Frequently asked questions (FAQ)
Using professional UAV Inspection services, an asset manager can reduce the time that inspection personnel need to spend on the asset itself. So long as a mission’s flight route has been well planned, a drone can collect imagery data that covers the entire asset in a fraction of the time that it takes for inspection personnel to traverse it. It is usual that both visual and thermal imagery is collected.
After applying automated statistical processes to convert the imagery into a 3D ‘point cloud’, it is straightforward for skilled interpreters can identify locations and areas of deterioration on the building envelope. Since the data is being viewed in 3D, all areas of your asset can be visually interpreted and inspected.
As the data in the point cloud is geo-referenced with real-world geographic coordinates, a plan or a map can be provided to an inspection and maintenance team to identify areas of deterioration – before anyone needs to climb any ladders, scaffolding, undertake rope access procedures, or walk on the roof.
Yes, we do! You can download your sample report here.
Data collected by us is held within a private cloud architecture, hosted by the IBM Data Centre. We pre-approve our flight plans with the facility manager of the site before we fly, we only capture photos in accordance with this plan; all data is stored and analyzed beyond client-specific log-in credentials and levels of security.
We believe in deploying project teams that have the relevant qualifications, expertise and experience at each stage of the project, from data collection through to analysis and reporting. We also believe in working closely with our clients. In addition to the qualifications and experiences that we demand of our flight crew, our software tools are built with the necessary underlying rigour by a development team equipped with relevant PhDs. Where we report results, we use certified image interpreters and building inspectors. Our software and data delivery solutions are also designed to enable local experts at our client’s site to perform the analysis that we utilize in our consistent reporting structure, if this is preferred.
You can download a sample report here.
Flying at night is a best-practice approach for building inspection, as it is at night that the building releases thermal energy that has been absorbed during the day, and deuterated elements of the building envelope can clearly be seen.
New fight regulations and approvals have been defined for nighttime drone flights though. With our background in avionics and risk management, Industrial SkyWorks has led the market in North America by working with Transport Canada and the FAA to define the necessary regulations and standards; and have since been the first UAV operator in North America to obtain nighttime permissions in BOTH the US and Canada. Needless to the say, the requirements for risk mitigation for nighttime flight are more onerous than during daylight hours. Even now, only a handful of operators have secured nighttime authority in either country.
- If you operate professional UAV flight operations, and:
- have qualified inspection personnel on staff;
Our software solution is what is needed to improve the efficiency and quality of the analytical reports relied upon by your organization.
Industrial Skyworks operates a fleet of professional-grade UAV platforms. The platform that we choose for a specific project will depend upon several factors such as the weight of the payload (i.e. how many cameras, and what type), the flight duration required by our flight plan, and the expected weather conditions expected onsite.
We typically operate multicopter platforms that permit controlled multi-axis maneuvers, can perform sustained hovering over areas of interest, utilized professional flight controllers with precise auto-pilot capabilities, industry-standard fail-safes, and the ability to easily operate in sustained winds of around 25mph (40kph).
A ‘point cloud’ is a cluster of data points that has each been assigned a coordinate in accordance with a three-dimensional (i.e. x, y, z) axis. Data points in a point cloud have usually been collected at very fine intervals across the surface an object (e.g. an asset, such as a flare stack) In the case of point clouds produced from drone photography, there will typically be at least one data point registered in accordance with each pixel in the photos.
If viewed in its entirety, it is usually straightforward to be able to visualize the form of the asset in question from the outline of this cluster of points.
Since the point cloud consists of individual data points that have been produced by statistically correcting for common distortions that are seen in conventional photography, an interpreter can be confident in the location of any fatigue that they see on the asset.
To best analyse the condition of an asset, and to comply with many industrial inspection procedures; we typically fly both optical and thermal photography. First, we survey-in ground control points that provide us with a geographic framework in which to apply geographic coordinates to the information that we report back to the client. We fly our UAV platforms in a manner that ensures photographs have enough overlap and redundancy for the next stage in our analysis procedure, and provide complete visual coverage over the entire building envelope.
Underpinned by tried-tested statistical methods, we then perform a process known as dense image matching to generate a three-dimensional ‘point cloud’ dataset. Working in 3D enables an interpreter to see differences in roof elevation and incorporate the building façade into their diagnosis.
Utilizing thermal imagery in addition to conventional photographs is then one of the key indicators that enable us to identify heat loss through the building structure, and crucially areas of moisture. Typically, a certified thermographic interpreter will interpret these data to infer condition of the building envelope.
Image interpretation can be tiring work though, and one interpreter may not be an expert in the entire image processing and analysis procedure. Industrial Skyworks has therefore developed a processing solution that works within a web browser to generate clear automated reporting. Our software tools perform the necessary statistical processing operations to generate the point cloud for the entire building. The user interface then guides the inspection personnel around the building in a systematic manner. The interpreter is then able to visual annotate and mark areas of interest on the model. The locations of these annotations are then automatically provided with a real-world geographic coordinate, and recorded as a separate record in the analytical report that is generated.
The result is an analytic report for the entire building envelope, that has been produced efficiently by a qualified team; which can now be used by the asset owner to better target their maintenance schedules to specific locations on the building, and reduce their health and safety risk accordingly.
If flying a drone (or UAV) as part of your job, care needs to be taken to follow the regulations for commercial flight operations in the jurisdiction where you are performing the flight. At an absolute minimum, in the US this means obtaining and complying with regulations set-out in the Federal Aviation Authority’s Part 107 certification process, in Canada this means obtaining the relevant Special Flight Operations Certificate from Transport Canada and complying with the Canadian Aviation Regulations.
In addition, all operations should be performed under the coverage of full and relevant professional insurances that cover both UAV fight operations, together with service operations and deliverables from the project. Depending upon the type and location of the project that is being undertaken, additional non-UAV related professional qualifications may be required by members of your team. For example, in some States, a Professional Surveyor designation is required to perform some types of survey or inspection work. There are also image analysis certifications that are required for producing some types of deliverable.
At Industrial Skyworks, our professional backgrounds cover commercial airline flight operations, accident investigation, research and operational activities in the field of geographic information systems, and industrial image interpretation. We believe that operating with just those qualifications demanded by the local regulations is only the start. Regulations provide a legal framework in which to operate, but do not instill the skill of safe flight operations into a pilot.
Regardless of experience, our pilots undertake extensive test flights within a controlled environment at our facility before being deployed on a commercial project. Our software development team hold PhDs that equip them with extensive experience in point cloud analytics, 3D modelling, and geospatial statistics and quality measures. The thermographic reporting that is provided under our building inspection services practice is performed by ASNT certified thermographic interpreters.
Flying the drone is only a small part in providing drone inspection services, at Industrial SkyWorks we believe that professional experience needs to underpin the entire process of delivering a service to your customer.