As infrastructure ages it must be regularly inspected to detect issues as early as possible. However, asset inspection is traditionally a labour intensive, high-risk task. The necessity for tools such as cherry pickers, cranes and helicopters can also serve as a large cost to the operation. Mining, power and utility companies often need to employ an asset inspection service, and have recently been turning to Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) to reduce costs, safety concerns and time while providing a highly accurate and detailed inspection.
UAVs can be equipped with high-resolution cameras to provide quality videos and stills, as well as thermal imaging sensors to provide information that cameras alone cannot.
In the utility industry, Melbourne Water have been recently trialing UAV technology to inspect Thomson Spillway for issues such as cracking, shifting, chipping and surface degradation.
The above image of the spillway shows the detail that can be found with a simple flyover shot. The shot, which would have taken only minutes, details cracks, gaps between panels, erosion and weed encroachment, which can then be immediately dealt with. Details such as this would have been extremely difficult to find with traditional inspection methods, incurring either a large safety risk or high costs.
Asset inspection can also be utilized within the mining and oil and gas industries.
Live asset inspection using UAVs in these typically higher-risk industries allows for engineers to monitor the infrastructure through all stages of the inspection, while maintaining a safe distance from possible hazards. It also allows for the appropriate measures to be sought as soon as a potential problem is identified. Thermal imagery can also be used to detect issues not visible with a standard camera, such as leaks or spills.
By using UAV technology, an archive of footage and images can be created which allows for a comparison of assets over time.
Using drones for inspections has a plethora of clear advantages over traditional methods. It saves businesses time and money, and most importantly, ensures the safety of employees.
Have a read through one of our other blogs: Why drone aerial photography is coming to construction sites to find out about how UAVs can be valuable in construction as well.
Thinking about using UAVs to inspect your assets? Swarm UAV offers a range of UAV services including asset inspection so get in touch with any of your enquiries – http://aerial.swarmuav.com.au/contact-us.
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