Inspection and Maintenance with Drones
The usual inspection and maintenance methods are generally time-consuming and are often fraught with risk.
By using drones, territory that is difficult to reach or spread over a wide area can be inspected most efficiently without risk to personnel. The information gathered is recorded live and is securely documented.
The number of wind farms has increased enormously in recent years.
The rotor blades in particular are exposed to enormous strain and are damaged by erosion as well as lightning strikes. The diameter of the rotors is generally about 100 m and this makes for costly routine or impromptu inspections, damage assessment and repair planning.
Using drones, an inspection can be carried out quickly, simply and at low cost.
Proper surveillance needs to be maintained to guarantee security.
Any damage needs to be detected early enough to avoid outages or to reduce the duration of any outages that do occur.
The use of drones, often supported by thermal imaging cameras helps save both time and costs. This enables leaks to be identified and located, and the condition of pipework systems in inaccessible areas can be rapidly checked.
An ideal area of use for autonomous air vehicles. Fitted with thermal imaging cameras, “hot spots” can be rapidly identified. Soiling or damage to the modules, for instance, is easily identified with RGB cameras.
Because these installations are usually spread over a large area, long-range UAVs/drones are particularly well-suited for inspecting pipelines. The systems of choice are often petrol/diesel-powered drones or wide-area drones (fixed wing UAVs).
High-tension power lines
Both masts and cables are constantly put under strain from the weather and other external influences. Regular inspection is therefore unavoidable and, if there is damage, a great deal of time can be lost when using conventional methods. The use of drones enables rapid checks to be carried out following lightning strikes, mud slides and power outages. However, unmanned aerial vehicles are also often used to carry out general inspections of insulators and to detect birds’ nests, since this is efficient and avoids risk to personnel as well as the need to switch off the power to the cables.
Bridges and dams
Conventional methods of inspection are mostly very costly and fraught with risk.
Inaccessible areas can be safely inspected using drones and with a high degree of efficiency.
Compared with manned helicopters, the inspection of drilling rigs and oil platforms using drones is significantly cheaper and in comparison to inspection carried out by humans, poses no risk to life or limb.
Buildings/structures (churches, towers, chimneys, transmitters)
The façades and structures of buildings are affected by external influences (erosion, weather, etc.), which can lead to damage. Industrial climbers or other costly and risky methods are often used to carry out inspections.
Using UAVs, such damage and alterations are fully documented, both inside and out, to provide a sound basis for targeted remedial action.
Nuclear power stations
For routine inspections, drones equipped with the appropriate sensors provide valuable insight. When incidents occur, UAVs flying autonomously can carry out long-range radiation measurements and provide life-saving data.