The Role of Drones and UAVs in Gas Utilities
Over the course of the last few years, drones and UAVs have found application in almost all industries, and gas utilities is among them. Companies like CyberHawk specialize in carrying out industrial inspections for gas utilities. This article will discuss the the benefits and uses of unmanned aerial vehicles in the gas utilities industry.
Drones save money, time and effort and sometimes even lives. The gas plants and refineries sector is known to be a labor-intensive industry. Drones allow gas plants and refineries to get their assets inspected without having to stop their production line, saving priceless time and money in the process. They also make regular inspections available, thus reducing the risk of planned or unplanned shutdowns for maintenance or emergencies. In addition, drones save lives by reaching places that could be described as potentially dangerous for people to be in. Drones and unmanned aerial vehicles almost consume no resources at all apart from consuming a relatively low amount of power and one skilled operator. In fact, with the sophisticated software that is being developed in parallel with the growth of UAVs, one skilled pilot can operate several drones at the same time.
Nowadays, the largest oil and gas companies deploy drones to do full inspections due to their efficiency and effectiveness. Companies like CyberHawk can run several types of inspections using UAVs. They can run live flare inspections, chimney inspections, structural inspections, thermal inspections, and emergency inspections. All done using a simple remote control. Because drones can fly, they can gather more data than the average human being who is limited by his physical inability to hover over the earth.
Gas utilities are also using drones for the purpose of assessing damages caused due to natural disasters. For instance, if rains or floods damage a pipeline then drones are sent to inspect the state of the pipeline and take detailed images of it. Since drones can remain in the air for a long period, they can inspect a damaged pipeline much more accurately and quickly than a human ground team can. The images that the drone takes help the gas utility in determining the extent of the damage after which teams can be deployed to do the exact area to complete repair work. Special cameras allow them to detect leaks and other hazards unseen by the human eye.
Drones and unmanned aerial vehicles can also be used to survey and explore new gas fields. Inspecting potential areas in a short time is made easily possible using drone mapping. Companies like DroneDeploy are using this technology to map millions of acres of land across many countries so that it would become easier for gas utilities to explore resources. All a drone owner has to do is to use their charts and predetermined routes to set his drone on an exploring journey or perhaps map a new territory with unprecedented accuracy.
As drones become autonomous, it will become easier for gas utilities to schedule regular inspections. The drones would take off and do the necessary inspections themselves without requiring anyone to monitor them.