Sustaining infrastructure requires good design, construction and handover, but ultimately, it’s the operating context and the inspection and asset care program that dictate how well an asset will perform over its lifetime and how long it will last. Know what the latest breakthrough in technology for maintenance inspections is? Drones!

Bentley Systems CEO Greg Bentley recently announced the acquisition of Acute 3D while at the ARC Advisory Group’s Industry Forum. Bentley shared his insights on how this software can dramatically enhance productivity, turning a simple series of digital photos taken with a smart camera mounted on a drone into a 3D reality mesh model. The result is a compact, intelligent representation of the asset in its current operating context. He confidently predicted there will be a drone in every major infrastructure maintenance organization by 2016. Using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and normal digital photography, inspectors can observe existing conditions, then track and trend the condition over time with the ability to compare to the design basis or any point in its life. In fact, there are a growing number of uses of drones in industrial maintenance, reliability and integrity inspections.

Creating 3D Plant/Asset Drawings

Many existing plants have no information model, no accurate records and possibly some unreliable or outdated 2D drawings. If you are operating in an existing plant with poor engineering records, today you can now capture a precise 3D model using simple digital photographs taken from UAVs using software to render an information model that you can maintain going forward. It’s called reality modeling. You can then take updated photos to observe current state and compare them to the model as time goes on. To model a given plant/asset, the image acquisition process requires a minimum of three sharp overlapping photographs. Anyone following this rule will be able to capture suitable imagery data sets, whether using a smartphone, a compact digital single-lens reflex (DSLR) camera, or a high resolution professional camera like those used for airborne acquisition.

Conducting Inspections on Infrastructure Assets in Hard to Reach Areas

From structural integrity issues on bridges and roads to wind turbine blades and rig inspections to pipeline monitoring for wall thickness, welds, corrosion and other structural integrity issues, UAVs with mounted cameras are helping maintenance organizations to more easily and cost-effectively observe these out of reach conditions. Bridge and road inspections, especially as regulatory guidelines move towards reliability- based inspection practices, will require flexibility as the frequency of inspections changes based on operating context. Water and power utilities are benefiting from unmanned drones using high definition sonar to conduct subsea inspections. All in all, the use of drones can make what used to be a difficult and costly task an easier and more cost-effective one.

Drones and reality modeling can and should be part of every maintenance organization and every proactive maintenance workflow to dramatically enhance productivity and safety in infrastructure asset inspections.

About the Author
Sandra DiMatteo leads the marketing strategy and positioning for Bentley's asset management and operations products.

Upcoming Events

August 9 - August 11 2022

MaximoWorld 2022

View all Events
80% of newsletter subscribers report finding something used to improve their jobs on a regular basis.
Subscribers get exclusive content. Just released...MRO Best Practices Special Report - a $399 value!
Optimizing Value From Physical Assets

There are ever-increasing opportunities to create new and sustainable value in asset-intensive organizations through enhanced use of technology.

Conducting Asset Criticality Assessment for Better Maintenance Strategy and Techniques

Conducting an asset criticality assessment (ACA) is the first step in maintaining the assets properly. This article addresses the best maintenance strategy for assets by using ACA techniques.

Harmonizing PMs

Maintenance reliability is, of course, an essential part of any successful business that wants to remain successful. It includes the three PMs: predictive, preventive and proactive maintenance.

How an Edge IoT Platform Increases Efficiency, Availability and Productivity

Within four years, more than 30 per cent of businesses and organizations will include edge computing in their cloud deployments to address bandwidth bottlenecks, reduce latency, and process data for decision support in real-time.

MaximoWorld 2022

The world's largest conference for IBM Maximo users, IBM Executives, IBM Maximo Partners and Services with Uptime Elements Reliability Framework and Asset Management System is being held Aug 8-11, 2022

6 Signs Your Maintenance Team Needs to Improve Its Safety Culture

When it comes to people and safety in industrial plants, maintenance teams are the ones who are most often in the line of fire and at risk for injury or death.

Making Asset Management Decisions: Caught Between the Push and the Pull

Most senior executives spend years climbing through the operational ranks. In the operational ranks, many transactional decisions are required each day.

Assume the Decision Maker Is Not Stupid to Make Your Communication More Powerful

Many make allowances for decision makers, saying some are “faking it until they make it.” However, this is the wrong default position to take when communicating with decision makers.

Ultrasound for Condition Monitoring and Acoustic Lubrication for Condition-Based Maintenance

With all the hype about acoustic lubrication instruments, you would think these instruments, once turned on, would do the job for you. Far from it!

Maintenance Costs as a Percent of Asset Replacement Value: A Useful Measure?

Someone recently asked for a benchmark for maintenance costs (MC) as a percent of asset replacement value (ARV) for chemical plants, or MC/ARV%.