The benefits of drones in the energy industry

UAV technology has transformed aerial survey and inspection services on- and offshore over recent years. Uptime of assets is maximised thanks to the use of UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles - or drones), which avoid the need for rope access inspections with their much longer duration and attendant costly shutdowns – to say nothing of the risks of working at height.

UAV inspections gather mission-critical data for asset integrity management in oil & gas installations. The accessibility and capability of this data has been a real ‘game changer’, delivering a much more time- and cost-efficient way of ensuring asset integrity, and doing this on a regular basis that allows for detailed monitoring and planning whilst also removing risk to personnel.

Avoiding unnecessary asset shutdowns – assisting planned shutdowns

Live asset UAV inspections enable operators to avoid unplanned shutdowns. Accurate assessments mean that operators get data on the true condition of a particular asset, rather than shutting the asset down at the first sign of an issue. Even when a problem does occur at an installation, UAV technology means that a shutdown may not always be required.

Technology with many applications

Applications of the technology are wide-ranging and include thermal gas detection, optical gas imaging and hyperspectral, which detects a multitude of different light spectrums that allow for materials such as asbestos to be identified as being present in a structure. Thermographic survey applications provide benefits that include more accurate coupled structural thermal analysis, optical gas leak detection (OGI), non-visual water ingress detection and hot spot housing identification.

‘Future proofing’ UAV inspections

The UAVs currently in operation can handle wind speeds of up to 15 metres per second (33.5mph) and have the flexibility to carry a variety of custom payloads – representing a ‘game changer’ for the energy sector.