Drones have become crucial tools for inspection: they collect accurate data safely and quickly, resulting in huge cost savings, insights, and more informed decision making.
Companies around the world have seen this potential and are harnessing the power of the technology.
A drone inspection is the process of using an unmanned aircraft to assess an asset. In this case, drones literally become the inspector’s eyes.
Drones have the advantage of reaching locations that are difficult, expensive, dangerous, live, or even impossible to reach by manned inspection teams and can be used for inland, underground, onshore, or offshore purposes.
A drone can inspect a range of assets, such as wind turbines, building facades, railways and crops.
Inspection drones are used in a wide range of industries, such as oil and gas, energy, agriculture, critical infrastructure, public safety and mining.
Cost Savings DJI M300 RTK and H20 saved oil giant Shell $100,000 in a single deployment.
Gain in efficiency Drones collect solar panel data more than 50 times faster than manual methods.
Reliable data Drone inspections in the energy sector provide a higher level of detail than classical methods,
Reduced risks “Drones increase safety and keep employees at a safe distance from hazardous areas” – Rio Tinto.
Using a drone for inspections has multiple advantages. These include:
Risk reduction: The inspection team no longer has to be in potentially dangerous situations, such as working at height. The drone can collect data for you, with your staff safely on the ground and away from hazardous areas.
Cost reduction: Drones save money in many ways, from requiring less labor to eliminating the need to erect scaffolding.
Downtime: Keep operations and resources open and running during critical inspections. Reducing or even eliminating downtime can save huge amounts of money.
Increased efficiency: Drone inspections greatly increase the time it takes to inspect one or more assets.
Increased inspections: In general, a drone inspection provides a cheaper and more efficient inspection solution, allowing more frequent inspections. This in turn means that any problems can be identified and resolved much more quickly.
Better data: Drones collect quality data, which can be archived to create a detailed record of an asset’s life cycle. Drones can conduct automated and repeatable missions, ensuring that the data is consistent every time, which is particularly vital for regular and comparative audits.
Versatility: Some drones, such as the M300 RTK, can be integrated with a range of different payloads to collect a variety of data, such as thermal, zoom and LiDAR. In the case of the M300 RTK and H20T payload, use the four-sensor camera array of thermal, wide-angle, zoom, and laser rangefinder to maximize data collection and increase mission efficiency.
“In offshore installations, a point of continuing concern is that of the flare/gas vent structure. Any type of close inspection of the boom or tip requires a rope access team and, as a result, a platform-level shutdown is put in place for the safety of the team, stopping any further oil/gas production until it is completed. Alternatively, the team must wait for an opportunity to initiate a shutdown before it can conduct the inspection. This can cost millions per day. But using a drone, an inspection can be conducted at any time, as an experienced pilot can safely fly over these facilities during full operation, knowing how to keep away from any fire or gas exposure, which means the platform can continue its production and not lose potential millions.”
Tim Harris, RUAS
Why do this? …
Various levels of data accuracy, both for single and repeatable inspections
… or this? …
High cost = less frequent inspections
High speeds/hard camera angles = lost data
… when can you do this?
Fast, efficient and secure
Range of cameras for diverse data collection
Autonomous flights = repeatable/accurate data collection
“With an inspection time per wind turbine of 15-30 minutes, drones reduce labor hours and downtime for maintenance inspections by more than 75%. One energy company realized a 95% ROI for drone inspections on wind farms due to cost savings and increased efficiency.”
The Case For Drones In Energy – a White Paper by Measure
“We see drones as generic data collection tools that drive information gathering without increasing operational exposure. We can keep people out of trouble and we don’t have to put them in potentially dangerous situations to get the data we need.”
Drones are a versatile solution that can use a variety of different cameras to capture a wide range of data for inspection purposes.
This enables insights for more informed decision making and more efficient response.
Types of drone inspection include:
Visual inspections with drone
A visual survey will constitute the vast majority of drone inspection missions.
This type of survey is much like what it sounds like: a thorough visual inspection of every part of an asset, whether it is a power line, a wind turbine, or a building.
