DJM Aerial Solutions discuss the 10 main reasons you should be considering high level drone inspection to compliment your current routines.
Drone Inspection using Unmanned Aerial Vehicles as we know are fast becoming the preferred method of visual survey across a wide range of industries. Drone inspection is the safest alternative to any manned visual survey method and blue-chip companies are beginning to realise and understand the benefits of including drone inspection within their annual maintenance and repair budgets. Essentially drone inspection is reducing heavy costs related to erecting traditional methods of access but also has a heavy impact on the risks associated with manned working at height.
Drones continue to improve processes across industry reaching into the realms of science fiction in some cases. Drone inspection methods can range from standard outputs through to 3D models with high definition mesh overlays allowing the end user to evaluate an asset from the comfort of his or her desk.
Drone manufacturers and developers breach the norm on a day to day basis with continuous funding pots available to develop services they can offer such as drone inspection, aerial survey, autonomous flight paths, remote sensing, search and rescue and many other highly charged areas that were once difficult or risky to approach using the traditional methods.
We are now certain that drones are here to stay and will provide a positive outcome to all industries that they serve be it drone inspection, Geospatial analysis or medical supply delivery. As a drone service company, we are excited to be involved in this high growth industry and look forward to what is around the corner.
Drone inspection can offer a multitude of assistance to those that adopt the technology, providing numerous remedies to what were once pain points within the inspection and survey market and this blog post aims to alleviate any concerns surrounding the use of drones for inspection purposes.
Workplace Fatalities 2017-2018
The HSE announce an annual statement regarding the morbid but very real subject of work-related fatalities and the figures are unfortunately very disturbing considering we are now into the 21st century.
This last year on average 25% of workplace-related fatalities are due to falls from height, decreasing from previous years, but still too high, injuries no doubt are a lot higher although not recorded as such. However, the figures regarding injuries due to falls from height are no doubt flawed as the injured party is unlikely to risk there own employment and or “ego” by stating they fell from height due to not using the correct basic PPE.
Working at height is sometimes a necessary requirement usually when remedial work is required. But to understand that there may well be an underlying fault or damage to a particular area requires first visual inspection of that particular area. With further visits to assume required tools and equipment. Then the repair work would possibly take place after the 2nd or 3rd visit at height.
The first mitigation towards any situation where working at height is concerned should be, “can the same results be achieved without the inherent risk to personnel”, consideration is given especially when visual inspection is the task in hand.
UAV inspection prior to any remedial work could easily reduce these morbid fatality figures and the reduction in injury to personnel due to falls from height could also be significantly reduced resulting in financial gain for any of the companies concerned.
The reduction in sick leave and probable payouts to employees families combined with the burden of losing an employee due to a fall from height, should be at the forefront of any CEO mind. Drone Inspections are by far the easiest and smartest way to reduce these figures.
Another enormous incentive to utilising UAV Inspection services to complement current and traditional inspection methods or even to completely replace it would be the enormous reduction in costs. We live in times of austerity and being able to better assign budgets accordingly would have a positive impact on all industry allowing a financially stronger company.
Drone inspection doesn’t need to wait for site shutdown, asset shutdown, outage periods or complete plant outage prior to carrying out the task in hand. Drone Inspections have no requirement to touch, climb, or put anybody in danger so the particular asset can remain live whilst the drone inspections are talking place.
A live asset inspection in some cases can be more beneficial than an asset inspection on a piece or section of plant that is isolated for instance allowing the operator or drone pilot to better understand any defective issues of that particular plant.
For instance, a thermal survey generally requires that particular asset to assume normal operating conditions to allow for any abnormal heat signatures to be detected. An offline asset would not allow for that data to be captured.
The cost differential is also beneficial to the company as they no longer need to hire a team of 3 rope access technicians, or erect a scaffold surrounding the offline asset, or possibly a crane and its crew to remove certain areas of that particular plant, or a MEWP or access platform or a team of men working from a work basket.
