ABJ DataVue: A Disruptive Drone Technology
As the renewable energy industry continues to grow globally, the amount of maintenance required grows with it. Wind turbines and solar farms need regular inspections to ensure they are functioning optimally. With all those inspections comes a mountain of data. Data that needs to be sorted, stored, and converted into actionable steps regarding part replacements and ongoing maintenance recommendations. ABJ Drones has a solution: DataVue.
DataVue is ABJ’s solution to the expanding data problem. It is an online repository where all inspection information is stored, annotated, and turned into useful and actionable reports. It uses an intuitive user interface and is location-based, so a company can easily browse through vast quantities of data for assets of all different kinds. While the focus is renewables, DataVue is designed to handle any kind of image-based asset inspection. Transmission and distribution lines, building facades, infrared roof scans, construction site progress tracking, stockpile management, site surveying, and more.
How Our Drone Data Processing Software Works
When an asset needs to be inspected, a wind turbine for example, ABJ sends out a licensed drone pilot to capture detailed imagery of the entire structure. That imagery is then uploaded to DataVue and analysed by ABJ’s industry experts. Any and all issues are annotated and classified according to damage type and severity, and recommendations for further actions are included as well. A final report is prepared according to client specifications and it is delivered along with personal login information to access the DataVue online portal. The portal grants access to everything, including that specific inspection and any other work completed by ABJ for the client. If this is the 50th turbine inspection completed by ABJ, the client can easily access any of the 50 inspections with a few clicks.
ABJ Drones is primarily a drone company and they are experts in just about everything the drone industry has to offer from specialized drone manufacturing and product sales, to pilot training and consultation. Their forte is providing professional drone services to major clients in the renewables industry. With an extensive pilot network of trained, licensed professionals, they conduct drone inspections of wind turbines and solar farms throughout the US and Europe with specially built platforms and sensors.
Technology clearly plays a big part in this story. UAVs, or ‘drones’, as the world loves to call them are available in all shapes, sizes and configurations. Some for general purposes and some highly specific.
A professional UAV must be built for the specific function. It must have the right equipment and payload and enough fuel in the tank, with extra just in case. It needs safety features and it needs to be fit for the purpose.
Wind farms are naturally built to capture the energy of the wind and this inherently makes them very windy places. Tough conditions need tough equipment and outstanding capability.
Advanced Sensor Technology
Geared specifically towards the renewable industry, ABJ has developed a unique system and flight platform that offers a distinct technical advantage when inspecting turbine blades. The system uses a specialised aircraft designed and developed to conduct inspections in adverse conditions.
The aircraft can handle wind up to 15 M/S and beyond (33.5 MPH+ / 54.0 KPH+) with full stability. The use of RTK systems allow for absolute holding precision down to 5cm. This combined with multiple redundancies such as motor/rotor and battery failure, alongside data link redundancy and collision avoidance, make for an extremely safe and capable platform.
The magic really starts to happen with the payload. Using multiple payloads to capture high-resolution optical data and enhanced thermal data make the system unique in its capability of being able to see into the blade structure up to 15cm whilst in situ on the turbine.
The system is revealing faults beneath the surface of the blade that simply cannot be seen with the naked eye or pure optical inspection. Faults such as internal damage, delamination, bad bonding, and foreign objects are common discoveries alongside lightning strike damage where the lightning has not been accurate enough to hit the conductor. When linked with the equivalent optical images and the reporting structure, stakeholders and engineers are able to fully assess the condition of the asset and prepare a necessary course of action in minimal time, thus increasing efficiencies and cost savings.
A typical full inspection requires the turbine to be stopped for less than 1 hour, vastly reducing downtime and maximising data intelligence.
Piloting and Operational Skills
In order to inspect safely and efficiently, ABJ Drones’ crew members must understand their subject and be completely confident in their actions. Inspection flight crews are handpicked for their extensive knowledge and experience in aviation and practical flight capability with extensive operational flight hours logged. They are put through a rigorous training regime that encompasses thermography, flight operations, and technical knowledge of the wind industry. All are “heavy lift” experienced UAV pilots with a wealth of experience and a 100% safety record.
Controlling Your Data
Inspection information is only useful when the right people have access to it and can understand it. To this end, DataVue has many features designed to make it as easy as possible.
Most importantly, clients have complete control over who sees what. With as many login accounts as the client needs, a site manager for a company can be given access to only data from their own site, while a country manager can have access to all sites for the country. This ensures that individuals aren’t overloaded with information and it allows them to focus more of their energy on what matters most to them.
In addition to tiered access control by location and asset type, DataVue also gives clients the option to use their own inspectors. If the client wants their own in-house teams to analyse the images, or to have the ability to add additional comments to ABJ completed inspections, accounts can be created with only those permissions. People who only need to see the results are given accounts with viewing permission. This way your data remains both secure and accessible to all relevant parties.
Keeping It All Sorted
DataVue makes full use of image metadata and custom added tags to keep everything neatly organized. At a high level, inspections are sorted by location, date, and asset type. Within each inspection, the images and annotations are further organized by issue type, severity, and other important identifiers like on which blade the defect occurs for turbines. Users can easily filter their data by any of these categories to quickly bring up exactly what they need.
ABJ’s system also allows clients to track changes in their assets over time. As routine inspections are completed, imagery and annotations are uploaded and linked to their respective assets.
One of the most important parts of a complete inspection is the expert recommendations for further actions. Is the turbine blade defect severe enough that it needs to be replaced? Will less intensive repairs suffice? Or maybe the issue doesn’t require immediate action, but should still be re-checked during the next inspection with a careful eye. Actionable information like this is paramount to keeping everything operational and running at maximum efficiency.
In order to help clients make the most informed maintenance decisions possible, ABJ is developing an AI system. It is designed to sift through a vast database of inspections and track the progression of problems. By monitoring how different issues develop over time, the AI will be able to predict how urgently repairs are needed. If 80% of the time a certain kind of internal delamination of a turbine blade will lead to catastrophic failure within 6 months, that’s extremely valuable information for turbine operators. If an issue is unlikely to cause larger problems, that’s helpful to know too.
Contact Us Today
ABJ Drones is revolutionizing renewable energy asset inspections using advanced, disruptive technology.
ABJ offers thermal blade inspections as a global service and can deploy its specialist teams around the world. Our approach is consultative, flexible, and above all workable.
If you are interested in learning more about our disruptive wind turbine blade inspection technology, contact us today at +44 330 223 4555 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.