Exhibition & Conference

13-16 September 2021

Singapore EXPO, Singapore

Technical Programme

Phil Buchan

Commercial Director


12:15 - 12:45

Thursday, 19 September 2019

T2.8 RESERVE: Transforming tank integrity management using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV)

Tank and terminal owners must ensure their assets are inspected to (and comply with) specific industry standards. Particularly as assets age, more frequent inspection is needed. Implementing a rigorous inspection and maintenance programme means that any problem areas can be identified, closely monitored and addressed at the appropriate time before failure occurs.

Typically, this is done using techniques such as rope access, scaffolding/staging or elevated work platforms however these methods can be costly, time consuming and present safety risks, such as working at height.

The introduction of UAVs as an access tool, however, has mitigated these challenges and this technology is becoming increasingly adopted within the gas sector.

Recently, Cyberhawk conducted an internal inspection of a large water storage tank at a UK gas terminal. A two-man team (an industry qualified inspector and an experienced pilot) examined the quality of pipe support fittings, as well as the internal surface of the storage tank. The inside of the asset was fully inspected while the team remained outside to fly the UAV.

The work scope was completed in one day, followed by an inspection report which enabled the client to understand the tank's defects in detail. Despite numerous challenges, such as limited light and no GPS signal inside the tank, as well as adverse weather, the project generated significant time and cost savings.

More recent developments in tank integrity management has been the use of drone-captured data to create a digital twin of the tank. Using cloud-based software, multiple asset teams and contractors can access the same central source of data and use inspection results to make evidence-based decisions. This visual, digital inspection report is particularly useful for onshore staff to analyse defects and problem areas from their desk.

Inspection results can also be compared with historic data sets to monitor known defects and identify trends, helping to better plan and focus any further inspection and maintenance required.

Technology advances have also meant that drone-based contact NDT is becoming possible, with these unmanned aircraft now able to conduct UT testing. This technique is API653 and EEMUA-159 compliant, e.g. a full API653 grid of 300 points can be executed in less than one day.

Cyberhawk will discuss these latest innovations in drone-based tank asset integrity programmes, using case studies to provide factual evidence of the technology in action, and discuss what the future holds for this technology.