ntil now, monitoring areas of industrial facilities that are hard to access, such as an oil rig’s flare tower, called for either complex scaffolding or industrial climbers to carry out the inspections under arduous conditions. Checking the rotor blades of a wind turbine was also a challenge. Now, the specialists at Bilfinger Salamis UK do this work with the help of drones. Teams of two wrap the job up in a matter of minutes – and in complete safety.
The drone pilots are seasoned employees who know the ropes when it comes to maintenance work. Bilfinger employs the Falcon 8 drone, which has a proven track record offshore and is technically robust. Even if two of the eight rotors fail, it can still fly. Equipped with high-resolution digital or infrared, thermal-imaging cameras, the drones make it possible to detect even the tiniest thermal leaks in seals, gas pipes or insulation from a great distance. It is not just at sea that drones are used to monitor hard-to-access plant components. On land, too, they are a great solution for telecommunications towers, high-voltage lines and much more.
When it comes to inspecting boilers, tanks and other virtually inaccessible containers, a special type of drone is deployed – the Elios from Swiss manufacturer Flyability. The protective cage that surrounds it makes it impervious to bumps against the inside of a container. Additionally, this drone can roll as well as fly. Besides an optical and a thermal camera, the Elios features an extremely powerful lighting system, allowing it to operate in complete darkness.