In this case, the drone’s camera becomes the operator’s eyes, and images can be collected during a short drone flight and then reviewed in detail later.
Using a drone for this type of inspection eliminates the need to erect scaffolding or shut down a facility.
Zoom camera drone surveys
A key part of a visual survey is to use a zoom camera to locate an area of interest. This has numerous advantages.
Using a zoom camera provides a higher level of detail, allowing surveyors to find small defects, rust or missing parts, all without having to stop the operation.
The use of zoom helps acquire this data from a distance, avoiding dangerous and labor-intensive climbing-related work hours and keeping personnel away from potentially dangerous situations.
Thermal inspections with drones
Thermal imaging of drones is powerful, especially for utility and building inspections.
Operators can identify missing or damaged installations, water under roof membranes, exterior electrical problems, failed windows, and many other problems.
In the case of solar panel inspections, drones with thermal cameras can identify manufacturing defects, cracks, faulty interconnectors and temporary shading.
One of the most powerful aspects of a thermal camera is that it can detect and highlight problems that may go undetected during a visual inspection.
This data helps operators make informed and timely decisions to achieve efficient resolutions.
Hazardous materials surveys with drones
HazMat inspection is a risky business: volatile and toxic materials are involved.
Drones are helping with this type of inspection by reducing the need for humans to access the site.
Drones can carry specialized detectors to help with HazMat inspections, identifying things like vapor, chemicals and radiation.
This reduces the number of tasks that personnel must perform, in turn improving the safety and speed of the inspection.
Drones are able to transmit video footage or collect information that can be shared remotely to aid in decision making while improving safety.
Drone photogrammetry and mapping
Photogrammetry is a popular drone surveying technique and can be a useful application for inspections.
Photogrammetry is the process of capturing high-resolution images and merging these images into specialized software to create accurate digital twins of the real world.
This technique can be used to construct detailed, georeferenced 2D orthomosaics and 3D models.
These provide highly accessible images of an inspection area and can be used to make measurements, such as stock calculations. These data can be quickly shared with team members and stakeholders.
For these reasons, photogrammetry has become a crucial tool for inspections, capturing aerial views, tracking changes, and monitoring progress at a construction site, for example.
LiDAR inspections with drones
Drone LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) is a useful tool in the inspection toolbox.
LiDAR sends thousands of light pulses every second to help build accurate 3D models of the world.
This can be useful for a variety of inspection missions. Take power lines, for example. LiDAR point clouds can be used to provide accurate data on the location and height of everything on the map and can be used to measure the distance between trees and power lines.
LiDAR is extremely powerful in that it can be used at night and is particularly effective in areas with dense vegetation, as LiDAR pulses are able to penetrate the spaces between leaves and branches to reach ground level.
Because LiDAR emits thousands of pulses, it can be used to create robust datasets, helping to collect smaller objects on a dataset, such as overhead cables.
The benefits of drone inspections are clear, but how are UAVs helping specific industries?
The following section explores the use cases of drone inspection in the business sector and the types of inspections they are conducting.
Oil and gas drone inspections
Drones help oil and gas professionals inspect and manage assets, such as refineries, storage tanks, offshore platforms and smokestacks/fireplaces, with minimal downtime and without compromising personnel safety.
Unmanned aircraft can be used to conduct inspections of refinery infrastructure to help identify faults or weaknesses. Prior to drones, helicopters would be needed to examine light signaling systems or the installation of scaffolding to allow personnel to inspect tall structures-both expensive, while the latter is also dangerous,
Drones can also be used for pipeline integrity management. They can quickly cover vast stretches of pipeline-especially useful when flying over complex, undulating terrain-helping to identify leaks or anomalies.
Drones can prevent plant downtime, reduce routine maintenance time, and perform inspections without disrupting operations. This is a great advantage, as every second of downtime is a loss of revenue.
