The toy everyone had on their Christmas wish list has become a technological phenomenon being used across a range of industrial sectors. That toy is the unmanned aerial vehicle—more commonly known as a drone. As the drone’s number of uses grows, so does users’ knowledge thanks to the highly sensitive detection methods they employ.
One of the more recent successful drone ventures is its deployment in the energy industry. Drones are being used predominantly for inspections over large sites, which they can do quickly, cost effectively, and accurately. The images drones acquire can be used to spot potential infrastructure problems, and the cost is “roughly 80% less that traditional inspections,” according to a story published by The New York Times, which considered work conducted for offshore platforms, oilrigs, and other sites.
However, despite the reported success, some people still question the technology’s usefulness. They doubt that the cost of developing in-house skills to take advantage of the new tool can be cost effective.
“The relentless energy behind drone sector growth continues, but there is a change in focus taking place—a shift away from product and towards service—in particular towards specialist commercial drone operations,” said Ben Gorham, director at Sky Revolutions, a drone-led construction company.
How are drones saving all this money? Well, it starts from the very beginning of a project and carries on right through to site servicing, whether it’s solar panels or wind farms. When a company decides to develop a new site, the investment can be large, and then the clock starts ticking. Time is money.
Drones can be used to significantly cut down the amount of time a site assessment takes. They can very quickly provide high-resolution imagery, with plenty of detail for a site manager to consider. Some estimates suggest that about 90% of the time it takes to carry out an assessment can be cut, which is a cost savings.
From the high-quality imagery that drones pick up and load directly onto a storage Cloud, site managers can establish material quantities, manpower needs, and safety assessments, all of which contribute massively to the overall project plan. Once the solar power systems are in place, drones can be used with heat sensor technology to pick up faults, which can save a lot of headaches too.
Drones are helping the energy sector by providing accurate information that helps cut costs and time. If your company isn’t using drones yet, what are you waiting for?
—Louise Wood is a freelance writer.