Drones as the proverbial “eye in the sky” and revolutionary imaging technologies, for example Google Street View, have led to astounding new ways of interacting with the world we live in. Refining and enhancing these techniques for its own industry-related purposes, the Australian KLINGER company ATMECO offers its customers both bird’s eye and detailed 3D views of their facilities. Join us as we take a closer look.
Formed in 2002, ATMECO’s mission is to ensure the component integrity of its clients’ facilities. “Our work in the energy and resource sector has shown that between five and twelve percent of the utilized components are mechanically compromised,” explains Silvio Stojic, Managing Director of ATMECO, and adds: “Even new plants can have component emission rates as high as five percent.” For a plant operator, these findings do not bode well: They result in product and energy losses, increased plant operation costs and may also pose a threat to assets, personnel and the environment. The good news is that the only component integrity specialist in the Asia Pacific region has built up an impressive array of detection technologies and services to pinpoint the source of even the most fleeting losses.
“Our survey and detection technologies are tailored to meet the industry requirements of our customers,” states Silvio, “ATMECO’s scope includes integrity surveys for the detection of gas, vapor and liquid leaks as well as emission surveys, which are used for process, bioreactors, landfill and sewage treatment plants.” For its latest service offering, the Australian leak detection and maintenance specialist took to the skies: Under the abbreviation RPAS – Remote Piloted Aerial Systems – ATMECO now uses drones for the short and long-range monitoring of pipeline infrastructure and for pipe crack detection. Capturing the images, however, is only the first step. “To provide our customers with a state of the art representation, we carry out monoscopic or stereoscopic surveys and subsequently create 3D models of the facilities we have inspected.” This is typically achieved by means of a 360° camera mounted on the drone in the case of aerial surveys, or via a camera stand in the event of ground-based assignments. The individual images, around 50 for small sections and up to 1,000 for large areas of a facility, are then stitched together to create three-dimensional, interactive visualizations. The customer can access the 3D models through ATMECO’s proprietary Component Integrity Management System, also known as CIMS. As the images are digitalized, they can also be tagged with additional information. “We not only highlight detected leaks, but can also report on the condition of the assets themselves,” states Silvio, “in other words, the customer can review the actual state of his facilities and verify our findings by virtually walking through them.”
"To provide our customers with a state of the art representation, we carry out monoscopic or stereoscopic surveys and subsequently create 3D models of the facilities we have inspected."
Silvio Stojic, Managing Director of ATMECO
Working with drones provides a number of benefits. First and foremost among them is the relative ease with which challenging areas can be reached: Using an aerial drone to inspect water towers, flare stacks, and even the corresponding ducts might still involve some ace-flying on the side of the company’s certified drone operators, but it is significantly less time-consuming and decidedly more cost-effective than a manual, rope-access inspection. Furthermore, entire pipe systems and confined spaces are now also well within reach – by means of drones that crawl along the corresponding interior sections. “Our RPAS offering was initially developed to provide our customers with immediate critical asset integrity survey outcomes,” summarizes Silvio, “as a result of our outstanding success we have now branched out into other industries as well: Next to traditional oil & gas production facilities, water technology and the process industry, RPAS services are now also available for utility distribution networks as well as for the pulp & paper, the power generation, and the dairy industry.”