The energy sector handles a multitude of assets like boilers, smokestacks, transformers and other equipment, all needing regular inspection.
Analysis of the main problems affecting boilers has shown that, inside exhaust gas flues, the shock waves caused by combustion can lead to cases of erosion/corrosion and structural damage. The same problems also occur in smokestacks, where silencers are subject to acid corrosion from the fumes.
Given the height above ground of inspection points (about 10 metres in the case of boilers and 20 metres for smokestacks), in both cases, scaffolding has to be erected and operatives have to work in confined spaces at considerable heights.
With the introduction of FLY in CCGT (combined cycle gas turbine), we have developed a drone able to provide support in inspection activities. With their great agility, drones can handle the monitoring and maintenance of areas to be inspected, like the large boilers found in thermo-electric systems, more rapidly and more accurately.
This technology is currently being used at various facilities, including all thermo-electric plants – with the first trials taking place at the Sermide thermo-electric power plant – and also the hydro-electric plant in Calabria.
The advantages are numerous, ranging from greater protection of the workforce to time-cost optimization.
More specifically, the main benefits fall into the following areas:
Analysis of initial data gathered at facilities where this technology has been in use and then compared with data provided by traditional inspection work has provided important results, which can be summarized as follows:
In conclusion, then, this technological innovation makes it possible to work more safely, to carry out monitoring activities more quickly, to save time and improve the quality of information, which can be gathered and stored in a database.