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Different Industries Utilizing Drones for Inspection Applications

Drones are becoming a popular alternative to traditional methods of inspection as they offer a safer, faster, and more efficient solution for monitoring the health and performance of these assets. Other benefits include cost savings, increased safety, and improved efficiency across the following industries:

Oil and Gas Infrastructure

Oil and gas infrastructure is generally inspected using a combination of manual inspection techniques and specialized tools and equipment. Inspectors physically visit the site and visually inspect the equipment, pipelines, and facilities for signs of wear and damage. Moreover, nondestructive testing (NDT) methods, such as ultrasonic testing, magnetic particle inspection, and radiographic testing are used to inspect pipelines and equipment for structural integrity and potential defects. 


While these methods are effective, they can be extremely time-consuming and pose high safety risks to inspectors as they need to physically climb the infrastructure at times. For this reason, confined space drones such as the Flybotix ASIO are increasingly being used to perform inspection methods and provide a safer, more efficient way to inspect oil and gas infrastructure. 


Due to the complexity and danger oil & gas assets may pose, a drone that can provide advance obstacle repulsion and collision resistant capabilities is ideal for inspecting this type of infrastructure. For example, Flybotix ASIO is capable to capture detailed images and videos in any environment as it is specially designed for tight places thanks to its protective cage. The inspection drone features over 10K lumens of light and a high-resolution thermal IR and RGB camera, and enables teams to gather up to 24 minutes of data per flight.

The DJI M300 RTK is an extremely popular drone used by oil and gas companies due to its durability and flexibility to carry different payloads that support a variety of tasks. The M300 has an industry-leading 55-Min max flight time, advanced AI capabilities, 6 Directional Sensing & Positioning and more.


Some real-life examples of oil and gas companies using the DJI M300 RTK include:


ConocoPhillips: ConocoPhillips, an American multinational energy corporation, has adopted DJI M300 RTK drones to survey pipelines and production facilities in remote and challenging environments.


Total S.A.: Total S.A., a French multinational integrated oil and gas company, is using DJI M300 RTK drones to inspect their offshore oil platforms in the North Sea.


ExxonMobil: ExxonMobil, an American multinational oil and gas corporation, is using DJI M300 RTK drones to conduct aerial surveys and inspections of their oil and gas assets, including pipelines and offshore platforms.

Nuclear Power Plants

Nuclear plants are traditionally inspected using a combination of manual and technological methods. For example, when plant personnel conduct regular visual inspections of key areas within the facility, such as the containment structure and cooling towers, nondestructive testing such as ultrasonic testing, radiography, and eddy current testing are used to inspect the condition of plant components and identify potential flaws. Also, dimensional measurement tools, such as laser scanners, are used to obtain accurate measurements of key components and structures within the plant, which can help identify issues and support maintenance and repair activities.


These inspection methods provide important information about the condition of nuclear plants, but they can also be time-consuming, resource-intensive, and pose safety risks to plant personnel. This is why nuclear plants organizations have been opting for drones to better inspect hard-to-reach areas within the plant.  For instance, DJI M300 RTK drone supports the Electric Power Research Institute (an U.S.-based non-profit organization) to conduct aerial inspections of nuclear facilities for research purposes, with a focus on improving the safety and efficiency of these facilities. Also, Radiation Safety Solutions, a company specializing in radiation safety and environmental services, has used the M300 RTK to inspect nuclear facilities and assess potential radiological hazards.


The benefits of using drones equipped with critical payloads such as thermal imaging, and radiation detectors for inspections in the nuclear power industry, include improved safety and efficiency, reduced costs, and enhanced data collection and analysis capabilities. However, it is important to note that the use of drones in nuclear plants is still subject to strict regulations and guidelines to ensure the safety and security of these facilities.

Power Lines

Inspecting power lines is crucial for ensuring the reliability and safety of the electrical power grid. Regular inspections help to identify any issues with the power lines, such as broken or damaged cables, loose connections, and other defects, which can lead to power outages and safety hazards. Additionally, inspections can help to detect the growth of trees or other vegetation that may be impacting the power lines, which can also cause power disruptions and safety issues. By detecting these issues early, power line inspections can prevent power outages and help to ensure the safety of both the public and power line workers.


However, many of these methods for utility inspections are labour-intensive techniques. For example, manual inspections of power lines often require workers to climb poles or use aerial lifts, which can be physically demanding and pose safety risks. This has led many power companies to adopt new and innovative inspection techniques, such as using drones like the Acecore Zetona or DJI Matrice 30 series.