Drones can help to:
Assess the operation of refinery flares;
Evaluate steam systems;
Identify weaknesses in facilities;
Point failures in flanges;
Drones for energy inspection
Drones can be used throughout the energy sector. Below, we focus on how drones are helping to inspect power lines, wind turbines, and solar panels.
Drone power line inspection
Drones offer an effective solution to inspect and manage power lines, with increased speed, efficiency and safety, all while reducing labor hours and costs.
Performing an automated drone inspection can save 30 to 50 percent in cost and time compared to alternative methods.
After all, traditional methods are expensive, labor intensive, and dangerous. Using a helicopter is expensive, noisy and complex, while manual methods can be dangerous, slow and hampered by difficult terrain.
Drones change all that. And they are particularly well suited for powerline inspection because they help cover large areas quickly and are an ideal tool for repeated inspections; typical of the powerline inspection industry.
Using a drone, powerline inspectors can:
Assess the condition of all components of a power line without workers climbing to heights;
Cover large areas faster-increasing the number of powerlines inspected-and reach hard-to-reach places;
Inspections are conducted from a safe distance, with drone cameras such as zoom, thermal imaging, LiDAR and 4K providing key insights, all while personnel keep their boots on the ground;
Real-time data for informed and rapid insights and decision making;
Easily automate missions-ideal for efficiency, conducting repeatable flights, and collecting more reliable year-over-year comparison data;
High-resolution visual inspections compared to ground inspections; Towers remain functional during inspection.
Use of Drones in the search for water leaks
Over the years, water pipes can have problems with leaks, often these are small ruptures, leading to a very minor and difficult to locate loss of water, this results not only in a waste of one of the most important elements to life, but in some situations can also result in environmental damage, going to erode or mutate the environment.
The use of drones in this can help us in no small way, in fact in recent years, some specialists in the field are testing and bringing home very good results with aerial surveys, with the use of this type of means, which allow us to have an overview from above, exploiting the different Payload, such as multispectral or thermal chambers, in the first case going to exploit the multispectral values given by the camera, data that are georeferenced, subsequently to the collection of data, it will be necessary to perform an analysis to confirm the presence of excess water in certain points. While the use of thermal chambers, goes to exploit the temperature changes that there are in the fluids that pass in the pipelines, when they have a temperature different from that of the ground they can be identified even if they pass within buried systems, in the same way can also take place the location of leaks, again, exploiting georeferenced data you can have a complete and detailed analysis of the territory.
With this technique you have several advantages, including; Speed of intervention, being able to cover large areas quickly and without too much travel, in some places it is often difficult to intervene due to the state of the soil or vegetation, You also do not go to intervene with destructive surveys, which could lead not only to a lengthening of time but much higher costs, but the most important thing is the data in high definition with the various sensors that can be analyzed.
The uses are the most varied, we can carry out periodic checks in dams, using not only drones with purely visual cameras, but also exploiting drones with thermal or Multispectral, analysis of terrestrial water pipes, looking for leaks. Inspection of pipelines for sewage use, waste control for agricultural use.
That’s why DJI collaborates with industry bodies by providing drones applicable to this use, offering the possibility to take advantage of the DJI Phantom 4 RTK Multispectral camera with attached D-RTK2 gps station, which allows for accurate accuracy of all the survey performed. While to take advantage of thermal DJI offers the DJI Matrice 300 + H20T or the brand new M30T.
Drone inspection of wind turbine
Drone inspection can provide a visual and/or thermographic image of the condition of wind turbine components.
Using a drone to inspect wind turbines has multiple advantages, including a safe working environment, reduced downtime, high-quality images and video, access to otherwise inaccessible areas, and dynamic sensing. It is also more cost-effective and provides more accurate data than using helicopters for the same task.
The image above shows how a drone with a zoom camera can be used to locate all aspects of the turbine, so close that you can even see the serial number. This capability allows inspectors to quickly identify any defects from a distance.
Meanwhile, thermal cameras can be used to check structural problems and weak points in the blade. The temperature profile of the blade surface, for example, indicates potential defects. Therefore, thermal images are useful for discovering hidden defects and faults.
