Paint Inspection Company Invests in Drone Tech
Surface Corrosion Consultants (Belfast, Ireland) has recently announced its investment into unmanned aerial vehicles for monitoring and inspecting corrosion for its clients across the United Kingdom and much of Europe.
Recently, the technology has shown more popularity as the preferred technique for coating inspections across a wide range of sectors including oil and gas, construction, renewables, marine, industrial, transportation and other forms of infrastructure.
This uptick can be mostly attributed to the UAV’s capabilities in that it is the safest alternative to any manned inspection survey method and using them on an asset reduces the risks associated with human surveying as inspectors are removed from potentially dangerous and hostile conditions such as height, weather and radiation.
Additional benefits of UAV inspections include cost savings as the surveys can be carried out whilst an asset is still operational reducing any costs associated with isolating an area or shutting down an entire asset. Further cost savings are achieved as companies no longer require a manual process such as rope access technicians, mobile elevating work platforms or scaffolds.
In addition, the ability to place a UAV anywhere goes beyond any other method of inspection.
“UAV services relating to the inspection sector has seen huge advancement in recent times as companies begin to understand the benefits of incorporating UAV inspection into their maintenance and repair budgets,” said Surface Technical Director Rab Grainger.
“UAV inspection reduces days, weeks and sometimes months of planning associated with the logistics of shutdowns and manned inspections,” continued Rab. “Surface inspectors have years of experience in the Coating Industry which means we know what to look out for and we can implement a real plan to support the next steps to protecting an asset.”
The new service, Surface reports, will be combined with the company’s in-house digital solution, Surface Asset Management, which digitally streamlines all aspects of coating and NDT inspection to simplify the surface asset management process. SAM can also generate immediate survey reports as the UAV is in mid-flight, removing the need for manual data input.
According to the company, the new service will offer long-term solutions such as reduced overheads and operations costs, as well as a host of health and safety benefits compared with the traditional manual inspection survey methods.
Just last month, the company reported that it had four of its AMPP-qualified coating surveyors take part in GVC UAV Training Certification, all of whom passed with flying colors. The CAA-approved GVC course – General Visual Line of Sight Certificate was delivered by Heliguy and consisted of three parts: theory examination, a practical flight assessment, and the completion of an Operations Manual.
“It was a hugely beneficial course for all four of us to attend. The technicality and precision required with flying a drone was like nothing I have ever experienced before. The training came with its challenges, but it was great that we all passed come the final day of training,” said Robert Dalzell, Project Director at Surface. “I look forward to seeing how we can, in the not-too-distant future introduce this niche within what we already do at Surface. Thanks must go to Jack Sharp from Heliguy.”
Sharp echoed the team’s success at the course, saying, “It was a great week’s training, and all the candidates worked hard over their three days of practical training. The Surface teamed showed a great interest in all aspects of Unmanned aircraft operations and asked questions regularly. They all were successful and passed their GVC flight assessments.
“On the fourth day of training, I showed the gentlemen what the DJI Matrice 300 could really do. We covered both the photography and thermography lessons, and I do not doubt that they will use this machine to its full potential in future operations with the knowledge and training they gained.”
In upcoming inspections, Surface plans to use the UAV technology to inspect assets, both onshore and offshore, with the use of onboard cameras, acting as an inspectors’ eyes in high resolution, 4K imagery.