Sky-Futures, a drone based data collection and analysis company, said they have completed the world’s first trial inspection of a floating production storage and offloading vessel cargo tank by drone without the need for a human having to enter the tank.
Working with their technology partners at Flyability, a drone inspection team “delivered a new way of inspections in confined spaces,” company officials said.
The drone was able to fly down in to a BW Offshore FPSO tank unaided, accurately navigating the internal space by both general visual inspection and close visual inspection.
Sky-Futures officials said they have spent the last twelve months developing both an inspection procedure and software to collect high quality, repeatable image data sets that allow clients to carry out confined space by drone, making FPSO tanks inspections safer, faster and cheaper.
Current confined space inspection techniques require people to climb inside dangerous and potentially hazardous tanks. The process can be dangerous and time consuming and can deliver low quality data sets.
The Sky-Futures and Flyability drone based solution allows inspections to take place without manned entry, significantly reducing risk to people and plant.
“It is clear that the benefits in terms of not just time and cost to inspect but also preparation, cleaning, repeatability and access requirements highlight that this technology is an exceptional tool to have available,” said Karen Cowie, the BW Offshore senior integrity engineer for the Athena FPSO. “For our specific requirements, the safety benefit to be gained by avoiding personnel entry is invaluable.”
The image and video data that is collected is delivered through the Sky-Futures Cloud, a secure, web-based application that allows clients to easily access data from anywhere in the world and compare the latest inspections to previous data sets.
Sky-Futures said their training facilities include replicas of a ship hull and the confined spaces of an oil rig.
“Our world class training facilities provided us with the perfect conditions to recreate site conditions,” said Steve Moir, Sky-Futures engineering manager. “The demonstrable safety benefits, combined with cost and time savings with this inspection technique speak for themselves but we look forward to continually raising the bar and increasing the integrity confidence grading.”