For Industrial Skyworks, the oil and gas industry is fueling (second pun intended) a growing demand for drone inspection across the sector.
Chris Leightell, the company’s vice-president of sales, points out several reasons why oil and gas companies will likely adopt drone inspection tech as the new standard in the coming years.
“A drone eliminates the need for workers to physically access hostile environments where factors such as the height, wind, waves, weather, and radiation can lead to accidents or health issues,” Leightell writes in a recent industry report.
“Also, drones can easily access difficult to reach areas such as confined space while eliminating the need for a human to go there using the risky mechanical tools such as swing stages or rope access.”
Because drones can carry a vast array of sensors, companies are able to pinpoint weak structural points with thermal devices as well as determine depths with sonar or Lidar.
“Drones take photos, capture video, take thermal images, transmit data, and have other functions that enable them to collect and share information that would otherwise take days using the conventional means,” Leightell said.
In 2016, Skyworks launched Blue VU, a software suite specifically designed for oil and gas companies for remote inspection of assets. The suite organizes and sorts thousands of UAV images; tracks and controls inspection workflows and supports synchronized, multimodal exploration of UAV images using 3D point clouds, 3D building models, and 2D maps.
Other drone firms are also striking out into the oil and gas industry as well – Canadian-based SkyX recently announced a plan to target the multi-billion pipeline monitoring market with drones “capable of recharging themselves and, according to the firm, offer maximum range at a minimum cost.”
Last year, Silent Falcon UAS Technologies launched a solar/electric, fixed wing, long-range drone system to “inspect and monitor oil and gas production and distribution assets.”
To paraphrase an Oscar-winning film, when it comes to the oil and gas industry, “There Will Be Drone.”