We have discussed in a previous blog the advantages of joint use of UAS with robots in inspections and work in industrial areas.
Its joint use provides advantages by increasing data collection always safely and with the possibility of automating its operation.
Industrial companies from all sectors are already aware of the enormous advantages of these new tools, which are still showing large levels of increase in use.
The improvements obtained in the processes are already known, especially in those that have traditionally been carried out by workers. The advantages produced by cost savings are also recognized, either due to the simplicity and ease of operation and the speed of execution, which reduces the downtime of the facilities. Another aspect perhaps not so commented on is the increase in the quality of the inspections, since UAS and robots in general are tools that always perform their data collection with total reliability, without the incidence of the human factor. In addition, by having a safe and more economical inspection and control system, inspections are increased with which more aggressive control programs can be established, which, in turn, results in the standardization of predictive maintenance processes.
In general, UAS have been used as a specialized tool to complete a specific and specific task, but now a change is taking place in which these aircraft, together with other types of robots, are being incorporated into industrial companies as a permanent form and natural for day-to-day use. They offer an easy, cost-effective and secure way to collect data and are being incorporated as ongoing help and support tools.
Let’s see some examples of tasks typical of a large energy company in which UAS are being used permanently.
Surveillance and supervision of facilities. High definition cameras and various sensors are used to generate images and 3D point clouds of the facilities.
Inspection of complicated and inaccessible structures. High resolution cameras are usually used and depending on the work, surface reconstruction can be carried out with 3D maps.
Topographic survey and precision maps. UAS equipped with sensors and lidar to acquire very high resolution images to generate topographic and digital terrain data.
Inspection of confined spaces. UAS with protections for visual inspections and with its own guidance and positioning systems.
Surveillance for the integrity of assets. UAS with visual and thermal cameras.
Emission detection. Cameras and/or gas sensors and thermal cameras for leak inspections or emission detection campaigns.
Emergency response. Cameras for visual surveillance during emergency response and investigation assistance.
The benefits of robotics in general, and of UAS operation, are clear and new applications are being implemented on an ongoing basis in industrial and energy facilities on a constant basis. However, the simple operation is not enough and the need arises to complement the data collection with solutions adapted to each case, which is why there are a series of emerging opportunities for service providers that provide specific applications, integration between hardware and software, programming, systems integration, results panels, etc.
In short, UAS are already a mature and cost-effective solution to carry out inspection, study and surveillance activities and will constitute a catalyst for future advances. However, they will not provide a complete digital solution until they are combined with machine vision and advanced analytics tools that will ultimately help unlock the value of the data obtained, thus creating actionable information fast and applied to the needs of the clients.