Inspectioneering
Inspectioneering Journal

Drones for Visual Testing & Inspection

By Jason C. Shankle at United Dynamics Corporation. This article appears in the January/February 2014 issue of Inspectioneering Journal

Introduction

UAS (Unmanned Arial System) drone technology has numerous applications, including anything at elevated heights or where human access and/or occupancy are prohibited, or in the case of confined spaces, limited. These applications include stacks, flares, cooling towers, bridges, cell phone towers, wind turbines, aerial land surveys, and inside the furnace of a boiler, just to name a few.

Serving as a large utility boiler inspector for the last 15 years and speaking for those in a similar capacity regardless of the industry, how many times have we all said the familiar phrase and placed the request to our clients: “Provide access for further inspection”? For me personally, too many times; and I have longed for an effective, cost sensitive solution.

For example, let’s say you are looking at a component or piece of equipment that is 40’ high and you are conducting this inspection from what would be considered the ground elevation. How can one actually perform a thorough inspection without proper access to upper elevations? Or, you see something that is 40’ above your head which you deem to be a point of interest but you cannot get close enough to validate your discovery. What are your options from this point forward?

These are all relevant questions and scenarios that inspectors dread. At one time or another, we as inspectors have all been victim to such dilemmas. However, through the use of a UAS (Unmanned Arial System), more commonly referred to as a drone, we are now able to access these areas for an up-close and personal look. By utilizing drones, these “from a distance” discoveries can be validated without the use and/or cost associated with traditional methods such as scaffold erection, sky-climbers, or rappelling.

Figure 1. Two technicians, multi-rotor drone unit, and ground station & controls system.Figure 1. Two technicians, multi-rotor drone unit, and ground station & controls system.

As of late, drones, more specifically the helicopter-type, have gained significant publicity. Applied on a higher and more sophisticated scale, this technology lends itself as the ideal platform for a device which can support visual inspections with pinpoint accuracy and high definition clarity. As concluded by our studies and extensive testing, the energy industry benefits most from a helicopter-type drone of multi-rotor design.

This content is available to registered users and subscribers

Register today to unlock this article for free.

Create your free account and get access to:

  • Unlock one premium article of your choosing per month
  • Exclusive online content, videos, and downloads
  • Insightful and actionable webinars
GET STARTED
Interested in unlimited access? VIEW OUR SUBSCRIPTION OPTIONS

Current subscribers and registered users can log in now.


Comments and Discussion

Posted by Rajaram Chidambaram on April 10, 2014
Can you provide the name of the company providing... Log in or register to read the rest of this comment.

(Inspectioneering) Posted by Jeremiah Wooten on April 11, 2014
Hello Rajaram, The company responsible for... Log in or register to read the rest of this comment.

Add a Comment

Please log in or register to participate in comments and discussions.


Inspectioneering Journal

Explore over 20 years of articles written by our team of subject matter experts.

Company Directory

Find relevant products, services, and technologies.

Job Postings

Discover job opportunities that match your skillset.

Case Studies

Learn from the experience of others in the industry.

Event Calendar

Find upcoming conferences, training sessions, online events, and more.

Industry News

Stay up-to-date with the latest inspection and asset integrity management news.

Blog

Read short articles and insights authored by industry experts.

Asset Intelligence Reports

Download brief primers on various asset integrity management topics.

Videos

Watch educational and informative videos directly related to your profession.

Expert Interviews

Inspectioneering's archive of interviews with industry subject matter experts.