Building & Asset Inspection

Drone Inspections 

These days, drone inspections are being performed in almost every industry that requires visual inspections as part of its maintenance procedures. By using a drone to collect visual data on the condition of an asset or building, drone inspections help inspectors avoid having to place themselves in dangerous situations.

Some of the benefits are:

  • Reduced risk. Inspector no longer has to be put into potentially dangerous situations.
  • Savings—temporary structures. Savings as a result of not needing to build scaffolding or other temporary, one-use infrastructure to support a manual inspection (as applicable—not all inspection scenarios require scaffolding).
  • Savings—downtime. For assets like nuclear power plants or pressure vessels, which need to be shut off before an inspection can be performed, every second of downtime means a loss of revenue. Using a drone to make turnarounds more efficient can mean big savings for companies that use these assets in their operations.
  • Savings—liability insurance. By significantly reducing the amount of time personnel is placed in dangerous situations companies can reduce their corresponding insurance costs.
  • Increased safety through increased inspections. Given the relatively low cost of drone inspections, many companies are using them to perform inspections more regularly, which means that potential problems can be surfaced and addressed more quickly.
  • Better records. Drone data represents a meticulous record of the condition of an asset over time. By archiving visual data, companies have a digital footprint of the asset’s life history that can be accessed at any time.

In many instances, a drone inspection will be a visual inspection, with the drone’s camera acting as an inspectors eyes on site or with a drone operator recording and collecting viual data for an inspector to review later. 

When inspecting a cell phone tower, for example, an inspector will climb the entire tower looking for areas that might need maintenance or scaffolding must be built on the side of a building to conduct roof inspections. For indoor inspections, such as those performed inside boilers or even mines, inspectors must build scaffolding so they can climb up the sides of the boiler, visually reviewing every square inch as they go.

But visual inspections aren’t just about saving  time and money. They’re also about saving lives.

While it’s true that most drone inspections are visual inspections, drones can also be equipped with special sensors that allow them to perform other kinds of inspections. Basically, any kind of sensor that can fit on a drone can be used for an inspection

For example, in agriculture drones are being fitted with multispectral sensors so that farmers can record images of crops in distinct spectral bands. Thermal inspections are also another aspect for detecting heatloss on buildings and inspecting damage on solar panel. The possibilites are almost endless for drone inspection! 

Building scaffolding also takes time. When conducting inspections manually, often a full day is required for constructing scaffolding and then a full day for taking it down, which means dozens of hours of downtime for the asset being inspected. In many cases, that downtime equals a significant loss of potential revenue for the company.