Drone Inspections of Critical Assets
The Safer, Faster and Cheaper Way to Inspect Critical Assets
Drone inspections are revolutionising industrial asset management, especially in remote, dangerous and hard to reach locations. There is a growing realisation in industry that:
“You can’t maintain it properly if you can’t see it properly!”
Traditional methods of conducting infrastructure inspections in difficult and challenging locations typically involve helicopters, cranes, scissor lifts and other expensive equipment, or sending your staff into dangerous areas where the risk of accidents is high. These inspections represent a significant proportion of annual operating costs which can be streamlined using aerial asset management inspections. They are also arguably the most risk-prone activities your business undertakes. But it doesn’t need to be that way.
Drone inspections remove most of the complexity and safety risks from critical asset inspections. Aerial inspection using drones is faster, much safer and more economical, without compromising the outcomes. Queensland Drones provides aerial drone infrastructure inspection services for energy companies, telecommunications companies, water supply companies, forestry companies, local governments and anyone who needs safe, fast inspection of critical infrastructure and assets in difficult locations.
Solar Farm and Solar Panel Drone Inspections
Australia’s investment in solar and renewable energy is growing exponentially. Traditional ground based methods of solar array inspection can no longer keep up with the number of installations and their increasingly remote location. Aerial asset inspection of solar infrastructure saves time and money and reduces the risk to personnel in difficult environments.
Queensland Drones delivers high resolution visual and thermal inspection of solar arrays to identify three major common issues:
(1) Panel faults – hot spots and deterioration in individual panels of a solar array which can cause reduction in output of the entire array segment. These include shattered or dirty panels, diode faults, panel coating or fogging problems and overheating of junction boxes.
(2) String and array faults – issues affecting an entire array including an offline string, faulty wiring, charge controller failures, inverter faults and blown fuses.
(3) Ground management issues – invasive weeds, ground cover variations and ground transit safety issues across the solar farm.
Our aerial solar farm inspections include a summary report of all defects identified, defect types, number of defects and their precise locations. Detail reporting allows maintenance teams to rapidly locate and isolate strings or modules requiring maintenance. Detailed imagery can be used to determine specific maintenance actions and to brief maintenance personnel before they travel to the solar farm.
Dam, Reservoir and Water Infrastructure Inspection
The image above shows the spillway of a water supply reservoir supplying critical drinking water to a residential area. Inspections like this can reveal cracking of the concrete, shifting of spillway sections due to ground movement, chipping of the surface that could compromise structural integrity, degradation of the spillway surface and encroachment from invasive weeds that could crack or damage the concrete if left untreated. An aerial asset inspection of this kind would normally involve two flights, one to capture high resolution vertical still images which are then stitched into a single large format image for closer inspection, the second to capture forward-facing high definition video footage to inspect any detected issues more closely.
In the above image, our inspection detected gaps in the dam wall that had been invaded by tree saplings which could eventually crack the dam wall. Comparison images taken over time can also reveal progressive issues that may not be detected in a single inspection and build up a history of inspections in case of audit or investigation.
All the images in the inspection are spatially tagged with GPS data and the large format stitched image can be converted to a GPS-tagged GeoTIFF format which can be loaded into an iPad or other tablet device and used to precisely locate areas requiring manual inspection or treatment. Where additional precision is required, Queensland Drones can use Geo-referenced Ground Control Points to position imagery and maps in 3-dimensional space to an accuracy of <1cm horizontal and <2cm vertical.
Powerline and Transmission Tower Drone Inspections
Queensland Drones aerial asset inspections for energy infrastructure provide imagery previously only obtainable using expensive helicopter inspections or large crane platforms which place staff at risk of injury and death.
Our aerial imaging platforms can provide continuous imaging of high voltage distribution systems over distances of up to 3 km per flight, with both vertical and oblique images which can be stitched into single contiguous high resolution large format photographs or 3d orthographic models. Where an issue is detected, we can provide stable, high resolution close-up images of the affected area.
We can also provide thermal imaging to identify and quantify hot-spots that may develop into fire risks. Using PLS-CADD analysis techniques provided by our experienced processing partner, our Lidar asset inspection imagery can identify vegetation and wind risks earlier and better than traditional inspections.
Aerial imaging of power infrastructure is much faster and safer than manual inspections, reducing or eliminating the risk of personnel working at heights in most cases. Aerial inspection is also faster than traditional methods, with greatly reduced setup costs and efficient resource use.
The accumulated data over multiple inspection periods can provide a consistent, reliable and unbiased record of inspections and the status of critical assets which is invaluable for governance, audit and investigation activities.
Our Job Safety and SWMS Systems
Our job safety assessment system ensures that all our operations are conducted for maximum safety and minimum risk. Anyone can fly a drone and capture images (and some of those will be ok), but we take the time to ensure that all our work is completed safely and with minimum impact on your staff or operations.
We are CASA-certified and fully insured. To find out more about how our Aerial Asset Inspection Services can help you to better achieve your asset management outcomes, call us on the number below or use one of the other links to request a callback, usually within one working day.
Request a Quote or Callback
Phone Tony on 1300 677 183 to discuss your requirements or complete the form below and we’ll call you back.