“Drone inspections in the power sector can provide a higher level of detail-missing pins, rust, damaged insulators-than typical ground or helicopter patrols, while also avoiding the dangerous man-hours involved in climbing. The cost of equipment, training, software, and support for an in-house drone program pays for itself 5 times more with just 50 miles of power lines inspected, plus a substation inspection.”
The Case For Drones In Energy – a White Paper by Measure
Utility and infrastructure inspections
Utilities and infrastructure is a broad term, but it includes assets such as roads, bridges, telecommunications towers and railways, among others.
Drones are used in this sector to perform regular maintenance inspections or following natural disasters-such as hurricanes or floods-where the condition of the asset is unknown but may have been damaged.
As with other sectors, one of the main advantages of using drones for utility and infrastructure inspections is the ability to capture quality data quickly, safely, and relatively inexpensively. For example, there is no need for personnel to climb a telecommunications tower; the drone can do it.
When it comes to bridge inspections, there is no need for heavy machinery, as drones can collect the required data in one flight or a series of flights and can perform follow-up inspections more regularly due to the ease and inexpensiveness of their use. These flights can also be automated.
Drones can also be used for project updates. Balfour Beatty used drones on a major Smart Motorway development, flying regularly over the 13.6-mile stretch to track progress and identify errors. Imagine how much more difficult and time-consuming this would have been without a drone.
Drones can inspect:
“Drones are a cost-effective solution for close-up inspections of difficult-to-access facilities. Performing inspections by air means we can keep the railroad open and our people safe: the trains can keep running, and because we don’t have to send engineers to the tracks, it improves safety.”
Building inspections with drones
The construction industry is the fastest growing user of commercial drones, and inspection plays a significant role.
Deploying drones for construction can save hundreds of thousands of pounds over the life cycle of a project and can be much more efficient than traditional methods, taking a few hours to collect data instead of days in some cases.
Drones can be used in the construction industry to monitor progress on site, check for errors, measure inventory, and compare actual construction against design plans.
As a result of drone inspections, companies are able to construct 2D orthomosaic maps or 3D models for highly detailed and accurate visual representations of the project. These digital twins can be quickly and easily shared with staff and stakeholders to improve communication and decision making.
Drones can also be used to inspect the work site for possible safety or maintenance issues, such as a damaged section of perimeter fence or using a thermal imaging camera to detect an overheated tank, for example.
As a result, drones help construction companies stay on schedule, reduce costs, improve communication, and protect workers.
“With drones and associated software, data can be collected from a site in half an hour, compared to three days using traditional portable methods. Drones enable companies to create highly accurate maps and point clouds, discover costly jobs-site errors and predict planning delays, saving up to tens of thousands of pounds per week.”
They are particularly useful for rooftop inspections because they collect this data quickly without having to send personnel aloft.
Bird’s-eye views from a drone can also reveal information about a building that was not apparent from the ground, while thermal cameras can help detect energy-wasting problems and help focus the inspector’s attention, enabling proper diagnosis of key areas of loss.
The image shows a 3D model of a building captured by the DJI Phantom 4 RTK from the engineering department of the city of Henderson, USA.
Engineering technician, Logan Tyndall, said, “These maps can be used for roof inspections of abandoned and occupied buildings. From the street, these buildings do not appear to be in poor condition, but the aerial images tell a different story.
“By having these high-resolution images, we can better manage our resources without even having to put boots on the ground.”
Drones have rapidly emerged as a vital tool for agriculture, replacing the age-old method of farmers manually walking their fields to monitor and inspect their crops.
With drones and their sophisticated array of sensors, farmers are able to increase crop production, monitor and inspect crop growth, create a richer picture of their fields, improve agricultural efficiency, and maximize results.
For example, farmers can build 3D models of their land to better understand irrigation conditions or use a drone to provide regular updates on crop conditions in remote locations on a large farm.
Drones are able to obtain this information much more quickly than walking in the field and, compared to using manned aviation, are a much more accessible and cost-effective method. This data can also be collected over time, allowing farmers to compare crop patterns between seasons or years.
