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Commercial Drone Consulting: Ways Drones Have Contributed To Lowered Cost Of Infrastructural Inspection

Commercial Drone Consulting

The American infrastructure is past its prime age with the American Society of Civil Engineers awarding a D+ grade to the present quality of infrastructures. The society further noted that chief infrastructures in the country, including railways, airport, water systems, energy grids, and others are well past the lifespan for which they have been designed. While they remain active till date, a proper maintenance plan is needed to ensure that infrastructures remain safe. Infrastructure maintenance, similar to all other maintenance practices, however, is an expensive investment, one which America is continually failing to keep up with.

Projected allocation from 2016 to 2025 noted the continual allocation of less than half of what is needed in maintenance and repair cost for roads and bridges alone, leaving a quality gap which can lead to serious hazards.

With continual use of these ill-maintained infrastructures, a constant degradation is bound to occur in quality and strength which places direct beneficiaries of such infrastructure at a greater risk. However, a major challenge with maintenance also lies in the fact that the work is slow and expensive. Monitoring and maintaining infrastructures in rural and remote areas demand that maintenance and inspection team be on the ground, thus which may rather add to the cost of the overall process.

A significant way to however minimize the overall cost associated with inspection and maintenance lies in the use of drones. Drones can be used to inspect infrastructure, easing up the solution backlog and also guaranteeing lesser cost on the deployment of specialists to areas of interest.

Through professional commercial drone consulting, government and businesses can dramatically improve on their preventive maintenance services. Drone inspection offers a wide range of advantages to users including faster inspection time, delivery of high-quality data in regards to needed repairs, and also, safety considerations for personnel on the field.

With drones, an inspection of infrastructures like interstate bridges is made easier. Checking for cracks, surveying thousands of miles of transmission and distribution lines, pipeline monitoring and so much more are some of the few applications which drones have been proven effective at.

As part of the wide range of advantages which can be benefited from commercial drone consulting and drone use, below are some of the ways y which drones have been deployed to help the public, public agencies, and engineering firms.



1. Drones deployed for transmission and distribution lines

The field of engineering has enjoyed in full the wide range of advantages offered by drones. Ranging from the safety advantages to the cost-saving advantage, engineers and field workers have been known to deploy drones for several aspects of utility operations. One of the most common areas where the deployment of drones has become a major success in the area of power line inspection. Asides its cost-saving significance, engineers can also rely on drones to handle a wide range of tasks in as little time as possible.


2. Drones deployed for bridges, highways, culverts, underpasses, and overpasses

The cost of under bridge inspection vehicle required for traditional inspection is estimated at about $500,000 to $1million. The per day inspection cost ranges from between $2,000 to $3,500. However, with the use of drones, a more detailed inspection can be conducted for much less cost.

The Minnesota Department of Transportation also found drone use for bridge inspection to be cost-saving, depending on the configuration and location of the bridge. A trial run of the drone-assisted inspection was reported to have saved as much as 40 percent over the traditional inspection while also delivering superior data and reporting.



3. Deployment for oil and gas pipelines

Oil and gas, and produced water are transported routinely through 10 million kilometers of pipeline worldwide. However, the oil and gas industry has been estimated to spend as much as $37 billion annually on inspection and monitoring of the pipeline network. The cost has however been reduced by an estimated 90 percent with the use of drones, cutting back on the inefficiencies of the traditional inspection methods while also delivering detailed and comprehensive reports. With drone-assisted inspections, prevention of disasters such as contaminations from water leaks, environmental disasters and more is better controlled.


4. Solar plant inspections

Solar plant inspection can be a demanding and otherwise expensive project to set up. However, through the use of drone-assisted inspections, this has been simplified. A global consulting firm puts an estimate of between 30 to 40 percent cost saving on drone usage for thermographic inspection of utility-scale solar farms. With drones, infrared imaging of larger expanse of solar farms is faster, cost-effective and data reported are more accurate.

Through commercial drone consulting, several public agencies and corporate bodies have enjoyed faster inspections, efficient data, and been able to cut down on their overall cost of operation.

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