Cyberhawk Innovations, a provider of inspections and surveys using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), says it has been certified as an external specialist by the American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) in providing inspections for internal tanks using drones.
Achieving ABS recognition means that the data captured by Cyberhawk’s UAVs can now be used by ABS surveyors to make decisions affecting classification surveys of cargo oil tanks (COTs) and other bulk storage tanks on vessels, the company explains.
As part of the certification procedure, Cyberhawk completed two internal tank inspections on an Aframax-class oil tanker in collaboration with an ABS surveyor. The inspection took place in Portland, Ore., where the surveyor examined all safety and inspection processes required to accept Cyberhawk’s technique. The two inspections were part of a larger project involving a survey of all 14 COTs using a drone on a sister vessel. The project was completed in just six days by the Cyberhawk team.
ABS auditors also carried out a detailed review of Cyberhawk’s UAV equipment, operator training, and maintenance and inspection processes both at Cyberhawk headquarters in Scotland and on-site in the U.S.
Aside from significant time- and cost-savings, the use of drones means minimized risks to personnel, notes Cyberhawk. One current industry method for COT inspection on tankers is to use a technique called rafting, which involves filling the tank being inspected with water and allowing the ship surveyor to use a raft or dinghy to view critical inspection areas that are inaccessible from the tank floor. Rafting creates a large volume of oil-contaminated water, which has to be decanted from the vessel at a port that can handle such waste. However, the use of the drone eliminated the generation of oil-contaminated water and the safety risks associated with rafting, according to Cyberhawk.
“UAVs are enabling the next generation of marine and offshore surveys and inspections, providing less intrusive, safer and more efficient ways of assessing critical areas,” says ABS’ chief surveyor, Joseph Riva. “By applying ABS guidance, Cyberhawk was able to demonstrate its ability to carry out drone inspections and surveys, which can support the class survey process and provide additional savings and efficiencies to the owner and shipyard.”
Chris Fleming, CEO of Cyberhawk, says, “The feedback received from the auditors confirms what we already know – that UAVs offer an incredibly efficient solution when it comes to asset inspection across a multitude of industrial sectors. Few methods offer the same safety, time and cost advantages.”