Launched by UNK graduate, company helps power utilities prevent outages, wildfires

KEARNEY – A Kearney-based company is developing technology that can help power utilities prevent component failures that cause outages and wildfires.

Snappy Workflow helps electric utilities automate thermal and visual inspections of power lines using proprietary data-collection software leveraging artificial intelligence and computer vision. Inspectors install a roof-mounted thermal camera on a vehicle to speed the inspection process by 10 times. This also allows utilities to obtain Federal Emergency Management Agency funding faster when disaster strikes.

Strong early customer demand from Nebraska power utilities helped Snappy Workflow close $1.02 million in investments from Invest Nebraska, Nelnet, Nebraska Angels, the Husker Venture Fund and other private individuals. Funding will allow the company to accelerate field testing of the technology this summer before commercializing it in early 2023.

Dusty Birge
Dusty Birge

“This funding milestone has enabled us to manage supply chain challenges while still building an effective business model,” said Dusty Birge, CEO and co-founder of Snappy Workflow. “Nebraska has great resources for entrepreneurs and innovation – we are proof. I hope our success motivates others to utilize the local resources and pursue their ideas as we have.”

Birge graduated from the University of Nebraska at Kearney in 2011 with a bachelor’s degree in industrial distribution. He initially conceived the idea for Snappy Workflow in the NMotion Venture Studio using the program’s $100,000 investment and secured a $45,000 prototype grant from the Nebraska Department of Economic Development to continue early development. Thanks to early customer commitments, local investor enthusiasm surpassed the company’s initial fundraising goal.

Midwest Electric and Dawson Public Power District are among five Nebraska utilities helping test this technology.

We continue to look for ways to be more efficient and more effective in providing safe and reliable power to our members,” said Jayson Bishop, general manager for Midwest Electric. “We feel this technology will provide us with better information than we’ve had access to previously and will allow us to prevent outages before they happen.”

Cole Brodine, manager of engineering and technology for Dawson Public Power District, said: “Dawson Power is excited to help participate in furthering the technology around automated infrastructure inspection. To keep costs low in the current economic environment, we are all being asked to do more with less, and this kind of technology will allow us to keep customer reliability high while keeping costs low.”

Snappy Workflow is committed to growing in Kearney and creating more high-paying, high-tech jobs in central Nebraska. The team is now focused on delivering on its promises to early customers and preparing to roll out the full commercialized product on schedule.

“Reliability of the nation’s electric grid has never been a higher priority in the history of our nation. Snappy’s asset inspection technology combined with the speed and ease of use will enable any provider the ability to operate a well-maintained, documented and highly reliable system,” said Curtis Kayton, co-founder and president of Snappy Workflow.