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Tank Inspections Using A Drone

Traditional inspection of these enclosed spaces is a laborious, expensive and poses many potential hazards.
Elios 2 in Action - Entering a manhole against the light

Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS), or drones, offer a very real solution for the inspection of confined areas, such as tanks. Traditional inspection of these enclosed spaces is a laborious, expensive and poses many potential hazards. In line with local regulations, most tanks are inspected every 5 to 10 years, and inspection brings with it significant downtime, planning and safety regulations. The use of a drone revolutionises the chore, removing a large amount of disruption usually associated with such a task.

Advantage: Safety

Carrying out a tank inspection using a drone allows asset teams to closely inspect all surfaces within a tank without the need to physically enter the space. This removes the necessity to empty, flush and air the tank before humans can safely enter. It also negates the need to erect scaffolding within the tank and the risk of associated accidents, both during erection and when a team is climbing within the confined space.

Conversely, a drone can be quickly deployed to capture images and video to allow asset inspectors to view all internal spaces. This includes fitting pipes, wall and roof junctions, welding, rafters and the integrity of the fabric, without the need for workers to spend time in a highly hazardous environment.

Advantage: Cost

Shell estimate that 98% of the costs are related to HSE and preparation, only 2% to the inspection itself. By removing the need for staging, scaffolding, downtime and the time is taken for humans to enter confined spaces leads to a cost reduction that amounts to hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Advantage: Speed

Traditional tank inspection takes days to implement. Tank inspections carried out by a drone can take as little as two hours.

Advantage: Ease of Use

Depending on the type of UAS used there is often no need for the operator to have a professional pilot’s licence. Drones such as The Elios are enclosed in a decoupled cage that allows it to absorb collisions and bounce and roll on surfaces. They are easily used with minimal training, allowing asset inspectors to easily deploy and carry out all aspects of the surveillance.

Advantage: Proactive Planning

Thanks to the dramatically lowered costs of drone inspection, along with the speed at which surveillance can be delivered, it is possible to carry out checks on a far more regular basis. This allows assets to be proactively assessed for weaknesses that could cause future potential issues. Not only is this cost-effective, but it prevents the likelihood of emergency incidents.

Drone Inspection of Tanks Offers Superior Visualisation

Because of the ability of a drone to view internal surfaces and structures from all angles, it allows for superior imaging, and the capacity to provide a close up of regions not possible to view by the human eye. They can be flown beyond the line visual line of sight (BVLOS) and advanced software allows for the production of detailed inspection reports from the data collected. Images and video are captured by high definition cameras that can be fully inclined and rotated to ensure views of even the hardest to access areas.

Nexxis is a solution-focused provider that brings the latest in technological advances to industries across Australia. Based in Perth, our core business is an extensive range of inspection, testing and measuring equipment for the oil and gas, chemical, mining and manufacturing industries, to name a few. Drone technology offers very real solutions in many areas, including that of tank inspections. To discuss how this and other cutting edge technology could reduce your overheads, increase profits, and have a truly positive effect on worker safety, contact us now.

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