How drone inspection, 3D Digital Twins and asset inspection software are transforming asset reliability programs

Effective inspection practices are crucial in asset-intensive industries to ensure safety, regulatory compliance, and operational efficiency. As industries continue to evolve and face new challenges, technology has emerged as a game-changer in streamlining maintenance operations by improving the efficiency of inspection processes. Drone inspection technology, combined with powerful asset inspection software, have revolutionized the way inspections are conducted, offering advanced features and capabilities to enhance data collection, analysis, asset insights and overall inspection management. This article explores the advantages of drone inspection combined with asset inspection software, highlighting their key features, benefits, case study example, and future trends. Additionally, it will address the data management challenges and considerations associated with implementing drone inspection, with advice for organizations seeking to optimize and streamline their asset inspection workflows and improve asset reliability by utilizing a flexible and scale asset inspection software platform.

Benefits of Drone Inspection in Asset Intensive Industries

The utilization of drones to conduct detailed inspections of equipment in difficult or dangerous to reach areas has emerged as a game-changing technology, offering a multitude of benefits to the industry. Firstly, drones provide unparalleled access to hard-to-reach areas, such as flare stacks, pipelines, cooling towers, transmission towers, building facades and offshore platforms, without the need for shutting down operating equipment or erecting scaffolding. This not only improves the safety of inspection personnel by reducing their exposure to hazardous environments, but also saves time, money and scarce inspection resources. Drones equipped with high-resolution cameras and sensors capture detailed images and emissions data, enabling thorough and accurate inspections. They can swiftly navigate vast areas and collect data in real-time, facilitating timely decision-making and proactive maintenance. Moreover, drones equipped with thermal cameras can detect temperature anomalies, enabling the early identification of equipment malfunctions or leaks. The use of drones significantly enhances the efficiency of inspections, reduces operational costs, and improves overall asset integrity across industries.

drone inspection in oil and gas
Drone inspection offers many safety, schedule and cost advantages to oil and gas companies looking to improve their asset inspection program performance. Optelos offers turnkey drone inspection services to companies looking to gain firsthand experience with drone inspection and 3D digital twins.

The Need for Effective Visual Data Management

While drones add innumerable benefits to inspection teams, the detailed inspection data and imagery is only beneficial if you can find it and access it. Managing image files can present several challenges, particularly when dealing with a large volume of massive image files, which is typically the case when conducting drone inspections utilizing high resolution cameras and sensors. This is doubly true when attempting to manage and share 3D Digital Twin models, which can be 300GB or larger. Effectively organizing and categorizing image files without a programmatic system in place is particularly difficult, making it a challenge to locate specific images when needed. The accumulation of numerous high-resolution images and 3D models can quickly consume valuable disk space, necessitating efficient storage solutions and backup strategies. Lastly, collaboration and sharing of image files can be challenging, especially when multiple individuals or teams are involved. Coordinating access, maintaining data security for sensitive inspection sites, annotating inspection issues directly on images or taking precise measurements on 3D models is also difficult without appropriate embedded tools and file viewers. Overcoming these difficulties requires a capable visual data management system, leveraging metadata and tagging capabilities, adopting appropriate storage solutions, and utilizing collaboration tools to streamline workflows and ensure the accessibility and security of image files. Optelos solves all of these issues in a single platform with an intuitive file management system and embedded tools that enable secure access, predictable file storage and powerful analytical capabilities.

Asset inspection software
Optelos is a visual data management system that’s intuitive, logical and visually based, allowing you to find what you’re looking for in seconds, and share with anyone, anywhere, regardless of the file size.

A Modern Approach to Asset Inspection Software

Asset-intensive industries operate under complex and challenging conditions, necessitating thorough inspections to ensure safety, regulatory compliance, operational excellence, and support turnaround and capital project programs. Traditional inspection methods, often reliant on manual processes and paperwork, pose several challenges in today’s fast-paced environment. However, with the increasing demand for transparency, efficiency, and risk mitigation, there is a growing need for advanced inspection software. The advantages of a modern, flexible and scalable asset inspection software like Optelos are numerous:

Skydio Integration

Automated Data Upload and Management

Drone asset inspections, especially autonomous drone inspections, create a lot of images. To manage all this data, it’s imperative that enterprises have an efficient image storage solution that offers streamlined data upload capabilities and placement, saving time and reducing errors by eliminating the need for manual image filing. By automating data upload and file storage, inspection teams can effectively manage vast amounts of visual data accurately with minimal effort. This automated approach simplifies a complex data management challenge, allowing for efficient organization, retrieval, and analysis of visual data. Optelos’ API integration with Skydio Cloud allows for automated data upload from autonomous drone missions, with automatic filing into the appropriate asset work package folders based on GPS coordinates.

