Automated Drone Inspections: Save Time, Save Money
Ever wonder how the benefits of automation might impact your business?
Several years ago, I worked as a manager at a warehouse for a large e-commerce company. When I started with the company, everything was done by hand. Picking product from the shelves, packing boxes, and loading trucks all required the manual efforts of people.
Although most of the year a team of 40 people worked on my shift, when the holiday season arrived, that number swelled to hundreds.
After about a year, I was moved to manage a different section of the facility. This area of the warehouse was new, and utilizing robotics.
The change in production numbers was more than noticeable – it was staggering.
What once took a crew of over one hundred people now took only six people and a small army of robots. Efficiencies improved and costs went down.
It was one of the best examples of the benefits of automation I’d ever witnessed, and opened my eyes to the possibilities.
While in that case it was ground-based robots powering operations, aerial options can provide just as many benefits.
With respect to automated drone inspections, the industry has made huge strides in the last few years.
Now, drones offer powerful AI technology and greater autonomy.
There are numerous benefits to using automated drones, particularly for inspections and repeatable processes. Compared to traditional methods, automated drone inspections can make a lasting positive change to many operations.
Let’s take a look at a few particular examples.
The Benefits of Automation Include Lower Costs
In most businesses, human employees top the list of expenses.
In addition to wages, people require medical coverage, unemployment, vacation time, and more. And, if something goes wrong, like a safety accident, these costs can rise exponentially.
While these costs need to be weighed against the benefits productive workers generate, there’s no doubt that automation can save businesses money by decreasing the cost of manual methods.
In fact, estimates indicate that in the majority of businesses, one-third of all work can be automated.
Automated drones can replace manual methods of inspections, and in some industries already are.
UAV technology already allows drones to fly automated inspections indoors, in confined spaces, and at dangerous heights that once placed people in harm’s way.
But, automated drone inspections provide more than just increased safety.
Automated inspections are also much faster than manual inspections. With less direct human interaction in the inspection process, combined with shorter inspection durations, many companies realize double-digit cost savings.
In one instance, oil giant Shell even saved $100,000 on a single job.
Drone Automation Means Increased Efficiencies
Sure, some situations are unique and complex.
In these cases, you may still need to rely on the skills of a trained and experienced commercial drone pilot.
For example, if a tornado significantly damages powerlines in a given area, this would represent a unique situation. Dangling wires, fallen trees, and other debris would require a trained pilot to inspect.
But, many situations represent repeatable processes with standard mission parameters. In these cases, the benefits of automation really shine.
Let’s take the example of the power lines above.
Before the tornado, these same powerlines probably changed very little for several years, yet still require routine maintenance and monitoring. Automated inspections could greatly improve the efficiency in an environment such as this.
Automated flight plans can place inspection drones at the optimal vantage point for each telephone pole, transformer, and wire.
The path would be repeatable at any time, on any schedule, and would collect the exact data technicians and planners need. The process remains identical each time a flight takes place, making comparing inspection results much easier.
And, with emerging technology like “Drone-in-a-box” solutions, you can automate the entire process: takeoffs, flights, data-gathering, landing, and even recharging the batteries.
When you look at drone-based inspections, you’ll discover considerable improvement in data quality vs. those conducted manually. While impressive, it’s even more so when using automated drone inspections are used.
Typically, when undertaking a manual inspection, people capture a few pictures and measurements. But, they’re generally either limited by views from the ground only, or risking their safety at height. Additionally, acquiring identical data time and time again becomes difficult, with even slight human error adding up over time.
Think about a scenario like this:
Let’s say you’re trying to track the same piece of equipment, land mass, or building, over a period of time. Maybe you’re tracking agricultural growth on a farm, how quickly erosion is taking place, or if a critical paint job is holding up properly over months of exposure.
You’d want photos taken from the same angles & heights for easy comparisons, right? Almost something like time-lapse photography, but over long periods of time.
Well, this is one of the benefits of automation that drones for which drones are perfectly suited.
Drones can capture enough high-resolution data to digitally recreate exact copies of your building, powerlines, towers, or any other subject. If the subject of the inspection is something with little to no variation from one examination to the next, automating the inspection allows drones to capture repeatable, high-quality data.
And importantly, the data from each flight along an optimal path can be easily compared to previous data sets.
Since automated drone inspections would place the UAV in the same spots each and every time, it’s that much easier to identify even subtle changes.
Through automated processes, you achieve high-resolution data you can quickly analyze, and determine areas of concern before they become major issues.
Securing Your Site with Automated Drone Inspections
Does your jobsite require regular security patrols?
Whether you need to monitor inventory for theft, guard against trespassing, or even in a situation where people may want to damage your equipment, securing larger sites poses significant challenges.
First, guards on foot (or even vehicle) can only watch relatively small areas, with limited views from the ground. Then, there’s the costs involved with hiring enough patrolmen for the job.
However, drones can cover tremendous ground, quickly, both night and day. Equipped with night vision or thermal imaging, even darkness provides no cover to intruders.
Again, the benefits of automation really shine through here. With pre-programmed flight paths, drones can follow regular, routine schedules with little-to-no human interaction needed.
That means your site stays more secure, without the cost of adding additional staff.
Are Automated Drone Inspections Right for You?
Drones have already demonstrated themselves to be a massive benefit in a wide range of applications.
And, depending on your needs, automated drone inspections might be perfectly suited for the job.
If your needs include gathering the same information on a regular basis – whether hourly, daily, weekly, etc. – then automating the process can provide the efficiency boost you’re looking for.
As time goes on, automated drone inspections will continue to see greater adoption thanks to their lower costs, improved efficiencies, and better data.
Are you looking for a way to increase your business’s efficiencies? Wondering if an automated drone program is right for you?
Curious how you can make it happen in your own operations?
If so, Consortiq can help take your business to the next level.
We help companies with every aspect of drone programs, whether you’re looking to create an in-house program from the ground up, or just want someone to perform the job for you.
With headquarters in both the UK and US, Consortiq’s team of expert professionals is ready to help you get started today.
Just contact us using the form below to get started!
Are you ready to find your better way?
Ready to Integrate Drones Into Your Organization?
Contact Us Today to Get Started!