For many, the idea of an industrial drone performing inspections conjures up an image of a high-flying UAV soaring over a pipeline or other far-flung infrastructure. Which makes sense. The time and money organizations can save by using drones for long-range inspections is immense.
However, industries around the world would be remiss to ignore the potential benefits of performing confined space inspections with automated industrial drones. When it comes to safety, cost and emergency response, there is no better confined space inspection option than automated drone inspection.
Confined spaces in industrial settings sound as dangerous as they are. These spaces are often plagued by a lack of oxygen, air that is of a poor quality, toxic or caustic liquids and gases, difficult entry and exit, electrical setups that pose hazards, or large quantities of granular solids and/or free-flowing liquids. This means that when humans inspect these spaces, they are one mistake or malfunction away from exposure to toxic chemicals and gas, exposure to extreme temperatures, running out of oxygen, becoming stuck or even being crushed.
Technology has evolved to a point where there is no reason for human employees to be subjected to the potential risks of confined spaces for the sake of inspections. Automated industrial drones are built to undertake these inspections while keeping human inspectors far from these spaces and their serious associated risks.
Confined space inspections are costly for two main reasons. The first is the operational downtime often required for human inspectors to enter the confined spaces they are inspecting. The second is the specialized equipment required for those inspections, which can include breathing aids, protective suits, scaffolding, cables and ropes. All in all, these inspections are dangerous, onerous and expensive.
Since automated industrial drones don’t require the protections that people do, confined space inspections can be undertaken without any of the industrial shutdowns that would otherwise be required. Not only does this keep productivity high, but it also allows organizations to compete confined space inspections more frequently, making it possible to spot emerging issues and have them dealt with before they can impact production or – worse – contribute to a problem or full-on incident.
Immediate Emergency Response
Speaking of incidents. The main downfall of industrial drones used to be the time it took to get them flying. This was because in order for an industrial drone to operate, a drone pilot needed to be present. As it simply wasn’t cost-efficient to have a drone pilot available to immediately launch a drone at any hour of the day, industrial drones tended to not be available for use in an in-demand capacity or in response to emergencies. For confined spaces, this was a major problem. Sending human employees into confined spaces in response to potential incidents or emergencies was to subject them to almost unfathomable risks.
This is why automation is such a necessity for industrial UAVs. With the ability to launch, fly, collect and transmit live data and land automatically, no pilot or operator necessary, automated industrial drones represent the ultimate confined space emergency response solution. Leading automated drones are even able to perform their own maintenance, equipping themselves with charged batteries and necessary sensors and payloads so they’re always ready to fly at a moment’s notice. This is crucial as the difference between a potential problem and a full-on catastrophe can be a matter of seconds in an industrial setting, particularly in a confined space.
With the quick response capabilities of automated industrial drones, emergency response in industrial settings has been revolutionized. There is currently no better way to provide unlimited aerial awareness on an emerging situation to first responders, technicians, engineers and other essential personnel.
Flying (not so) high
Automated industrial drones are impacting operations across a huge number of industries and they’re doing so in both outdoor and indoor settings. While the stereotypical image of a drone may be of one soaring across a clear blue sky, many industrial organizations know they provide just as much value flying indoors and, more specifically, into the confined and risky spaces that human inspectors have been sent into for far too long.
For confined spaces, there simply is no better inspection solution.