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Do Drones Make Site Inspections Safer?


Inspecting petrochemical storage facilities can be a dangerous business. After all, how can you know that something is safe until you’ve inspected it? Historically that’s meant that inspectors are potentially put at risk when they’re checking hard-to-reach areas like gas tank roofs or smoke stacks.


Writing for sUAS News, Gary Mortimer suggested that utilising drones is a better way to carry out these potentially dangerous inspections, allowing the inspectors themselves to see everything they need to without having to clamber around the structures in question.


Drones can make this much easier, but there are a few other things that need to be considered when utilising this technology.


One important thing to bear in mind is that petrochemical storage facilities and power plants will naturally be home to highly flammable materials. Electrical equipment, like a drone, could provide an ignition source if not carefully managed.


Mr Mortimer explained that making drone use safe involves minimising the risk of ignition as much as possible, as well as having in-depth knowledge about the facility itself and how it operates to design a flight path that also minimises risk.


He added that using a professional unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) pilot, with high-quality equipment, is essential to make the most of the benefits of drone inspections.


Last month we highlighted the importance of maintaining your storage facility properly, after a firm in the US was fined $80,000 for illegally using an old and corroded storage tank, and hiding it from inspectors.


It seems that making use of drones could not only make inspections safer, but also save money by allowing inspectors to carry out checks on a greater number of sites by reducing their need to travel so much.


If you need assistance with overfill prevention systems or other technology relating to petrochemical storage, contact us today.