Looking Up: 4 essential industrial applications of automated drones

airobotics-miningThe various industries spanning the globe are unquestionably diverse. From mining and manufacturing to energy and telecommunication, the equipment is wildly different, the infrastructure, the environments, the workforce. On the surface, different industries have very little in common, but many of them have the same major needs, and those major needs are desperate for improvement in order to save money, improve efficiencies, and increase safety. One sure way for any industry to do all these is to equip themselves with automated drones.

Automatically superior

Automated drones are drones built with one significant improvement, which is the ability to fully operate with minimal human intervention and even the barest amount of programming. Automated drones can deploy, fly and land without a pilot, collect and process unlimited aerial data without an operator, and even perform its own basic maintenance including power supply management and sensor changing in the case of leading automated drones capable of a wide range of applications. Not only does this save a huge amount of money and eliminate the possibility of human error in flights and data collection, but it also makes on-demand and emergency response possible without delay – an essential consideration.

Surveying

Not only is surveying an onerous, time-sucking task that requires a level of precision that’s difficult for even the best surveyors to routinely attain, but given the remote locations it often needs to be completed in – as well as the harsh conditions of many industrial sites – it’s also rife with potential danger. This makes it the exact sort of task that should be delegated to autonomous drones.

In a case study jointly conducted by Airobotics, a leader in industrial drone applications, and global manufacturing firm Israel Chemicals Ltd., an automated drone was able to complete stockpile evaluations using 9.5 million points as opposed to the 360 points used in traditional stockpile evaluation. This resulted in an increase in elevation accuracy of 127% and a reported stockpile volume difference of 1.37%. All in a fraction of the manpower hours that would have been required for traditional surveying, with no risk to human employees.

Inspections

The amount of critical infrastructure, equipment and sites industrial organizations are tasked with keeping in optimal condition is immense, and the consequences of malfunction in any of those areas could be even bigger. Inspections are one of the most critical aspects of any industrial company, demanding rigorous attention from the employees tasked with completing them – and often putting those employees at risk of the very hazards they’re attempting to prevent.

Using automated drones to provide high-resolution live viewing for inspections eliminates the need to put human employees up on ladders or ropes, in helicopters, or in remote or dangerous terrain such as mining blast sites. It also allows for frequent inspections that don’t require work stoppages or machinery shutdowns, and inspections are made even more efficient with automated processing of aerial data. Most importantly, automated drones can immediately launch for emergency inspections in order to help prevent worst-case scenarios.

Security

Industrial sites and the companies that run them face a wide range of security risks. Many are theft targets due to their valuable assets and equipment and many are also targets of vandalism and sabotage for political reasons. Some are even at risk of terrorist attacks. The need for high-level security including surveillance and incident response can’t be overstated.

For industrial security, automated drones offer a cost and time-efficient method of performing routine surveillance like perimeter patrols, easily reaching far-flung parts of the facility or remote sites to transmit live video to security personnel – personnel who would otherwise spend a huge amount of time monitoring those same areas either on foot or in a vehicle, exposing themselves to the facility’s security threats. Automated drones also provide on-demand risk detection, threat monitoring and threat assessment to mitigate security incidents with minimal risk to personnel and the facility.

Emergency response

Fires. Chemical leaks. Critical infrastructure failure. Hauling accidents. Improper detonation. The list of things that can go wrong in an industrial setting can unfortunately go on much longer, and an even more unfortunate reality is that the difference between employee life and death can be a matter of minutes. Which isn’t even mentioning the serious environmental impact that can occur, the risk to the public, the damage to facilities, and the financial ruin that can befall a company.

There is no better, faster and safer option for providing situational awareness and essential visibility into an emergency than an automated drone. They can immediately deploy to begin gathering and processing real-time information, notably live video, to inform decision-makers and provide critical information to first responders to help save lives and protect critical assets, all without endangering employees or other human responders in the name of gaining information and minimizing damage.

Clear skies ahead

Different as they may be, organizations in every industry are looking for ways to cut costs, save time, and minimize any possible risk – to employees, the public, the environment, and to themselves. For these reasons, another thing organizations in every industry have in common is that they stand to benefit from automated drones. They are the innovation set to revolutionize surveying, inspections, security and emergency response, no matter in which industry these tasks are being undertaken.