Drones provide real-time information and are not evasive to crops.
“Efficient weed control in an agricultural operation is critical. Knowing when and where to apply herbicide can provide significant savings, not only in preventing crop damage, but also in minimizing the amount of product that is purchased and applied. Remote sensing technology can help growers evaluate the effectiveness of treatments, identify problem areas and implement necessary corrective actions.”
MicaSense and Dynamic Wings
Public safety drone programs
Public safety officials are increasingly using drones for inspection purposes.
UAVs are powerful during a live incident because of their ability to provide real-time footage and vital situational awareness, helping to shape a more effective response and keep crews out of harm’s way.
The partial dam wall collapse at Whaley Bridge in 2019 demonstrated this. Derbyshire police deployed a DJI drone, with a zoom camera, to inspect the situation and monitor the extent of the damage. Without the drone, someone would have had to get close to the damage, climb a rope along the dam to take a look and put their life at risk.
As the image shows, police also used the drone to check where bags of aggregate were placed by RAF Chinooks to secure the damaged section and look for any violations, providing instant, real-time, close-up information thanks to the zoom lens.
Officers can also deploy drones to inspect a crime scene or conduct accident scene investigations.
Public safety drone inspections include:
Visual data collection of ongoing incidents, such as fires;
Situational awareness vital to help deploy resources in the safest and most efficient manner;
Deployment after an event, such as inspecting areas destroyed by fire; Incident reconstruction;
Inspection of public spaces such as stadiums or festival grounds for safety issues or pre-event planning.
“Using a drone for accident scene investigation and accident reconstruction is about a hundred times more detailed than what we could do with people manually taking measurements. And it means there is much less time to close the road and block traffic.”
Chief Deputy Jeff Lower of the Tazewell County, Illinois Sheriff’s Office
Mining drone inspections
The mining industry is one of the fastest adopters of drone technology, and it is easy to see why.
Mines are dangerous and hostile environments, so drones enable fast and accurate data collection while keeping employees safe.
Drones also allow access to the inaccessible, which in turn helps stimulate better planning and decision making.
Drone inspections can be used throughout the lifecycle of a mining operation, from mapping areas of interest and potential blast sites during the exploration phase to documenting equipment during construction and final site details at closure.
But their most common and practical use is during the operational phase. Drone inspections provide an overhead view of the site, showing overall progress, assessing haul roads, highlighting any stability hazards or illegal mining activities, and monitoring management of pits and dumps.
They can also be used to inspect resources on site, providing real-time information in the process. These inspection resources include:
Open Stope: support backfill operations by exploring restricted areas such as excavated open stops. Understand ground conditions without putting personnel at risk.
Drop Raise: identify clogging by flying down a dusty, wet, rocky rise in an underground mine.
Stockpile Feeder: assesses integrity and plans maintenance by flying through the stockpile hole and collecting images.
Conveyor belt: No need to disturb the operation and stop the excavation in progress; use the drone to assess the integrity of conveyor belts.
Blast areas: produces convenient and accessible 3D reconstructions and surface models for areas to be blasted or drilled, helping to better plan resources.
“We use DJI drones for many survey and inspection jobs, helping to improve decision making and optimize inspections. Drones help the mining industry for a variety of reasons, including improved safety, removal of employees from hazardous areas, and increased cost savings. We use drones for a variety of operations, including reality modeling, resource management, and drilling/explosion analysis. For us, UAVs are another tool in the toolbox.”
Andrew Carey, of Rio Tinto Kennecott Utah Copper
Chemical inspections with drones
Drone inspections in the chemical industry have one major advantage: they reduce the need for humans to be exposed to potentially harmful materials.
This is critical because inspection within the chemical industry is an important task. Any leakage caused by a poorly maintained storage container could lead to serious consequences. For example, the spillage of chemicals into a waterway or into the ground could cause serious health problems for people in the surrounding area.