These drones can be equipped with different payloads, including thermal cameras, to detect defects and improve operations. The data gathered by these drones can then be analyzed using specialized software, eliminating the need for physically climbing power lines or using helicopters, which reduces the risk of incidents.


By incorporating drones into their inspection processes, power companies can enhance their ability to maintain the stability and safety of their electrical power grid.

Solar Farms

Regular inspections of solar farms help to identify and address any issues with the solar panels, including damage, debris, or shading, which can impact the overall performance of the solar farm.


Inspections can help to detect any problems with the electrical and mechanical components of the solar farm, such as inverters, transformers, and wiring, which can cause power losses and other issues. By detecting and addressing these problems early, solar farm inspections can help to maximize the output of these facilities, reduce maintenance costs, and improve their overall reliability.


Inspections can also help to identify any potential safety hazards, such as electrical arcs or overheating, which can pose a risk.


Nowadays, drones that can be adaptable to different payloads for inspecting solar farms, which include high-resolution cameras, thermal imaging cameras, and LiDAR sensors.


• High-resolution cameras are useful for capturing detailed images of solar panels, helping identify and diagnose problems such as cracks, damaged cells, or debris.


• Thermal imaging payloads can detect temperature differences in solar panels and detect hotspots, which are indicative of potential issues such as damaged cells or electrical malfunctions.


• LiDAR sensors can be used to create 3D maps of solar farms, helping to assess the overall health and performance of the installation and identify potential shading issues that can impact the efficiency of the solar panels.


Ideal for large area mapping, Trinity F90+ VTOL UAV is able to cover up to 700 Ha in a single flight time and with an optimal speed of 17 m/s. It is also compatible with up to 6 different payloads, so you can exchange these as required, all in a single UAV platform. 

Wind Farms

Inspections of wind farms help to identify and address any maintenance needs, such as loose bolts or damaged blades, which can impact the performance of the turbines and potentially lead to safety issues. Inspections can also help to detect and resolve any issues with the electrical and control systems, which are critical for the smooth operation of the wind farm, they also allow for the monitoring of the wind farm's production capacity, helping to ensure that the wind farm is producing energy at optimal levels and to identify any potential issues that could impact its energy output. 


However, Inspecting wind farms include technicians climbing the turbines or using cranes and ropes to access hard-to-reach areas. These methods can be time-consuming, labor-intensive, pose safety risks to the technician, and can thus be costly.


Drones equipped with cameras and other sensors can replace these methods by providing a safer, faster, and more efficient way to inspect wind farms. Drones such as the DJI Mavic 3 Enterprise Series can easily access hard-to-reach areas, such as the tops of turbines or blades, to capture high-resolution images and video. The Mavic 3 Thermal can detect thermal anomalies, cracks, or other signs of wear and tear.


Using these professional drones for wind farm inspections can save time and reduce the need for technicians to climb turbines, reducing the risk of injury and improving safety.

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DJI Mavic 3 Enterprise
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DJI Mavic 3T
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Building & Roof Inspections

Building and roof inspections help identify any potential hazards or issues that may affect the stability and functionality of the building.


During a building inspection, a trained inspector evaluates the overall condition of the structure, including the foundation, walls, roof, electrical systems, plumbing, and more. A roof inspection focuses specifically on the condition of the roofing system, including the shingles, flashing, and gutters. Early detection of any problems can prevent costly repairs and avoid potential safety hazards, among other benefits.


Historically, building and roof inspections have been performed manually by a trained inspector who physically visits the property. The inspector visually inspects various components of the building and roof, and may use tools such as ladders, flashlights, and moisture meters to gain access and gather information. The inspector may also take photographs, make notes, and use checklists to document their findings. 


The physical work is now shifting towards more advanced techniques. With drones such as the above DJI Mavic 3 enterprise series, inspectors can quickly and safely access rooftops and tall buildings, without the need for ladders or scaffolding.


Additionally, the DJI Mavic 3 Thermal is equipped with thermal imaging which can detect insulation problems or water leaks. This can save time and resources compared to manual inspections.

The Right Drone and Software Go Hand in Hand

Regular inspections are crucial for maintaining the longevity and efficiency of these industries, and for providing dependable energy for years to come.


Using a top-notch software like DJI Terra or Correlator 3D for data gathering, analysis, and reporting go hand in hand when operating drones. Integration of these components results in reduced costs, improved safety measures, and ultimately, improved outcomes for your company. 

With advancements in drone technology, the benefits of using drones for inspection services are only set to increase in the future.

For industry leading technology within the commercial UAV drones, contact a member of our team today to find the right equipment for your application.

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