Drones and Crawling Robots

CLAWAR also known as walking or crawling robots are used for corrosion inspection of the above-ground storage tanks (ASTs) and different off-shore locations where it is nearly impossible for any human intervention. These fast and cost effective robots which are equipped with NDT sensors such as Impedance tomographic and thermographic sensors, use permanent magnets as an adhesion mechanism for crawling over the steel tanks. They are used for remote visual inspection in oil and gas pipelines, nuclear, mining, aerospace and defence, and power generator sectors. As per analysis by Frost & Sullivan, the global? drone and robotic market has tremendous growth potential, with an estimated market size of $81.4 billion by 2022.

  • Oil and gas industry is planning to increase the investment in drones and robotics to approximately 28% from the current 15%, in next 4-5 years. In the oil and gas industry, drones are used to detect structural weakness and heat loss to identify a potential leak in the pipeline. They find a wider range of applications in the upstream part in comparison to midstream and downstream.
  • One of the key challenges faced by the oil and gas industry is cost savings, as most of the inspections are carried out whilst the asset is stationary, for example live flare. The cost of shutting down a plant for the sake of inspection can run to million dollars per day. Thus with the help of robots and drones, the plant is required to shut down only in case of an abnormality found in the data collected by the robots or drones.
  • Some of the top players in drone services for oil and gas industry are Airware, SkyX, ING Robotic Aviations, Cyberhawk, Terra Drone, and liquid robotics.
  • In the Air-force and Defence sector the MROs such as AFI KLM E&M are starting to deploy robots and drones for final inspection of aircraft engines post overhauling. However, their widespread adoption is hampered by the regulatory issues against performing inspections directly on the airport apron area.
  • Another area where drones find application is the inspection of wind turbine rotor blades at offshore locations in the power generation plants. As their operation and maintenance costs can account for approximately 26.6% of the total cost of power generation, an increase in their O&M efficiency through condition monitoring is expected to have a significant positive impact on the revenue.
  • Currently drones are being used for visual and thermo graphic inspections of the wind turbines for structural condition monitoring of the internal blades built from the glass fibre laminates. Drones are also used for radiation monitoring in Nuclear plants.

Interface of NDT Equipment with asset reliability and eventually asset performance management software

The non-destructive testing is used for ensuring asset reliability and integrity for controlling the manufacturing process, as asset reliability coupled with user friendly software, performance, quality control, robotics and automation is one of the major factors responsible for driving the market. Currently, there is a rising need for extending the life of aging assets and running them at high capacities, as the combination of asset performance management software and Non-destructive testing has helped companies in achieving various goals such as:

  1. Maximization of plant life and availability
  2. Cost optimization of the inspection, maintenance and repair
  3. Meeting the safety, environmental and reliability requirements
  4. Training of the equipment owners and the operators
  5. Undertaking the design reviews
  6. Assessing the in-service damage
  • With the asset performance software, users can collect data from various assets using sensors and take and use the data analytics platforms to compile this data from different sources. They can also apply analytical models to this data for failure prediction of critical equipment components and use the information to prioritize maintenance activities.
  • While many end users realize the benefits of digitization, they may not have the personnel to make meaningful analyses. They need help and are turning to asset integrity management suppliers to accelerate their digitization efforts. This trend for more end users to “digitize” operations is driving growth in the market.
  • Companies such as Intertek, Applus RTD, Mistras, Oceaneering International Inc. and Force Technology are providing Asset Integrity Management and lifecycle management support to different end-user verticals through various activities such as conception, design, construction, commissioning, operations, and decommissioning phases. Bureau Veritas which specializes in Asset Reliability consulting provides an integrated suite of services to raise the asset management capability of the customer . It helps in supporting production processes, quality control, regulatory compliance, as well as plant maintenance and scheduled shutdown inspection.
  • From the perspective of the big players in the NDT Equipment industry, companies such as GE are investing in corrosion management as a part of top asset management focal area for the oil and gas sector. As a part of GE’s Predix platform, it released PCM software to manage corrosion of pipes and vessels predicatively. Emerson recently acquired Permasense, a UK based expert in corrosion and erosion monitoring solutions and GeoFields Inc., a leading global supplier of software and implementation services for pipeline integrity data collection, management and risk analysis, for the oil and gas industry. These acquisitions are a strategic move by Emerson to prioritize pipeline integrity-related maintenance and asset management activities.

There are clearly interesting times ahead for the global NDT equipment industry, despite the challenges, there are many exciting opportunities.The upward growth trends and rapidly evolving technologies are expected to benefit both the equipment manufacturers and suppliers along with the end-users.

About Frost & Sullivan

For six decades, Frost & Sullivan has been world-renowned for its role in helping investors, corporate leaders and governments navigate economic changes and identify disruptive technologies, Mega Trends, new business models and companies to action, resulting in a continuous flow of growth opportunities to drive future success.

Frost & Sullivan

For six decades, Frost & Sullivan has been world-renowned for its role in helping investors, corporate leaders and governments navigate economic changes and identify disruptive technologies, Mega Trends, new business models and companies to action, resulting in a continuous flow of growth opportunities to drive future success.

Share This
X