K Line turns to drones for inspections and maintenance

Malcolm Latarche

Malcolm Latarche · 26 February 2019


A Joint development between Japanese ship operator K Line and surveying and testing specialist Technos Mihara will see maintenance of holds and hulls undertaken by drones and autonomous vehicles.

Despite a robust maintenance policy, K Line says it has had continued difficulty in inspection of ship parts that are hard to access, such as the top side of cargo hold and underwater hull.

As a result of multiple on-site trials with aerial and underwater drones with Technos Mihara, which has sophisticated technology for drone operation and image analysis, K Line has found a notable improvement in the accuracy of such inspections. In addition it has enjoyed an improvement in efficiency and safety of the inspections by automation using these drones.

The two organisation are now proceeding to the next step and have reached a mutual agreement to develop a new system for ship hull inspection and maintenance through integration between drone and digital image analysis technology together with the long-time accumulated and cultivated expertise and know-how of K Line’s ship management.

A new department known as “AI/Digitalization Promotion Division” was set up in January 2019 and is aiming to introduce new technology to improve the efficiency and safety of the operator’s fleet.

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