Air Control Entech (ACE) and the Oil & Gas Technology Centre have reached a major milestone, with the launch of three state-of-the-art unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), which aim to reduce offshore oil and gas inspection costs by up to 50%.
While UAVs are typically used for visual inspection, ACE’s next generation technology delivers a step change in capability and functionality, delivering faster, more accurate and cost-efficient inspection.
Rather than modifying an existing design, ACE has worked with industry partners to design these new UAVs to meet specific requirements and tackle real challenges companies face in the inspection of offshore facilities.
The units provides real-time, high-definition video stream and data transfer from offshore inspections to onshore teams. This can reduce the size of offshore inspection teams and significantly improve the speed and efficiency of reporting.
They delivers faster, smarter and repeatable non-destructive testing. Using electromagnets to lock onto a structure, the UAV uses less power, enabling longer flight times and repeated readings at a single location. Advanced cameras accurately position the UAV and a bespoke data management system provides clients with instant access to results.
Cutting-edge technology enables the scanning of offshore structures to within 2-millimetre accuracy, significantly improving the accuracy of re-engineering projects by obtaining point cloud data from inaccessible locations.
ACE has already secured early-stage technology trials with a number of major operators, that will see the new UAVs deployed on North Sea facilities. These trials will provide valuable feedback that will be used to further improve functionality and capability.
The next phase of the project will see the development of a UAV for use in confined spaces, as well as research and development into flight control systems and improved flight performance through battery technology.
Rebecca Allison, Asset Integrity Solution Centre Manager, said: “We’re pleased with the progress of our project with Air Control Entech and it’s great to see three new UAVs ready to be deployed. Our goal is to eliminate the impact of asset integrity on operational uptime by 2026 and developing advanced UAVs is vital.“The feedback and support of our industry partners has been instrumental, so it’s no surprise that there is already wide-spread interest in trialling the technology.”
Kieran Hope, Managing Director for Air Control Entech, said: “We are delighted to have completed the initial milestones for our project with the Oil & Gas Technology Centre. We now have three cutting-edge UAVs which are ready to be deployed. The support from the Centre has been excellent and it’s helped us deliver technology that makes essential inspection work smarter, faster and safer.
“We look forward to continuing our UAV development with the Centre and delivering technology that adds value to the industry and reduces costs for operators.”