and utility operators utilize automation, robotics, and business intelligence to drive asset performance.

As presented at a recent Utilities Imagery and Inspection Consortium Conference of top Utility leaders, the value of transforming Utility asset health was of prime concern. 

“When Xcel Energy began automated wind inspections in-house, we changed the dynamic of how we work on a day-to-day basis, as well as how we manage our data and assets,” said Thomas Stegge UAS Program Manager, Xcel Energy. “What we have learned from this transition is flowing into changing asset management strategies across the entire company.”

Article source: BBI International