Inspecting the towering flare stacks at petroleum refineries is tricky business. The current method of inspection is a costly, several day long process involving inspection teams and scaffolding. Due to safety and temperature concerns, the stacks must be shut down and allowed to cool prior to close human observation. Since the stacks require regular inspections, GE Ventures has been looking for a more cost effective method – and they think they’ve found it: an inspection drone.
Recently, they have begun testing the option of using UAV drones equipped with sensors to complete the inspections. This way, the systems and stacks can continue operation, as the temperature of the stacks isn’t a concern for drones.
Using an inspection drone is also beneficial because the inspections can be recorded. This is a more thorough means of inspection than an eye test, as video and information can be replayed at a later time.
GE estimates that the use of drones could reduce the inspection time by up to 50%.