Understand the range of UAV applications to realise the benefits
27 Dec 2017
Developments in live asset UAV survey and inspection technology have been extensive over recent years, and now go far beyond close visual inspection and survey applications, says David Williams.
Getting the most out of UAV technology is all about tapping into the applications and reporting functionality. UAV inspection service companies should be anticipating the needs of process engineering professionals and helping them to achieve ever more outcomes as part of their maintenance regimes.
Process engineering professionals should be demanding greater versatility and problem-solving applications from UAV companies.
Today’s UAV applications involve the use of multiple UAV platforms with dual payloads and cameras/sensors that use a variety of high-quality, factor calibrated and interchangeable lenses that are tailored to meet varying requirements.
Thermal systems can cover everything from coupled structural thermal analysis to hot spot identification, leak detection and water ingress detection. Visual and thermal aspects can be seamlessly combined in one inspection or survey for maximum efficiency.
Quality, quantifiable data is the key principle at the heart of precision inspection
Using advanced flight control, highly detailed orthomosaics can be stitched together seamlessly using cutting-edge software systems - to allow for an overview of the specified target area - with the ability to magnify and observe the smallest details.
Accurate data, many applications
Quality, quantifiable data is the key principle at the heart of precision inspection by UAV. Texo Drone Survey and Inspection deployments are supported by a bespoke cloud portal system that allows data to be hosted by the company. The use of the portal enables the direct comparison of historical inspections and interaction with data sets, and analysis tools also generate classification by fault type.
Data gathered by UAV also includes hyperspectral imaging which collects and processes information from across the electromagnetic spectrum.
Hyperspectral imaging deals with the imaging of narrow spectral bands over a continuous spectral range, and produces the spectra of all pixels in the scene. It provides a unique spectral signature for every pixel, which can be used by processing techniques to identify hazardous materials such as asbestos for example.
Gas hazards can be detected using Optical Gas Imaging (OGI), which can quickly locate leaks accurately across a wide area and without the need for shutdowns, and UAVs with dual visual and thermal sensor systems, paired with super bright LED lighting allow for safe and highly capable in confined unlit spaces. A carbon fibre anti-collision encapsulation system is used on the UAV to allow it to come into direct contact with surfaces and maximise data quality.
Corrosion is an ever-present problem for process plant, and again UAV inspection applications are at the forefront of combating it, giving highly accurate measurements of remaining wall thickness regardless of any coatings present.
Texo DSI has recently developed a world-first integrated ultrasound thickness (UT) UAV system that can deliver a number of measurement applications and provide precise measurements on flat and curved surfaces.
Inspection data is combined with a precise photogrammetric visual overlay of the completed survey, pinpointing exact measurement locations on the structure/surface to an accuracy of sub 10mm.
Accuracy is matched by speed: such inspections are 20 times faster to complete than traditional access and measurement methods. Alternating current field measurement (ACFM), an electromagnetic technique used to detect surface breaking cracks in metallic components and welds, is also soon to be delivered
David Williams is principal compliance officer, Texo Drone Survey and Inspection Ltd