Flying drone to inspect coatings and corrosion
AkzoNobel, DroneOps and Barrier Group have partnered to develop drone technology for remote inspection of vessels' enclosed spaces, ballast water tanks, and coatings. AkzoNobel hopes that the drones will be able to deliver safer, more accurate evaluations of ballast water tanks and other enclosed or difficult to access spaces on ships and marine structures, including inspections of coatings and corrosion. Traditionally, inspections are carried out by crew, surveyors or independent inspectors – a potentially risky activity which represents one of the most common causes of work-related fatalities in the industry. “Surveys of enclosed spaces and ballast water tanks are an essential part of routine maintenance and are increasingly critical for ship owners,” explained Michael Hindmarsh, Business Development Manager at AkzoNobel’s 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 monitored remotely and in real time by office-based staff, with instant feedback available to the vessel or offshore structure’s superintendent. This in turn will reduce costs, increase efficiency and significantly reduce risk to human life during essential maintenance. As the new project progresses, the drone will undergo flight trials at AkzoNobel’s UK-based coatings test site and Barrier Group’s indoor training facility. The drone’s completion and launch is planned for October 2017.