Imagine a 70 metre-tall steel tower on a Norwegian gas processing plant, which needs to be inspected on regularly base. How would you do that, if you want reduce the risk, inspecting time and costs to possible minimum? Traditionally it used to be done manually, engineers had to abseiling down the whole flaring stack, forcing the plant to shut down for almost two weeks. However, contemporary UAV technology offers significantly easier and more effective way of such tricky inspecting. With the drone deployment takes the whole operation just a few hours, the plant is running without any problems and engineers can stay out of danger. Actually, we are talking about Shell´s new inovation, where their engineers are using UAV inspecting of conditions of its oil and gas facilities, especially in places which are hard to access. It´s always safer and even more efficient than sending people, just picture some tall tower of the underbelly of an offshore oil ring. Using the UAS for checking the extend of possible damage is much more safer, effective and less time consuming than do so in a conventional way. In other words, it´s also cheaper and less problematic, which can would any company definitely appreciate.
A growing array of various cameras and sensors is here to equip remotely controlled multi-rotors and fixed-wing drones. UAV inspecting of hight structures, gas pipelines or facilities can be done quickly and thoroughly, so you don´t need to use any scaffolding or abseil down to see potential danger and problems in structure. In windy locations can the drones keep their stability thanks to GPS and gyroscopes. This technology also allow operators to change shooting position of their UAV in the air. Shell used recently multicopters to perform UAV inspecting of the Nyhamna in Norway, which is one of the biggest gas producting facility in Europe. Thanks to UAS with sophisticated sensors can inspectors on the ground still get a good view of the Nyhamna plant´s top. In a wake of this kind of succesfull operations is Shell using UAV technology increasingly and more regurarly. For the power industry is nowadays definitely one of the hottest topic, this is a perfect field where the drones can show their real potential.
However, we can surely present some more examples of succesfully done UAV inspecting. For example, there is Bacton gas terminal in the UK, one of the most important gas supply point for the whole Britain, which has also deployed drones with gas sensors in order to check the condition of the facility. Inspecting of this undoubtedly crucial gas facility is always a tricky job to do – though it was done safely, quickly and thoroughly, all thanks to UAV technology. Also consider the fact that the whole gas terminal stayed fully operational during the whole operation. Inspection specialist Mark Bailey said that this inspection reinforce the confidence of their team in using UAS for this many purposes. And so it once again proved that UAV inspecting is safer, faster, more effective and cheaper than convential methods. If the inspected facilities are still running during the operation, it means that infrared cameras onboard can capture detailed, live heat images taken directly above the ground – which is virtually impossible to achieve if the plat was shut down.