Therefore, drones can be used to quickly and safely inspect the integrity of a chemical company’s resources. And because a drone reduces the need for personnel to get close to tanks or containers, there is less need to build time-consuming and expensive scaffolding.
Drones can be used to inspect the following resources:
Silos and storage containers.
“A number of benefits are associated with using drones: increased safety margins; reduced risk; improved efficiency: getting more work done in less time, with fewer people and saving money; and providing high-quality data more quickly, typically within minutes of completion . In one case, we used a drone to inspect the fin tubes in the convection section to determine whether or not a carbon dioxide explosion was needed to clean them and restore their efficiency. The drone data helped determine that we could have dispensed with cleaning in this outage-a very significant savings.”
Larry Barnard, El Segundo Refinery
Drone inspections in the insurance industry
A drone is a useful tool for insurance claims, particularly after a natural disaster or event such as a fire.
Drones have the advantage of being able to safely access damaged or dangerous areas and collect unique aerial views of a disaster area.
High-resolution visual images can be quickly collected by drones and easily shared with insurance companies, providing a truthful and clear record of the damage to help validate an insurance claim.
For example, the 2018 Camp Fire was the deadliest and most destructive fire in California’s history and the world’s costliest natural disaster for that year in terms of insured damages.
In the wake of the incident, drone maps of entire neighborhoods were created, allowing homeowners to send images to insurance companies to immediately process claims, a process that traditionally could take days or weeks. Many have also used the images to access FEMA relief funds for families affected by the fires.
The same happened in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, which struck Cape Verde. The extensive property damage meant that claims adjusters needed to inspect every structure and estimate the cost of repairs before insurance companies could begin helping island residents get back on their feet.
From the ground, it would have taken months. But by using drone maps to assess structural damage caused by the hurricane, insurance inspectors reduced the process to days, all while improving safety, data collection and response time for the claims process.
In addition to disaster areas, drones can be used to inspect the following for insurance claims:
Traffic accident scenes;
Damage to farms/crops;
Buildings and related infrastructure on an insured site.
“After the wildfire, we used drones to take 10,000 photographs from below and stitched them together into an orthomosaic map so that citizens who lived there and couldn’t return could take a look at that map up to their address and could see what had happened to their property without entering a danger zone. We learned that mapping was really important as part of an integrated emergency management strategy.”
Commander Tom Madigan, Alameda County Sheriff’s Office
Scientific drone inspections
Drones are being deployed by academics and professionals to conduct inspection missions in the field of science.
Volcano inspections: Drones are changing the way scientists can sample and detect previously inaccessible volcanic plumes, acquire limited information through ground-based techniques, and conduct short-range gas surveys. Using drones for this type of study helps protect local communities by obtaining key information about volcanic activity and makes inspections safer and more accessible. .
Inspection of radiation levels at Chernobyl: Drones were used to complete comprehensive inspections of the Chernobyl Red Forest, one of the most radioactive places on Earth. The drones helped provide up-to-date information on the sites with the highest contamination and also revealed previously undetected radiation hotspots. The use of the drones allowed scientists to investigate dangerous locations from a safe distance. The UAVs also helped the team quickly cover large areas. Read the full case study here.
“Drones are changing the way we study and inspect volcanoes and have enormous potential for volcanic hazard monitoring. Many volcano areas are too dangerous to reach on foot, so we have used drone technology to get our instruments close enough to take direct measurements.”
Dr Emma Liu, University of Cambridge
DRONE INSPECTIONS: CASE STUDIES
How drones are used in the real world for inspections.
30 percent efficiency savings using DJI M300 RTK Valmont Industries has achieved significant efficiency savings by using drone technology or, more specifically, by flying the DJI M300 RTK with H20T camera.
The company needs to inspect more than 2,000 inspection poles, covering 12,000 square miles. Using the drone has the following advantages:
Increased efficiency: The drone can inspect up to 12 poles per day, compared to four with a crane crew. The M300 RTK’s endurance also helps increase the number of poles that can be inspected during a day.
