6 Ways the Oil & Gas Industry is Using Indoor Drone Inspections to Cut Costs

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6 Ways the Oil & Gas Industry is Using Indoor Drone Inspections to Cut Costs

The Oil and Gas industry is always on the lookout to realize cost savings, but finding ways to do that sustainably and reliably is the real challenge. More often than not, adopting easily deployable technologies is the way to go, especially when looking to reduce costs while improving efficiency and productivity. Drones are now transforming the Oil and Gas industry, allowing organizations to essentially "do more with less" by performing precise and safe Asset Inspections.


If you’re interested to find out about the Drone applications in the Oil and Gas Industry, you can read that in our previous article. Or if you’d like to learn more about success stories, you can read that here.

Almost every sector that needs visual inspection as part of routine maintenance procedures are now routinely using Drones to their advantage. Drone inspections save organizations from putting their employees in hazardous conditions and collect accurate and precise data. But, in the Oil and Gas industry, the assets are truly large scale and often require indoor and confined space inspections; where does a drone fit into this? And-

How Do Drones Increase Cost Savings?

1. Eliminating Use of Temporary Structures

The use of scaffoldings is commonplace during inspections; they help inspectors reach difficult-to-reach spaces and assess the situation. But these simple tools come at the cost of time to build and money to procure. The structures also need to be inspected daily to ensure the user's safety and once the task is complete, the scaffoldings need to be taken apart as well. All of this equates to a direct increase in cost and wasted work hours.

Drones inspection remove the need for scaffoldings and other temporary structures altogether. Using drones, the inspector can check every nook and cranny from multiple angles. With the need for temporary structures eliminated, you also free up the upkeep time associated with them. The freed-up time and budget can be used more wisely and productively.

2. Reducing Downtime

For every minute that an asset is down, the asset owner loses out in profits. In the Oil and Gas industry, each individual operation is vital to the overall product- Assets being down for any duration brings down the efficiency of the plant. In the case of Flare Stacks or Boiler Tank inspections, the asset must be shut down several days in advance to make them safe enough for human entry and interaction. Adding on to our previous point, building and using scaffoldings will increase downtime even further.

Drones inspection drastically boost the overall speed of inspections. Additionally, you can even conduct a rapid spot check as necessary instead of a complete inspection which would require an asset shutdown. Even in the case of a shutdown, the safety parameters for drones and humans are different. Drones don't need the asset to be completely cooled down and devoid of toxic fumes and other hazards, allowing the drone to enter and inspect well before a human team would be able to. This further decreases the downtime caused due to inspections and realizes cost savings.

3. Decreasing Work Hours

Manual inspections tend to be time-intensive and laborious, and this is made worse by the attached hazards on Oil and Gas fields- you would need more personnel and time to conduct the more hazardous inspections. During shutdown events, having many people onsite itself is a danger; this makes a sub-optimal situation even worse. Keeping personnel to a minimum without losing effectiveness is the decisive optimal outcome- having a drone makes this possible.

Drones drastically cut down inspection time, even by 80% in some cases, but they also reduce the number of workers needed. Drones simplify the inspection process and eliminate some of the pre and post inspection processes- this further brings the required number of personnel down. By removing the inspectors from hazardous situations, the Oil and Gas industry essentially sees a trend of Fewer and Safer person-hours.

4. Cutting Down Health Insurance Costs

Oil and Gas fields carry many risks for the workers, and insuring the crew from harm is an unavoidable cost of business. However, greater danger and an increased rate of injuries at the workplace result in raised premiums. Injuries also cause downtime, lower productivity and reduced profits. By ensuring fewer workplace incidents and reducing the exposed hours, you significantly reduce Insurance Costs and stand to gain much more.

Introducing Drones to Inspections in the Oil and Gas industry significantly increases the Health & Safety standards. Drones reduce and, in some cases, eliminate the need for inspectors to put themselves in danger. A two-person drone team can safely conduct inspections from safe distances, eliminating hundreds of exposure hours.

5. Reducing Need of Health and Safety Equipment

Another benefit of increasing Health and Safety standards and eliminating many of the hazards is dissolving or reducing the budget allocated to buying and maintaining health and safety equipment. In the Hierarchy of Hazard Control, personal protective equipment ranks dead last in effectiveness- by isolating your staff from hazards, you mitigate danger more effectively and reduce spending on less effective safety measures.

6. Increasing the Frequency of Inspections

By closely and frequently monitoring the assets, organizations can establish better prediction patterns on their assets and preemptively perform maintenance during scheduled downtimes. This enables you to reduce the number of times the asset needs to be taken and ultimately earn more profit.

Using Drones, organizations in the Oil and Gas industry can reduce the cost of inspections; this enables them to conduct more frequent inspections. Drones are the perfect tool for Oil and Gas fields, empowering you with non-invasive and remote sensing capabilities. Drones diagnose problems before they compound and cause production loss and costly breakdown maintenance.

Which Drone is Right for Your Indoor Confined Space Inspections?

When it comes to incorporating drones into your workflow, the two biggest challenges are ease of use and data quality. Inspectors aren't natural pilots and may struggle initially to produce actionable data- If you are apprehensive about adopting drones, you can choose to go with a proven and experienced Drones-As-a-Service company who will conduct the inspections as a service for you. You avoid the headaches of upfront capital investment and training and get actionable data at the ready.

But, if Ease of Use and Quality of Data is your only concern, Flyability's Elios 2 is the drone for you. It is an intuitive indoor inspection drone specifically designed to fly in confined spaces, allowing you to go where other drones cannot and inspect the interiors of Flare Stacks, Boilers, Pressure Vessels and Tanks.

"With a capable drone like the Elios 2 added to your tool belt, you can safeguard your CAPEX investments"

The Elios 2 enables you to perform safe, fast and cost-effective inspections through three main characteristics; collision resistance, compact size and reliable transmission. The drone is protected from impact by a spherical cage. Additionally, the propellers of the Elios 2 are capable of making lightning-fast corrections that keep the drones stable at all times. The Elios has a diameter of just under 40cm, allowing it to squeeze through small spaces and hug walls and ceilings. 

With a capable drone like the Elios 2 added to your tool belt, you can safeguard your CAPEX investments, protect your staff and mitigate the risk of spillage and leaks. Drones enable you to diagnose and identify problems before they grow in severity and cause production loss and costly breakdowns. 

If you're interested in saving money on your Oil & Gas fields, get in touch with us today. We can arrange a cost-free demo for you, where we can display the benefits of Drones in your field.


About the author

Niiveth Mani


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