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Indoor drone inspections made safer and faster

July 28, 2017  - By

A manufacturer of refinery infrastructure was about to finish the assembly of a radiant box when a thumbnail-size notch was noticed in one of the pipes just before it was to be installed. The radiant box facility is used in the process of refining hydrogen under very high temperature (1,300 to 2,000°F) and pressure (45 to 360 psi).

The Elios by Flyability is a collision tolerant drone.

The notch was noticed near the end of the assembly process of the 144 40-foot-high vertical pipes composing the radiant box. The refinery owner insisted that each of the installed pipes be inspected thoroughly before moving to the final stages of testing and firing up the radiant box.

The refinery manufacturer faced a difficult problem. Made of a particular heat-resistant alloy containing 30 percent chrome, the pipes need careful treatment — contact with another alloy could damage them, which made use of scaffolding impractical. Instead, the customer turned to Industrial SkyWorks and its indoor inspection drone, Elios by Flyability.

The complexity of the location, the large number of pipes, and the fact that they could easily be mixed up required a meticulous work approach by Industrial SkyWorks. The two-man UAV crew set up a charging station just outside the building. Four flights were needed per pipe to ensure complete coverage. Using the onboard lights of the Elios, the UAV flew to the top of each pipe and descended slowly, recording video.

The Elios drone flew continuously for nearly five days in a dry and dusty environment, imaging both sides of each pipe. Once finished, the crew presented high-resolution video of each pipe to the satisfied client.
Resulting savings are estimated at 75 percent for cost and 85 percent for time, the company said. For instance, using a UAV avoided the need for workers to work at height with the associated safety procedures.

Photo courtesy of Flyability.