All of the above costs are completely eradicated with any UAV inspections the combination of this cost efficiency and the reduction in safety concerns should be enough alone to encourage any company to adopt the technology.
Time efficiency is one of the more obvious benefits to any drone inspections in any environment. Which goes hand in hand with the two upper entries. Adopting drone technology to carry out any of your visual or thermal aerial inspection work clearly has time saving benefits and can occasionally save weeks if not months of planning. Weeks of shutdowns and days if not weeks of the actual inspection phase.
Our teams can arrive on site be inducted, process any risk assessment and RAMS documentation, set up inclusive of pre-flight checks and have the drone in the air within an hour of arrival.
The time-saving element is obvious, for instance not only with standard drone inspections can the time-saving element be adopted but also with remote sensing and geospatial surveys. For instance, we were asked recently to cover an area of around 53 hectares. Which had previously been quoted 10 days via traditional methods of land survey. We were able to cover this in 1 day and produce the deliverables in 2 further days after. An enormous saving in terms of time and costs.
Another enormous benefit towards the use of drone inspections in industry is down to the hindered mobility of manned inspection techniques. Drone inspections can be beneficial in many ways but the improvement in being able to place a drone anywhere goes above and beyond any other method of inspection.
An example would be a flare tip inspection in situ, there are several methods of inspection towards this particular piece of plant the obvious would be rope access personnel deployment. However, it is generally impossible to get an idea of the upper portions of the tulip or shroud due to the area being well above head height and no anchor points to utilise.
Another option would be to remove the head completely using a crane and inspect it remotely whilst on the ground. Clearly an expensive task with prolonged outage periods and lease of heavy equipment and third-party project teams.
This is just one example any drone inspections adopted in industry, evidently, they can clearly eradicate any of the above problems. Drone inspection and use of drone technology can access the most arduous areas both internally and externally providing high-quality data of that particular asset on an infinite level of mobility.
Briefly touched on this in both cost efficiency and time efficiency entries, however, due to its prolificity, it requires its own heading. Drone inspections are key to reducing outage periods on site which can run up to 100’s of thousands in lost or unplanned revenue. Use of drone technology when planning for corrective repair work can be hugely beneficial in determining the time required for an outage of a particular asset.
Planned preventative maintenance routines require frequent visual inspection at several intervals throughout the year. When considering asset integrity inspections at height the requirement for shutdown of any particular asset to allow for manned access without risk is generally not negotiable dependent on the particular piece of plant.
UAV inspection can bring much required financial relief when taking these visual inspections into consideration. Allowing the asset to remain in operation, without the need for scaffold or access requirements UAV inspection is a method that can overcome obstacles giving the project manager and team the detail to be able to make on the spot decisions around the condition of the asset and whether or not it requires instant remedial repair or providing the information as to how long it can stay in service before planning for a shutdown.
Quality Data Acquisition
Data acquisition can clearly help to identify areas of concern or potential premature failures but to capture this requires close proximity visual identification by a competent person generally stemming from an engineering or technical background. UAV Inspection can play its part in this particular area of concern.
For instance, not all rope access personnel are technically trained in the areas requiring inspection and may well miss areas of concern or potential hazards that may need remedial work or further investigation. This may warrant a decision to erect a scaffold around the particular area, allowing a qualified and suitable person with an engineering background to get their own visual perspective of that area. Enabling decision making.
Not all drone service companies have that technical background either, WE DO! which is something we do pride ourselves on, however, there are a lot of drone service providers that do not. Regardless the drone footage of that particular asset can be streamed live to the qualified person or decision maker allowing them to plan and make on the spot decisions. Without the need for proximity.
Again UAV Inspection is particularly helpful in this instance capturing the required data be it 4kK and High-Resolution imagery or Detailed thermography, 3D outputs or LiDar survey results. UAV inspection has the ability to provide numerous levels of the highest quality data and broadcast it back to relevant personnel LIVE!
