The role of robots: “No human, no incident, no death.”
Avestec drones can clean and attach themselves to surfaces to perform inspections
Why send a robot to do a man’s job? If the job in question is tank and site inspection, drones are a desirable replacement.
“Traditional inspection methods put inspectors at a variety of risks including potential falls, slips, trips, toxic or explosive environments, excessive heat and lack of oxygen,” said Reza Tavakoli, president and CEO of Avestec Inc., a company whose mission is to develop robotic technology for inspection of hazardous and hard-to-reach spaces in a safe manner using drones.
“Even with extensive safety precautions in place, a high number of fatalities and incidents have been annually reported,” Tavakoli said. “Moreover, these methods involve installation of scaffolding or require rope access to the structures. The process is inherently unsafe, suffers from limited accessibility and is very expensive. Avestec offers an innovative aerial robotic technology for the inspection of inaccessible and hazardous industrial spaces.”
Inspections by remotely operated robots in hazardous, elevated and confined spaces include four major benefits:
• Reduced operation time
• Reduced employment cost
• Improved inspection quality
• Increased worker safety
“We are removing the human factor from inspection of unsafe spaces,” said Tavakoli. “We solve the problem at the root. Basically, no human, no incident, no death.”
Even among robotic inspectors, Avestec’s drones are equipped with unique features that allow for an even greater range of abilities. In addition to visual inspection—common in many aerial inspection systems—Avestec’s technology provides accurate surface inspection to walls and coatings. High accuracy is achieved by a proprietary robotic tethered drone called SKYRON UCS-53. The drone attaches itself to the target surface to execute inspections. The aerial robot can clean the surface prior to inspection, which is a highly desirable feature.
Operating SKYRON UCS-53 during an inspection mission is a two-person process that involves a pilot who navigates the aerial platform and a certified inspector to guide the pilot to areas of interest and to remotely perform the visual and ultrasonic testing inspection through a proprietary graphical interface software. Avestec has also developed a proprietary smart tether system called STS A3-50, which enables unlimited flight time and cable management.
“The robotic inspection market is growing at a rapid pace and drones are key players,” Tavakoli said. “Compared to other inspection methods, including human-based inspections and competing robotics technologies such as crawlers, aerial platforms offer an unparalleled advantage with their speed and ease of access to hard-to-reach targets.”
Mining, energy and beyond
Avestec’s drones can inspect a variety of industrial assets, including storage tanks, ship tanks, offshore platforms, wind turbines and industrial cranes. This flexibility means a multitude of companies can benefit from Avestec’s drones, including those in the power generation, chemical and mining sectors.
“We inspect industrial assets safer, faster and more accurately,” Tavakoli said. “Depending on the asset, each day of operation shutdown may cost owners hundreds of thousands of dollars. Therefore, accelerating the operation significantly benefits the industries by reducing shutdown times and lowering employment costs. This technology could potentially bring down the inspection time from weeks to days or even hours.
“Our analysis and reporting software adds a layer of intelligence to inspection, and automates and expedites report generation, which makes decision-making easier and faster. The technology could save lives, money and time.”