The problem is that many of the inspections that need to take place, such as inside boilers or underneath and at the tops of a bridge, are difficult and dangerous to access, requiring special safety equipment and a team who can be there if there is an accident. Instead of dealing with the challenges of a manned inspection, we can send a drone to get clear 360-degree assessments remotely, then zero in for granular inspections where indicated. For example, around the outside of a support beam or cement pour to check for movement, cracks or other problems.
When the data is recorded, the inspector can then take the data and review it in comprehensive detail.
Why Choose Drone Inspections for Your Project
If you’re considering continuing with manned inspections or making the transition to drone inspections, let’s look at the benefits of using a drone.
The leading reason is safety. Often, inspectors must climb hundreds of feet in the air or face hazardous conditions in compact spaces in order to do a step-by-step visual inspection where a fall could be fatal. A drone accesses the difficult locations as well as checks the integrity of the structure itself, so if repairs or physical maintenance is needed, they can see if it’s safe to climb or if they need additional equipment before starting.
Drone inspection is more cost-effective than using ground crews or traditional aviation methods such as surveying land via helicopter. An overwhelming majority of inspections are completed without the need for further action, like maintenance or repairs. So, minimizing the use of expensive safety equipment or spending hours and thousands of dollars in labor cost to construct a scaffolding that is unnecessary can save tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. Additionally, minimizing the need to work in dangerous conditions can reduce liability insurance costs, again, saving thousands of dollars a year for your company.
Also, in addition to the outgoing costs of labor and equipment for safety, scaffolding, and insurance, consider the costs of downtime that come from having to shut down certain equipment before an inspection. Using a drone allows the inspection to be completed more quickly, minimizing the downtime and ensuing costs of it.
With recorded drone footage, you can see changes in a structure or piece of equipment over time. For example, if there’s a concern, such as a crack in cement that doesn’t need a repair but you want to keep an eye on, you can compare previous data to current data to see if the crack has grown or changed over time. Additionally, this can minimize liability in the event of an accident or issue with a previously inspected equipment or item.
Beyond Visual Inspections
Not everything can be inspected visually. Thermal, multi-spectral and topographical views from drone imaging support a variety of advanced inspection tasks. Drones that are equipped with thermal imaging cameras can detect differences in temperature which may indicate surface degradation, cracks, and/or other flaws.
Faster Project Life Cycle
Across the entire project life cycle – from requirements to final sign off – drone aerial imaging makes it possible to keep projects on track and on budget and to expose issues before they create hazards or delays. Additionally, drone inspections simplify the compliance documentation and the reporting aspects of a project.
When used for inspections, drones are a powerful tool in a civil construction professional’s toolbox. Drones for industrial inspection save money, protect workers, and help safely speed projects to completion.
Industries Using Aerial Inspections
Any industry that has hard-to-reach spaces that require inspection are turning to drones to complete them. We’re seeking them primarily in the following industries:
- Agriculture to monitor health and wellbeing of both crops and livestock and look for concerns in land conditions;
- Chemical industries to ensure storage containers, heat exchangers, pressure vessels, and other assets are in good repair;
- Infrastructure to determine the structural integrity of bridges, water towers, and other structures;
- Utilities and power companies;
- Mining to determine structural integrity of the underground space after large veins of ore have been extracted.