Almost every industry in the economy is utilizing commercial drones for one thing or another, especially in their maintenance procedures. You can use commercial drones to collect valuable visual data on the condition of the assets. You can use an aerial inspection to check on the conditions of assets in hard-to-reach areas without endangering the lives of inspectors. 

Instead of climbing several stories in the air to get a better view at a guy-wire or on scaffolding within a boiler to look at a weld, you can send a drone instead. We here at Geo Drones specialize in aerial inspections, mapping, surveying, and other services using commercial drones. 

Our work gives us unique insights on drone aerial inspections, and we have a simple guide for you to know what it can offer your company. Hopefully, by the end, you will learn how commercial drones fit into the process, the benefits of using drones for inspections. But before we go into other details, let’s check out what visual inspection is and why it’s essential. So let’s begin!

What Is Visual Inspection & Its Importance?

A visual inspection is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a careful, thorough review with the naked eye of every single part of an asset. Commercial drones can be used as the inspector’s eye, where the drone’s camera acts as the inspector’s eyes. Drones can collect visual data, and then it’s reviewed in detail later by the inspector. Often the inspection is instant, but the thorough inspection after data is collected is the bulk of the visual inspection work. 

If you want proper maintenance of your company’s assets, then visual inspections are a must. It’s the perfect option as it’s cheaper to replace a few components than to build the entire asset from the ground up. However, aerial visual inspections aren’t only about saving money. It’s also about safety. Aerial drone inspections can uncover potential problems that could lead to life-threatening hazards if not adequately addressed. If the maintenance isn’t done, it can lead to endangering the lives of everyone in the area. 

Aerial Drone Inspection Isn’t Limited To Visual Inspections

While aerial visual inspection is the most common service for commercial drones, it isn’t the only thing it can do. You can install drones with special sensors that allow them to function a wide range of services. Whatever sensor you can fit on the drone can be used for an inspection. Like how in the agriculture industry, commercial drones are equipped with multispectral sensors so that farmers can record images of crops in distinct spectral bands. Or, with HVAC inspections, inspections install a thermal camera on the drone to identify where heat is leaking out of a building. 

Inspection & The Maintenance Process

While aerial inspection and commercial drones impact several different industries, one of the most prominent uses for them is how it fits into the overall maintenance process. Whenever you take care of an asset like a pressure vessel or a power line, the same general procedure is followed. First, you inspect, then you go in for repairs, and drones help with the first step, inspection. If you need to inspect a chimney or up a cell phone tower, it can be dangerous to send an inspector that high up, and commercial drones can eliminate that risk. 

Now, you should remember that commercial drones and aerial drone inspections are just other tools to have in your toolbox, but that’s not the complete solution. There might be times when the inspector will need to go in for a three-dimensional evaluation. However, drones are most often the best tool for the job. Now, that’s about it for the maintenance process so let’s check out the other benefits of aerial drone inspection.

Benefits Of Drone Aerial Inspections

By now, you already how commercial drones are helping with aerial inspections and maintenance by removing the need for them to enter potentially dangerous scenarios. But that’s not all. Aerial drone inspection can also help you save much money. Here is how they do it:

How Does It Happen?

As you know by now, inspections are the first steps to maintenance. The second is actual maintenance. However, it would be best if you remembered that only 10-20% of inspections actually find a problem that requires fixing. When the drone finds any maintenance issue that will need to be set in person, we still don’t have the drone tech to perform complex tasks. You need to know about aerial drone inspection because 80-90 percent of the time, you won’t find anything to repair, so you can use drones for most of the routine checkups you need to do. 

Why It’s Important?

Having a vast team of inspectors for manual inspection often runs companies an enormous chunk of money. Only setting up the building scaffolding whenever you need essential maintenance will ensure you save maintenance expenses by up to 80-90 percent. That means you can save thousands of dollars, and for some companies, it can even save them hundreds of thousands of dollars. Also, building scaffolding takes much time as well as putting them down. 

