Materials Performance

MAY 2017

Materials Performance is the world's most widely circulated magazine dedicated to corrosion prevention and control. MP provides information about the latest corrosion control technologies and practical applications for every industry and environment.

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30 MAY 2017 MATERIALS PERFORMANCE NACE INTERNATIONAL: VOL. 56, NO. 5 FEATURE ARTICLE Under one proposal, data collected by drones could potentially enable engineers to monitor marine structures at a remote, land-based control center. Photo courtesy of Rolls-Royce. The RECOMMS consortium is promoting drone use to help with marine maintenance issues. Photo courtesy of AkzoNobel. Continued f rom page 28 technology to deliver safer, more accurate evaluations of many enclosed or difficult- to-access spaces on ships and marine struc- tures, including ballast water tanks. Those evaluations will involve inspections of cor- rosion damage and any deterioration of the existing coating. The drone should be able to detect CUI and help identify the need for maintenance further in advance, according to the developers. "Surveys of enclosed spaces and ballast water tanks are an essential part of routine maintenance and are increasingly critical for ship owners," says Michael Hindmarsh, business development manager for AkzoNobel's International Paint marine coatings business. "Inspecting these areas thoroughly can require working at height, entering confined spaces, and negotiating slippery surfaces that could be poorly lit, all of which are high-risk activities that the maritime industry is keen to address." By replacing human inspections with a drone, routine maintenance can be moni- tored remotely and in real time by office- based staff, with instant feedback available to the vessel or offshore structure's super - intendent, according to the companies. In turn, this can reduce costs, increase effi- ciency, and significantly reduce risks to human workers during essential maintenance. The companies explain that the part- nership's experience, which includes coat- ings expertise and consultancy, drone building, ownership of marine structures, and a working knowledge of present repair and inspection practices, provides a com- plete overview of issues and challenges associated with enclosed space inspections. As part of the partnership, additional coat- ings information will be provided by coat- ings consultancy Safinah, Ltd. (Gateshead, United Kingdom). AkzoNobel notes that it is already using drone technology. The company is cur- rently testing the use of drones in Australia for inspecting sites in remote locations— where access is limited and the movement of heavy equipment is difficult. Thus far, the results have shown significant promise, Hindmarsh says, with specific findings expected to be published later this year. As the consortium pushes forward, the drone will undergo flight trials at an exist- ing coatings test site in the United Kingdom and also at an indoor training facility run by the tanker operator. The drone's official completion and launch is planned for October 2017. 'Caged' Drone The RECOMMS project is the latest in the string of marine drone announcements. Earlier, in November 2016, Robotica in Maintenance Strategies (RIMS) (Rotter- dam, The Netherlands) officially launched its own new service for the maritime and offshore industries using a drone with a protective cage, named "Elios." "We carried out extensive market research including visiting several universi- ties in Holland and Switzerland with our partner Flyability [Lausanne, Switzerland], where they gave a presentation of their drone Elios," says Senior Maintenance Engi- neer David Knuckell. "This is a drone within a protective cage, and is perfectly suited to enter enclosed spaces and carry out in-depth inspections of the enclosed areas." The cage enables Elios to "bounce off walls" and "fly where no other drone can," according to Flyability, which used the drone in a case study 3 last fall to inspect a storage tank for oil and gas terminal operator Royal Vopak (Rotterdam, The Netherlands). "We used to climb down, had to arrange all kinds of safety measures for people, and had to light up lamps to do the inspection," says Jan Zandberg, a terminal manager at Vopak. "Now we can use the drone, which saves us an enormous amount of time, but also lowers the risk of sending people down there. We now inspect the whole tank in about two hours. In earlier days, people had to go down, all kinds of precautions had to be made. This cost days." "This technology has just started," she adds. "We see huge advantages to using this technique in the future. It will become a mainstream technology, I'm absolutely convinced of that." For projects involving the Elios, the drone developer is working with global drone-based inspection services provider Sky-Futures (Hayes, United Kingdom) to bundle the drone with Expanse † software for interpretation of the findings. The soft- ware helps make data available to all stake- holders through a cloud system, and it enables clients to present inspection find- ings in a three-dimensional (3D) environ- ment. According to the companies, the combination of the drone and software allows for an end-to-end solution of data capture, processing, and distribution. "Through this bundle package, we intend to provide our customers with the greatest flexibility and efficiency in the way † Trade name.

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