Still in its infancy, although UAV inspection can and is utilised for first responders to assess dangers in any situation. Emergency services across the world are beginning to benefit from the obvious positives of drone technology. The fire service can deploy drones using thermal cameras to assess hotspots across a burning building or to search internally for missing persons in a collapsed property.
UAV Inspection can be used to determine areas of danger in a highly charged and stressful environment such as an RTC or a high rise building fire such as the not so long back Grenfell Tower disaster! UAV inspection and deployment can provide instant feedback to first responders, allowing them to make informed decisions on the ground in an instant, opposed to risking the lives of their colleagues by entering into the unknown.
Drone inspections, as we can see, from this combination of drone inspection entries is on its way to becoming the most disruptive technologically advanced industry our generation has witnessed and we look forward to seeing new developments.
UAV Inspections are tantamount to the capture of high-quality data during visual inspection and irrespective as to whether the data is relative RGB or Quantitative thermography it is prolonged and can be kept on file as actual data opposed to documented written spreadsheets.
Allowing the end user to compare the results from each assessment or UAV Inspection month by month. Providing the necessary information to make invaluable decisions based on the condition of that particular asset or part from when it was new through to end of life.
Trend analysis is particularly important in planned preventative maintenance where the strength of trend analysis comes into play, providing the information based on what has been uploaded into the system in years previous.
The bathtub curve is a trend line that starts high on the chart with minimal issues during the run in period, high performance and low spend and drops as the performance decreases, breakdowns occur and spend increases, which remains fairly consistent for a period of time, until it begins to break down frequently and requires more maintenance than it is worth resulting in the trend line ramping up rapidly, becoming cost-effective to eventually replace the component part opposed to continue repairing it. Evidence of this trend line will be documented but could be further analysed with visual inspections, Either ground-based or UAV inspection if the particular component part is at height.
Improvement to maintenance standards can be achieved through various techniques associated with planned preventative maintenance and widely enhanced with UAV Inspections. Manned inspection routines are only effective when all conditions are preferable and the asset itself is in a dormant state or isolated allowing the manned inspection to take place unhindered.
90% of the time this is not the case and the inspection procedure is not fully completed to the highest standard due to time given per project being cut short due to operational requirements, UAV Inspections can be carried out whilst the equipment is still live and operational. Providing a comprehensive and detailed analysis of the equipment whilst it continues its operation. The data can either be fed back live to the project team or collated to a memory device and uploaded at a later date to be analysed at given times.
UAV inspections are the future of maintenance improvements and eventually will be normality for the majority of larger blue chip operators. The early adopters of drone inspections will eventually be the pioneers within an industry that is about to explode, providing the manufacturers with concepts and ideas to improve day to day operations on site.
The adoption of drone inspections across industry will almost certainly be the foundation for further development within the UAV inspections remit. As engineers and technical personnel become more involved in the day to day and standardised drone inspection routines on site. Further developments will no doubt be expected of that particular drone inspection provider.
If the particular request can’t be achieved due to equipment limitations and or processes then the particular UAV inspections company will no doubt develop a solution based on that request further developing the drone survey industry.
UAV inspections are a very new and remains a very fresh emerging industry and early adopters are going to see the greatest benefits. We at DJM Aerial Solutions, as not only a drone inspection company but also engineering professionals fully understand this. The drive to take this technology to the next step is like nothing else with a steady continuation of new developments month after month, unlike any other industry we’ve seen.
DJM Aerial Solutions are primarily engineering professionals with over 20 years experience in a heavy engineering environment across multiple industries, we pride ourselves on being one of the only drone inspection companies in the UK with this level of engineering knowledge.
We know how your assets operate and what they should and shouldn’t look like, enabling us to provide a bespoke condition survey, post drone inspection.
If you have any interest in any of the services we are able to offer please don’t hesitate to call us on +44 (0) 1642 903779.