Cyberhawk Innovations, a Scotland-based provider of unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) inspections, says it has completed its first commercial internal steam boiler inspection, which was done for a power company in Bulgaria.
The project was carried out at an operational thermal power plant and included a visual inspection of all equipment for integrity and damage assessment.
The company says UAVs were selected for this project in order to reduce the safety risk posed to personnel working at height, as well as the restrictions associated with working in confined spaces. This type of work is typically conducted by rope-access technicians, says Cyberhawk, which notes that there was no GPS signal inside of the dark steam boiler.
Cyberhawk mobilized a three-man team, consisting of a UAV pilot, inspection engineer and technician. The inspection of the critical components was completed within a day – in comparison, a rope-access method would usually take 3-4 days, says the company.
“The boiler environment is very different from what we are used to; it’s a dark and dusty environment, presenting a whole host of additional operational challenges,” explains Philip Buchan, commercial director at Cyberhawk. “The lack of GPS signal meant our pilot had to work with extra precision to produce the desired close visual inspection results.”