Internal and external chimney inspection in Washington State, US

Case Study

Internal and external chimney inspection in Washington State, US

In April 2017, Cyberhawk completed an internal and external inspection of a 250ft stack at a refinery in Washington State, US.

UAVs were chosen as the preferred method of inspection primarily to reduce safety risk posed to personnel working at height, as well as the challenges associated with working in confined spaces.

During the inspection, the stack’s downstream system was offline and open to the environment during turnaround maintenance activities. This allowed air ingress into the stack, creating vortexes inside the confined space, creating a very challenging environment in which to fly the drone. Furthermore low light, and the added challenge of zero GPS signal inside the stack, meant Cyberhawk’s pilots had to work with an extremely high level of precision during the inspection to ensure a successful end result.

Traditionally, this type of inspection is conducted using a manned basket attached to a large mobile crane, with a technician in the basket lowered into the internal part of the stack. Using this method would have incurred significantly higher costs. In addition, the crane would restrict other work activities in the refinery during a turnaround, creating a negative impact on timescales and potentially extending the shutdown.

Cyberhawk’s solution not only mitigated the risks associated with confined space and working at height, but also provided a detailed inspection report on the condition of the asset. This allowed the client to prioritise maintenance decisions and thus minimise costs. Finally, there was minimal disruption to other work activities in the refinery during the drone operations.

Thanks to the skill and ability of Cyberhawk’s pilots, the inspection of the critical components was successfully completed within two days. This compares with rope access which would usually take weeks to complete the same workscope.

Share this post: