Drones, UAV, RPAS, SUAS, ROAV or UAS whatever the terminology, the end result and how it could benefit your organisation.
The difficulty we find during our day to day marketing is based on the lack of education around what can be achieved by introducing drone technology into your company. There are currently dozens of services which can be provided using drones and the technology is growing on a daily basis. DJM Aerial Solutions are proud to be able to offer most of these services and are excited to grow and be involved with this exciting disruptive innovation.
Building, Roof, Structural, and Infrastructure Survey
We as a company are currently heavily involved in infrastructure survey including Bridge Inspection, Roof Asset and Integrity Survey, Building and Structural Condition Surveys and Building Envelope Thermography Condition Surveys. Although these services are fairly common knowledge and growing in popularity, the benefits around this area is not so common. Apart from the cost effectiveness and Ground cover that can be achieved there are obviously huge benefits towards safety concerns in comparison to traditional methods of inspection.
For instance, in the past, a scaffold would be the preferred option whilst carrying out a thorough inspection of roof asset, building envelope survey or structural condition inspection. Generally an expensive option and sometimes the only feasible solution due to health and safety regulations. UAV technology use around these infrastructure inspections is predominantly 85% more efficient in terms of cost, time saved and safety. Drone use can provide a more targetted method of repair and maintenance, pinpointing the areas that require attention allowing the use of access platforms or a single section of scaffold opposed to full.
What Other Uses Do Drones Have?
We have covered the popular and more common side of drone technology and will move onto each service including the not so common services and the relatively new trends in the UAV technology world.
The thing which really makes DJM Aerial Solutions tick is the industry we cut our teeth in. Industrial assets have and always will require regular inspection and maintenance procedures to prolonge it’s operational term, prevent downtime due to failed components and build trend analysis around component lifespan. Wear and tear is imminent as are breakdowns and component failures. However, the difference in unplanned downtime and outage being predominantly encompassed around regular planned maintenance, which generally allows prediction of component health which is where the magic tends to happen.
Preventive maintenance so long as previous results have been captured and are accurate, trend analysis is relative and data capture justified can essentially predict the failure of component parts, allowing replacement of these items in a timely manner ahead of any failure. This preventive maintenance can be in the form of several services the most common being visual inspection. There are others that follow the eyes on approach, but generally if an area or component doesn’t look how it should look then further analysis will follow. Vibration analysis, Thermographic analysis, Fluid sample analysis, Slippage analysis, Insulation resistance analysis etc. But the first method of any inspection schedule is always visual.
Visual inspection in industry can sometimes be a tedious task in itself with the requirement for prolonged outage periods, invasive access methods, increased risk to personnel, site shutdowns and enormous maintenance overheads. All of which DJM Aerial Solutions have firsthand experience with. The frustration around these procedures combined with completion pressures from clients and higher management forced us into looking at inspection requirements from literally a higher perspective.
We are all aware that drones can capture stunning images and video but how can they help in the real world other than drawing the eye to company websites and marketing materials?
UAV use in and around industry can be utilised in several ways we have covered a couple of different scenarios. However, a lot of people are still unaware that they are now as accurate for surveying land and spatial analysis as the traditional methods using a total station or Trimble set up and sometimes preferred over guys on foot walking around in a field for weeks on end collecting data. A drone can achieve 0.5cm/px and extremely high relative accuracy if conditions are correct. But can also collect data in conjunction with pre-positioned ground data points giving an extremely high level of global accuracy. Ideally suited to large developments or topographical survey of waterways and tidal protection.
Point cloud format can be achieved and the data uploaded to AutoCAD for further analysis in the same recognised file format. 3D models can be produced with relative mesh taken from the imagery captured. These can be printed in 3D format if required. Volumetric analysis of large stockpiles are also a popular route to market or land elevation models. The ground cover achieved by utilising drone technology for surveys can be up to 20 acres in 30 minutes with a GSD of 0.7″/px obviously a great deal more effective than personnel on the ground.
The structure around the drone service industry is growing, with more and more financial funding available to develop new systems and products that may create new jobs but also improve traditional roles. The industry will soon encompass full Artificial Intelligence with UAV capturing data without prompt and relaying it back to a remote ground station in an office somewhere. Goldman Sachs released a publication recently estimating the value of the industry to reach $100 Billion by 2020.
How Can Drones Be Used in An Offshore Environment
Given the current climate within the oil and gas industry drone technology has been welcomed by the industry leaders in an attempt to create a more efficient business model and save on costs whilst maintaining health and safety standards across the board. Traditional methods of rope access and scaffold or basket work seem to be less commonplace as more firms are embracing the use of RPAS within the confines of their installation. Industry leaders Cyberhawk carried out the first unmanned aerial inspection of a live flare, many more companies since then have jumped on the proverbial bandwagon offering similar services to the industry.
