The energy sector has many assets such as steam generators, stacks, transformers and other plant that require regular inspections.
By using drones in preliminary inspections, workers are less exposed to risks and site safety is enhanced. The possibility of carrying out legally required periodic checks non-invasively – without the need for internal inspections by plant officials or maintenance workers – is of vital importance. In this way, we can reduce worker exposure in confined areas and thus also reduce health, safety and environment (HSE) risks, as required by Italian law.
Considering the height at which inspection points are located, around 10 metres above ground for steam generators and 20 metres for stacks, inspection in both cases requires the installation of scaffolding, with workers in a confined space and at a considerable height. With drones, on the other hand, the heights, confined spaces and everything that is difficult or dangerous to reach become simple and safe.
Drones have proved to be very advantageous from an economic point of view too, making it possible to reduce costs by not having to use scaffolding or other machinery, at least in the initial phase of inspections. The operations that we have developed, concerning the opening of inspection or access panels, the installation of scaffolding, preparation for pressing, machine support for forced ventilation, mean that we move on to more costly activities only where a breakage has been ascertained.
Utilizing this technology enables us to take action more quickly, minimizing further the number of days of production downtime.
Drones also make it possible to perform more thorough and accurate monitoring (also with the use of topographic software), as well as offering the possibility of taking material samples by means of non-destructive testing (NDT) alongside visual inspection.
of points that can be inspected with a suitable quality for visual checks; both details and brightness turned out to be better than expected.
of operations performed outside confined spaces: this percentage could increase further with the use of 3D models in support of the pilot and of self-guidance.
reduction in inspection times: ten working days of traditional inspection correspond to four days with the use of drones.
reduction in costs: costs of 45,000-50,000 euros with traditional inspection methods correspond to 4,000-7,000 euros with the use of drones.