Usually, it can take up to a couple of days, and that means you lose dozens of hours of downtime for the asset being inspected. Downtime can mean a significant loss of potential revenue for the company. Even without the scaffolding, if you can reduce the time, an inspector must be put into a dangerous situation by 80-90 percent. It also has huge potential savings in liability insurance costs. So now that you know how aerial drone inspections can save and help with safety, let’s check out some of the primary benefits:

  • Commercial drones help reduce risk as the inspector no longer has to be put into potentially dangerous situations.
  • It can help save on temporary structures as you won’t need to build scaffolding or other temporary, one-use infrastructure to support a manual inspection.
  • Drones save time. It is especially true for assets like nuclear power plants or pressure vessels where downtime means a massive loss in revenue. With commercial drones, the aerial inspection turnaround is faster and much more efficient.
  • Liability savings is another upside to aerial drone inspections. With aerial inspections, there’s a relatively low cost of drone inspections with companies using drones regularly. That means potential problems can be surfaced and addressed more quickly.
  • Drones keep better records. The data drones capture represents a meticulous record of the condition of an asset over time. You can archive the visual data that will leave you with a digital footprint of the asset’s life history that can be accessed at any time. 

You can find out more about how drones keep people safe from this Bloomberg Article. So now that we are done with the benefits let’s check out the inspection standards and bodies related to aerial drone inspection. 

Inspection Standards & Bodies

Almost every industry has assets that can lead to dangerous situations if not properly maintained. Now, companies don’t do inspections because they think it’s a good idea; they do it because they are usually required by law. So in the following passages, we will talk about inspection standards and formal inspection bodies, so let’s check them out!

Inspection Standards

There are inspection standards set for industries to ensure public safety. This is especially true for industries that deal with potentially risky assets like pressure vessels, boilers, and nuclear power plants, as well as other containers that hold chemicals or volatile substances. Countries all around the world require specific standards to be followed when inspecting them. The inspection standards are usually the same and are created by associations focusing on a given industry. 

Inspection Standards - Aerial drone inspection - Geo Drones

For example, when thinking about the Energy sector, the American Petroleum Institute (API) is the one that sets the standard. Whereas the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) is the organization that sets the standards and creates codes specifically for the design, construction, and inspection of boilers and pressure vessels. These are only some of the industry standard-setting regulatory bodies. Several organizations like API and ASME are devoted to creating standards and training materials for various industries in which inspections are performed. These standards are mandated by law in most countries throughout the world.

Formal Inspection Bodies

When it comes to inspecting assets that may be potentially dangerous, countries usually set up laws where companies follow specific standards. A representative from a formal inspection body has to make routine stops for inspection. Inspection bodies provide trained, certified inspectors to authenticate inspections as having been done following the mandated standards. For inspectors to qualify, they need to first go through rigorous training and testing provided by and/or certified by a given standards organization. The certificate permits them to authenticate inspections of a given type. 

Now, standard making associations like the API usually have fairly general requirements. However, when it comes to formal inspection bodies, the conditions set are more detailed, and the standards are comprehensive for their inspectors. During an inspection, it is entirely up to the inspector from the formal inspection body to draw on their training and decide if the proposed tool is correct and determine whether the inspection protocol is being followed properly.

What Is The Stance On Commercial Drones For Formal Inspection Bodies?

Standards organizations don’t offer any solutions and are never company-based. That means formal inspection bodies won’t endorse a particular product like a commercial drone. Now what happens instead is that standards organizations and formal inspection bodies rely on each inspector to make the call on whether or not a product or aerial inspection tool is the right fit for conducting inspections. 

The formal inspection body representative can designate a tool as a formal inspection tool if they feel it meets the criteria. Remember, inspections are crucial to ensuring proper maintenance, and that means many formal inspection bodies have approached drones with some caution. That’s understandable, as a flying camera has the potential to be incredibly helpful for an inspector. However, not all drones can handle the requirements, but commercial drones are a whole other story. These drones are created with accuracy, stability, ease of use, and other vital factors in mind.

Choose The Right Commercial Drone Services

So there you go; that concludes our simple guide on aerial drone inspection and what you need to know about them. Hopefully, you know all there is to know to make an informed decision on finding the exemplary aerial drone inspection service for your company by now. Ensure you take your time researching and finding out which drone aerial service company can fit your needs perfectly. That’s where Geo Drones can help you out. We offer comprehensive drone aerial mapping, surveying, and inspection services to construction and development companies, oil and gas companies, and any other company that needs these services. 

So if you need commercial drones for your company, then please contact us, and we will help you out. You can also drop your questions in the comments below or hit us up on our socials, and we will answer all your questions. And with that being said, that’s about all we have for you today. We will come back with something new for you soon. Until then, see ya!