Thermography, for instance, has always played a huge part in the maintenance of modern offshore installations, where hydraulic engineers, electrical engineers, and mechanical engineers are encouraged to utilise the technology to build up a trend of component degradation. This can sometimes be a tedious task due to the arduous position that some of these components have been installed. Drone technology is now available with radiometric thermal sensors to allow for such situations. Live flare inspections can be carried out using this thermal technology giving a clear indication of the pilot flame integrity or whether the jets/nozzles are all performing as they should. Or to carry out a thermal survey on the active heave compensator at the top of a derrick, detecting for any leakage within the associated hydraulic components. Drive motor insulation break down and or premature bearing failure can also be detected utilising this exciting disruptive innovation.
Confined space entry traditionally carried out via manned inspection techniques where several persons are involved after carrying out rigorous checks on the oxygen levels, displacing toxic air produced by decaying organic matter and then entering the space to conduct the survey with full breathing apparatus, gas monitors etc. And not being able to fully inspect the space due to shear area and height of its extremities. This is now possible using collision tolerant RPAS with both thermal and RGB capabilities there is now no requirement for manned entry during these inspections as the operator can remain above deck.
Drone technology in the agriculture world is expanding and will no doubt be the industry that benefits most from drone technology and artificial intelligence.
Agriculture, precision farming, and crop management is another industry greatly benefiting from drone use. Crop survey during the growing season can greatly improve yields when carried out using multispectral cameras and sensors indicating deformation and disease detection of any crop allowing the end user, in this case, the farmer to treat the crop with relative fertilisers and treatment depends on the disease and crop affected.
The use of fertiliser is usually blanket sprayed onto the crops twice a season irrespective of disease or health. This technique obviously has huge implications towards waste management and is certainly a far cry from the lean cost-effectiveness that is required in farming.
In recent years several of the leading drone manufacturers have developed RPAS that have tanks attached to allow targeted areas of fertilisation or malnutrition and disease, these machines can speed up the workflow from an NDVI normalised difference vegetation index survey and allow continuation of the precision farming procedure by following up with targeted crop spraying, whilst keeping fertiliser wastage to a minimum.
This relatively new technology will no doubt be at the forefront of any new developments in Artificial intelligence once the UAV industry adopts it allowing farmers to concentrate on other areas.
Renewable Energy such as Wind Turbines, Biomass Boilers, Energy From Waste, Solar Farms and Tidal Power are embracing UAV Inspection Techniques. With several companies pushing to introduce artificial intelligence.
As with the above industries, the renewable energy industry still requires inspection and survey at regular intervals. Government organisations from around the world are throwing funding and capital towards renewable energy projects possibly in a bid to prepare for the future and to avoid another oil crisis like the current situation. Renewable energy is developing consistently and appear to be the future of power generation.
Several of the leading wind power industry leaders have already embraced the requirement for UAV survey methods. They understand that the time saved on having to shut down the asset for prolonged periods to carry out leading and trailing edge blade inspections is enough to warrant regular UAV inspection methods.
Artificial intelligence and drone technology will thrive in the wind power industry with several UAV Service Providers already looking into the possibility of developing Artificial Intelligence systems to carry out wind turbine inspections in an automated fashion.
“Typically 80-90% of the cost of offshore operations and maintenance is a function of accessibility during inspection – the requirement to get engineers and technicians to remote sites to evaluate a problem and decide what remedial action to undertake. Minimising the need for human intervention offshore is a key route to maximising the potential, and minimising the cost, for an offshore low-carbon generation. This will also ensure potential problems are picked up early, when the intervention required is minimal before major damage has occurred and when maintenance can be scheduled during a good weather window.”
Clearly, the cost-effectiveness of drone technology prevails over manned inspection techniques and without a doubt over the next few years we will see a plethora of artificial intelligence systems in the wind power industry.
The new developments within the sUAS world developing faster than anything We have ever known and the potential surrounding it is phenomenal. Recent developments towards adopting sUAS to carry out UT inspections for NDT purposes. Some sUAS professionals are working with fixed-wing machines beyond visual line of site BVLOS to carry out pipeline inspections, again traditionally carried out by individuals walking the lines. There have been instances where drones have been used to carry out inspections of contaminated areas around Chernobyl or Fukushima. As is mainstream knowledge companies are even using them to deliver parcels. It’s an exciting time to be directly involved in this industry and we are proud to state that we are experienced in the majority of the services we have spoken about. But are happy to discuss the requirement for others that we haven’t. We are fairly well connected within the industry and am sure that if there is something that we don’t offer then we will know somebody that does,
Please do visit us at https://djm-aerial.com for any of your aerial requirements based in the North East of England we have the experience and connections to also operate overseas,
Please give us a call on +44 (0) 1642 903779 to discuss your projects.
Thanks for reading
DJM Aerial Solutions
We have had a few requests to include some of the lesser priced RPAS that are also heavily involved within the commercial sector. Carrying out both inspection and survey. Please see below our top 5 entry level sUAS.
So that DJM Aerial Solutions view on the most popular RPAS used in our industry around inspection and survey. If you would like any advice on drones for inspection or survey requirements or even if you have an interest in what we are doing. Please do give us a call we’d be happy to speak with you +44 (0) 1642 903779.