BV joins enclosed spaces drone survey project

Bureau Veritas has joined a project investigating the use of drones in structural and coating surveys Bureau Veritas has joined a project investigating the use of drones in structural and coating surveys

Classification society Bureau Veritas has joined a joint investment project (JIP) to develop drones with the capability to inspect steel structures in enclosed spaces.

The Remote Evaluation of Coatings/Corrosion on Offshore Machinery and Marine Structures/Ships (RECOMMS) project aims to develop a steady, stable and reliable drone capable of following programmable flight paths - either pre-determined by software or flown by a pilot, using ship-specific training programmes via a 3D simulator.

“The end goal is to be able to survey cargo spaces, ballast tanks and confined spaces remotely and effectively,” said Jean-François Segretain, technical director, Bureau Veritas, Marine & Offshore. “If we can do this with drones we can help reduce risks to our surveyors and ship crews by minimising the need to erect expensive staging which would require surveyors to work at height or perform tank inspections by means of rafting.”

In the first phase, the drone will be designed to carry an HD camera as well as lighting and batteries to perform structural and coating inspections within a ballast tank. It is estimated that eliminating the need for staging erected for class renewal surveys could save around US$90,000 for a VLCC or US$40,500 for a capesize bulk carrier, based on dry-docking costs in China for ships of ten years or older.

As a secondary goal the project will address the potential for inspection of open space marine structures, such as offshore wind turbine blades. The drone will be designed to carry further sensor equipment, with the end goal of performing paint and coating application analysis as well as steel thickness measurement. Paint coating and plate thickness gauging equipment manufacturers are already involved, with others being encouraged to join the project to develop specialised sensor equipment.

Key investment partners include Akzo Nobel, Barrier Group, Bureau Veritas, Drone Ops, Hempel Paints, Marine Technical Limits and an undisclosed oil company. Coating specialists and consultants Safinah is managing the project.

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