Comparable data: using the AI SpotCheck feature on the H20 series camera, the crew can repeatedly conduct the same flight. This allows them to compare apples to apples to see if there have been significant changes in structure over multiple years.
Increased zoom: the H20T has a 23x hybrid optical zoom and a 200x maximum zoom. This increased zoom allows the team to detect smaller defects, helping to check for missing elements, such as nuts and bolts.
“Drones are changing the inspection industry. They make inspection more efficient and faster. We have many poles to inspect, but we can do it in much less time with drones than with traditional methods.”
Valmont Utilities Staff
Global oil giant Shell benefits from drone data
The team at Shell Deer Park in the United States has been using on-site drones since 2016 to inspect and maintain industrial equipment, reducing the need for dangerous and daunting climbs, improving safety, and cutting inspection costs.
Flare tips and floating roof tanks are among the key assets that require scheduled inspections; a process made easier, safer and more efficient with a drone. After all, their conditions and activities are difficult to assess from land.
Most recently, the team deployed the M300 RTK with H20 camera, with outstanding results, especially when inspecting structures and navigating steam pipe systems.
200x optical zoom: The team was able to get close-up views of each asset from a safe distance without sacrificing image quality.
Omni-directional obstacle detection: When inspecting pipe racks, for example, the M300 RTK can self-correct and fly between objects before descending to the correct altitude. The team no longer has to worry about the drone stopping after detecting an obstacle and putting the pilot in a difficult situation.
Extended flight time: The M300 RTK can stay airborne for 45 minutes when flying with H20. This is especially ideal for demanding missions and to get as much data as possible during a single flight. The ability to hot-swap the drone’s TB60 batteries without aborting the mission is also a great time saver.
AI SpotCheck: automates missions to collect repeatable data on each flight; especially useful for periodic inspections of the same asset. It means there is no more guesswork; the team can get the same picture of the same tank every week, making it easier to compare problems and make smarter maintenance decisions.
Health management system: this system simplifies fleet maintenance and keeps track of each aircraft’s flight data over time. The team can now better understand their fleet’s performance and make data-driven decisions on serviceability.
“Steam system leaks and other abnormal situations require an eye to the sky. Procedures are in place to ensure the drone team is in the loop when they occur. We will receive a phone call or it will be mentioned in the morning briefing. I will hear firsthand what the engineers need and we can quickly put together a mission plan, do risk assessments and have a drone in the air within 20-30 minutes and things can be assessed in real time. “
John McClain, Chief Drone Pilot at Shell Deer Park
Saving the customer time and money
Drone service provider, Terra Drone Europe (formerly Skeye BV), uses drones for offshore inspections, benefiting from increased safety and efficiency.
Working on behalf of a major oil company and deploying the DJI M200 drone with the Z30 zoom camera, Skeye BV has achieved the following:
Time savings: The drone inspections took several weeks, but saved several months of laborious Rope Access inspections. After drone images were evaluated, Rope Access teams were called in to repair defects.
Access to all areas: the M200 was used to inspect exterior features, while an alternate drone was used for confined space inspections. This ensured that all areas were inspected, including areas that were difficult to access.
No downtime: Terra Drone was to inspect stocks. The drone offered a safe inspection solution without affecting platform operations, providing a complete inspection on the flashlight stacks while they were operational.
“The M200 is the mainstay of the fleet after proving its worth over the past year of offshore operations. When equipped with the Z30 payload, the reliability and results are outstanding. It makes our surveys extremely safe as we can fly farther from structures and get better results than previous cameras without zoom capabilities. The data produced from these flights has been significant and makes data management and interpretation extremely efficient and comprehensive.”
Patrick Rickerby, Terra Drone Europe
Drones for rooftop inspections
This image shows the power of using a drone and zoom camera for roof inspection work.
Quayle Industries used the DJI M210 V2 with the Z30 to conduct the assessment: the top image shows the view above the building, while the bottom photo is a crystal-clear image of two of the chimneys, as acquired using zoom.
This technique allowed the inspection to be completed without having to send team members to the roof, improving safety. These data were acquired with the boots firmly on the ground!
As a result, it was also a great time saver, as the information was collected much more quickly than with manual methods. Imagine how much slower the process would be if scaffolding had to be erected, followed by someone having to climb to the top and take photographs manually, not to mention dangerous and expensive!
This inspection method also did not skimp on quality, with the Z30 collecting every detail of the two chimneys, helping to guide decision making and remedies where necessary.
“If you need an asset inspection, drones can take high-definition photos that show the condition of the property. This is perfect for roofs and other hard-to-reach areas. For roof inspections, you’ll be able to see if there are broken tiles, moss buildup, or other damage. And after the repair has been made, an aerial inspection will show whether the repair was done correctly. By using a drone, you negate the need for overhead work platforms or scaffolding, reducing cost, time and, most importantly, risk.”
Quinton Quayle, Quayle Industries
Inspection of the Lloyds Building in London
Digital services company, The Virtulab, completed a drone inspection of London’s iconic Lloyd building using a DJI M210 RTK and X7 camera.
The team obtained an operational security case to fly near the building inside the City of London, the capital’s main financial district.
The brief was to capture details of the Lloyd’s facade as part of a five-year project to assess and monitor the building’s exterior fabric.
The use of the drone had numerous advantages:
Increased safety and efficiency: the drone has replaced the need for rope access, saving time and improving safety.
Non-invasive inspection: the Lloyds building is classified as Grade I. The drone was able to keep itself away from the structure, preventing any bumps, scratches or damage that could be caused by alternative methods.
Reusable data: The use of the drone was ideal for capturing consistent data, eliminating the need to descend outside the building and stop at regular intervals to take photos manually. Accurate drone data is a more reliable process for cross-referencing and validation throughout the project life cycle.
“It is much easier with a drone to achieve the right workflow; not only is it quicker and safer, but it is also a more methodical and consistent way of capturing the data you need, which in turn is better for cross-referencing and validating.”
The type of data you wish to collect during your drone inspection will determine which camera you will use.
Some drones, such as the DJI Mavic 2 Enterprise Advanced and the Phantom 4 RTK, have fixed cameras. But larger drones, such as the DJI M300 RTK series and DJI Matrice 30T, can be integrated with a range of different cameras, allowing maximum flexibility for drone inspection missions.
Available payloads have a wide range of capabilities, allowing operators to collect various data, such as thermal, zoom and LiDAR. Meanwhile, the Z15 bright spotlight, is ideal for illuminating inspection areas, especially during low-light missions.
Multi-sensor solution for a wide range of inspection missions.
Complete end-to-end support to grow your drone inspection business.
Your drone partner
A successful commercial drone program is based on a multifaceted approach. It is not just hardware; it is developing a complete end-to-end workflow, with all components working effectively, together.
For that, you need a pillar of support to help you build a solid foundation, cover all the bases, and connect the dots.
This is where Dronedubai can help you. At the forefront of the industry since 2008, we have more than 20 staff members who can help every aspect of your business, from startup to scalability.
Our one-stop-shop structure includes consulting; hardware supply and support; global logistics; pilot and industry-specific training; and in-house repair, incident resolution, and research and development to provide a comprehensive, integrated support network.
This approach has enabled us to enhance the drone programs of many Italian companies.
Drones for sale
Extensive stock inventory for instant supply, downsizing and immediate replacements;
Global network of industry partners;
Service level agreements;
Financial options available;
3,000+ candidates trained;
ENAC and DJI approved courses;
Online training and remote theory exams;
Closed courses and industry-specific training;
UTC DJI Academy courses;
DJI-approved in-house repair center offering incident support and repair management;
Instant replacement of dead on arrival products, including telephone fault diagnosis with one of four technicians and free returns/replacements of defective items;
Warranty repairs/replacements at no additional cost, including access to the repair infrastructure in Italy from our Repair Center;
Firmware upgrade and configuration support;
Data analysis, premium customer support and resolution with the manufacturer;
Research and development lab for custom builds and sensor integration.