It was quite recently that American Petroleum Institute (API) Midstream Director Robin Rorick thanked the Senate and the House for adopting the UAS (Unmanned Aircraft Systems) provision adopted through Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization Act of 2017 Title II, Subtitle A—Unmanned Aircraft Systems Reform. The API representative acknowledged that inspection drones make available to operators a sophisticated tool that will help the industry achieve its goal of zero incidents. His words are reproduced below:
“Safety is our core value, and the best way to protect the public and the environment is to prevent incidents from ever happening,” said Rorick. “Drone technology will complement the comprehensive safety practices that the industry has in place to ensure that all Americans continue to enjoy the affordable, reliable fuels they depend on.
“The ability to use drones will allow the industry to use the latest technologies to continue to effectively monitor infrastructure and facilities while minimizing the risk to personnel.”
This Act became the law in 2017 after signing by the President and thus allowed unmanned aircraft system (UAS) utilization for oil and gas facilities, refineries, pipeline inspection, and response activities. Inspection drones are today behaving like a scalable technology that are not only transforming the businesses of high value asset inspection but can also be expected to transform the entire businesses / operations related to large infrastructure projects, especially in energy sector (oil & gas, renewable, power plants, petrochemical plants etc), where sustainability and asset management is considered to be part and parcel of energy delivery - the core function of Energy Sector Organizations.
Drone technology and related data analysis software have been moving from infancy to maturity at a remarkable pace and this indicates an inevitable transformation in the process of asset management. There are professionals in the industry who very rightly envision a day when offshore platforms (wind turbines, oil rigs, production platforms, etc) have hangers for a drone and the drone shall be programmed to fly around the asset facilities at set intervals (perhaps daily, monthly or quarterly) to capture data and then transmit the anomalous conditions to the control room for analysis — least human intervention envisaged and thus minimized safety issues, concerns or incidents.
The equally important aspect of drone inspection technology to transform asset management is to create new standards that can apply in facilitation of drone inspection and bench marks to avoid non-qualified players to adversely affect this business sector performance. In this regards, equally important is the aspect that the drone inspection team which is deployed for inspection should be conversant with guidelines provided by relevant publications of API, IEC, ISO, NFPA, BS, ASME, CSA, ASTM and the like. Additionally for oil & gas assets, the products that are handled are inflammable which require adherence to Compliance Standards, Regulatory requirements and Security SOPs. It is therefore imperative that the selection of inspection partner for drone inspection of high-value energy assets should be carried out based on due diligence in the light of criteria stated in this article.
Industrial Skyworks – Endeavors to Transform Asset Management with Minimized Risk to Personnel
Industrial Skyworks entered the drone inspection market with a crystal clear vision of maximizing the benefit of this remarkable technology for their client and to support the industry in mimizing the risk to operations personnel. With its continued endeavors and collaboration with valued partners Industrial Skyworks has successfully achieved development of BlueVu software which is capable to fulfill the requirements of periodic and reliability centered maintenance planning.
BlueVu easily handles the large numbers of thermal graphs and visual images, gathered during the inspection process, through its internal image optimization engine. BlueVu is capable to implement machine learning through input data from drone and provides output reports in a fast and accurate manner thus providing necessary intelligence on asset integrity. The reports generated by BlueVu allow timely and informed decisions to be made regarding impending failure situation or determination of remedial priorities through maintenance planning. BlueVu thus ensures faster, better and most critical insight on key aspects of the high-value energy asset requiring action.
The team at Industrial Skyworks firmly believes that the days of putting new technology on the market and letting it take off on itself are over. Industrial Skyworks team shows the solutions for the painful issues of its valued clients through a planned process of inspection and reporting through a team of qualified inspectors and drone pilots. Our inspection process highlights are provided below:
- Understanding the problem and inspection needs of the client
- Planning the inspection process to minimize cost and eliminating the possibility of error.
- Planning for safe inspection procedure, compliance to standards and implementing procedures under possibility of environmental hazards.
- Capturing all the required data and using it to find insights that can help the client in decision making process.
- Standardizing the data collection process and making sure that that the quality of the data is the same every time. Our systems capture defects better than what is possible through human eyes.
- Delivering a report the client that discusses the entire process of inspection, identified problems and possible solutions or remedial measures required to be implemented. Our recommendations are open to discussion with clients for appropriate implementation.
- Follow up inspection and testing actions are also suggested where appropriate.
Industrial Skyworks is also continuously interacting with people in the energy industry as they all have a different understanding of “what a damage is” and which damage is important. Industrial Skyworks supports of building of consensus in the form of some developed standards – which, unfortunately, are not there at the moment. Industrial Skyworks is confident that once humans have agreed on the correct classification of a problem, then it is much easier for the computers to interpret drone vision and apply machine learning aspects.