As enterprises leverage UAVs to complete tasks currently done by humans, they must address a number of operational challenges and adjust underlying business processes to accommodate a collaborative environment between humans, robots and IT systems. In addition, they must determine what business value can be derived from automated data gathering, which tasks can be both electronically and mechanically automated in a workflow, and what intelligence can be obtained from data gathered.
High voltage lines are electrical lines that distribute power at high voltages. The maintenance of these lines is a risky job, which requires careful attention and caution. Power line maintenance involves examining the pylons, inspecting their insulators and detecting thermographic problems.
Inspection is currently performed from the ground or by helicopter. The difference is that line inspectors who work from the ground are required to climb posts to access the lines whilst inspectors using helicopters do not. Inspection with helicopters is much more expensive and sometimes timeous enough to avoid pending disruptions.
Unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) provide a safe, cheap and easily deployable alternative to traditional methods. UAS carry cameras that produce high resolution images as well as thermal images, are equipped with transmitters enabling sharing of the live footage, are easy to deploy and can fly to within a couple of metres of the lines. UAS aided inspections can improve the quality and safety of inspection, increase the frequency of inspection and reduce the costs of inspection all in one go.
Key infrastructures are like the veins of our society and include technical structures such as roads, bridges, waterways, airports and railroads. The maintenance of these structures is costly, yet indispensable for the proper functioning of modern economies.
A major difficulty for maintenance and inspection services is the vast surface some structures cover. To perform proper maintenance the structures need to be closely inspected; however physical inspection of each part requires a significant amount of time.
An efficient alternative to physical inspection is inspection with unmanned aircraft systems (UAS). These systems can carry various cameras for day and night inspection, can be equipped with additional sensors such as sniffers, and are programmable to fly specific routes regularly. UAS can inspect larger areas, in different ways, in less time and at lower costs. In addition, the more frequent regular inspections facilitate faster problem recognition, resulting in fewer negative externalities.
The increasing focus on renewable resources has fuelled governments worldwide to invest in wind energy. As a result, the number of wind turbines has grown exponentially over the last few years. Yet, while the number of turbines grew, so too has the need for cheaper and safer inspection methods.
There are several methods for turbine inspection, like the cherry picker, service platform, hydraulic crane or rope descent. The problem with these methods is that they involve heavy equipment or climbing, which is time consuming, costly and very dangerous.
A safe and efficient solution to these issues is the employment of UAS to perform inspection. UAS do not require heavy equipment or inspectors to climb the turbine and therefore lower the inspection time as well as the down time of the turbine substantially. The advantage of UAS is that they can provide several methods of inspection, including high-resolution images, full HD recordings and even multispectral thermal imaging at lower costs than that of traditional methods.
Pipeline monitoring and inspection for the oil and gas industry. In the Energy industry, one critical function is asset management and monitoring to assess production performance, environmental and safety compliance, overall integrity and other factors. While the needs are straightforward, the complexities, risks and scale involved are immense: pipelines span thousands of miles, manufacturing facilities offer potential exposure to hazardous chemicals, and production platforms are often remote; for example, in deep water and arctic environments. Maintenance, integrity and surveillance activities are costly to plan and execute, and must be done routinely to avoid leaks, production outages and unplanned shutdowns.
UAVs offer an attractive complement to conventional approaches of facility management, there are even greater untapped opportunities for cost savings through activities such as automated data gathering, automated maintenance, integrity and surveillance workflow, and data analysis to generate predictive insights on facilities. These insights can be used to drive operational decisions and improve business processes, such as shortening lead time to problem detection or predictive maintenance in industries with field force operations.
Decrease costs. A UAV can be used to automate simple tasks and therefore reduce labour costs. For example, aerial inspection of pipelines using helicopters costs approximately $3,000 for an hour of operations. UAVs have the potential to reduce these costs significantly, while providing improved accuracy through the use of multiple sensors on the same platforms.
Reduce safety exposure. In areas that have been exposed to contamination or are potential security threats, UAVs enable organizations to explore these areas and even deliver supplies without exposing employees to the associated risks. For example, UAVs were used in Fukushima to assess the nuclear reactor damage.
Increase production. In the energy sector keeping refineries and rigs up and running ensures the flow of product to customers. UAVs can be used to avoid unnecessary shut-downs or reduce the disruption to operations— which keep oil and gas moving.
Manage for a fleet, not a flight. Much of the experimentation to date has been hands-on and high-touch involving a small number of UAVs. However, enterprises should expect that the actual number of UAVs needed will vary by situation. As such, they should work to acquire and manage a fleet of UAVs, some of which will likely be of different types, based on the business application in a highly automated manner.
Plan global, think local. Many organizations have intentions to leverage UAVs in multiple geographies. Although we encourage enterprises to prepare for such global deployments, these plans will have to be adjusted to accommodate local guidelines and regulations, which vary dramatically based on jurisdiction.
Design for data collection and analysis. Enterprises will use sensor data collected by UAVs to guide work processes and generate insight. The sensor data that is collected can be used for preventive maintenance, operational intelligence and/or predictive maintenance.
For this reason, companies will need a data management platform to capture, process and analyze the incoming data to identify notable events and create reports.
Change how work is done. To take full advantage of UAVs, it is recommended that enterprises see them as an active part of the business process. This approach changes the role of existing employees (e.g., field operators, analysts, IT operations), as well as the data, IT infrastructure and operations.
In the oil and gas pipeline maintenance example, UAVs would function as new “digital workers,” taking on tasks that were previously undertaken by humans, such as leak detection, perimeter surveillance and right-of-way monitoring. Ultimately, this approach could improve asset integrity, mitigate risks, facilitate faster decision-making and increase executive oversight.
A DRONES EYE VIEW.
AIRBORNE DRONES provide the facilities manager, surveyor, or security monitor with a complete airborne UAV platform, that enables remote sensing and record geo-referenced data types that, if required, can include:
Airborne Drones focuses on the design, manufacturing and marketing of long range sUAVs (10 and 20kms), with payloads of up to 8kgs, for industrial strength commercial use. Long range drone products have the potential to have huge benefits for commerce and business. Solutions can be developed and/or customised to meet specific client requirements. Services can include support and training during implementation, as well as post implementation.
Airborne Drones services an international base of clients ranging from South Africa to the UAE. Clients include representatives from the following industries: Marketing, Real Estate, Security, Agriculture, Game farms, Wildlife management, Electrical installations, Telecommunications, Travel and tourism, Sheet metal manufacturing, Satellite electronics, Wind farms, Industrial Rope Access, Restaurant and Food, Environmental Affairs, Military Applications.
We recommend the A1-Thermal system for inspection and working in close proximity to objects. Dual X8 configuration allows the drone to stabilize when working near objects such as cable lines and towers without the risk of weather knocking units into objects. The Dual camera system allows you to fly in low light and dark weather while only needing your Thermal camera for actual detection work giving you peace of mind that you are in control.
We recommend the A-2 Multi-Spectral system for monitoring the health and vigour of crops. It allows growers and agronomists to detect areas of stress in a crop and manage these issues immediately. It enables precise application of nutrient inputs and disease preventative actions based on the actual field conditions the day.