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Real-time Monitoring, Analytics and Dashboards

A capable asset inspection software provides real-time monitoring of inspection activities, enabling supervisors and stakeholders to track progress and identify issues promptly. The software’s analytical capabilities leverage data to generate actionable insights via summarized dashboards, empowering decision-makers to identify trends, patterns, and potential risks. These insights facilitate proactive maintenance and enable data-driven decision-making.

Flare Stack Annotations

Enhanced Safety and Risk Mitigation

Asset inspection software improves safety by identifying potential hazards, monitoring compliance with safety protocols, and proactively addressing risks. By enabling systematic inspections, it helps identify and rectify safety issues promptly, reducing the likelihood of accidents, injuries, and environmental incidents. Additionally, the software supports predictive maintenance, allowing for early detection of equipment failures and minimizing the risk of unplanned downtime.

Oil and gas workflow

Workflow Management for Improved Operational Efficiency, Asset Reliability and Cost Savings

A good asset inspection software solution streamlines workflows, reducing manual effort and enabling faster inspections. The Optelos platform is customizable to your specific workflow, enabling teams to route reports, reviews and approvals by individual user level. By automating repetitive tasks and optimizing task assignments, organizations can enhance operational efficiency and productivity, as well as reduce oversight errors from manual work. Furthermore, the software’s ability to flag detected maintenance issues and route corrective actions in a timely manner helps minimize downtime, resulting in significant cost savings without increasing team workload. Work smarter, not harder.

turnkey drone inspection
Environmental Health and Safety

Regulatory compliance is a key concern for large companies in asset intensive industries, with stringent requirements imposed by governing bodies. The ability to track and demonstrate compliance through effective inspections is crucial to avoid penalties and maintain a positive reputation. Additionally, as operations become increasingly intricate and expansive, with facilities spread across vast geographic areas, manual inspections become time-consuming and prone to human error.

3D Digital Twin point cloud model of manufacturing site
Integrating with enterprise systems will improve the adoption and usability of your oil and gas inspection software, but the degree of integration and customization is dependent on your objectives.

Implementation and Integration of Asset Inspection Software

Successful implementation of asset inspection software requires some planning and integration with existing systems, but the degree of integration depends on what you’re trying to achieve. Customization of the software to address your specific industry needs may help drive optimal functionality and user adoption, but Optelos is a powerful system even when utilized without any customizations or integrations to other enterprise systems. While integration with other enterprise systems, such as asset management and maintenance systems or trouble ticketing and dispatch, allows for efficient data exchange and synchronization, it isn’t required to realize the benefits of drone inspection and enhanced inspection data visibility and leverage. As a SaaS solution, the Optelos system can be implemented without IT support and doesn’t require any other system integrations to offer meaningful benefits; it comes down to what you’re trying to accomplish and the complexity of your technology stack. If you have questions about the range of possibilities for customization to match your workflow and enterprise system integrations, reach out to our sales team for more information.

    Case Study: Successful Adoption of Asset Inspection Software

    Major Chemical Manufacturer

    By integrating Optelos asset inspection software into their operations, this F500 chemical manufacturer achieved significant operational improvements in their inspection processes. The software enabled real-time monitoring from SME teams across multiple geographies, enhanced data access and schedule visibility (including adjacent work site activity), resulting in reduced schedule conflicts and improved project completion to schedule.

    3D Digital Twin point cloud model of manufacturing site
    Group and track individual project areas separately, embed critical project plans, and annotate the 3D digital twin models with inspection notes, tasks or documents to enable safe maintenance actions and field operations.


    Completing turnaround maintenance actions is complex, time-consuming and expensive. Information required to complete these complicated maintenance actions often exists in multiple programs used by different supporting organizations in several locations. Drone data management can be challenging given its unstructured nature.  Gaining a complete, strategic view of an asset’s current state with all relevant documents can be extremely challenging.


    Our customer utilized the Optelos visual data management system as an organizing and visualization tool for their complex turnaround actions. By creating detailed digital twins of assets undergoing maintenance, they were able to append all required documentation to the 3D pointcloud models, complete thorough drone data analysis, and review in-depth equipment status and project schedules with relevant documents, manuals and inspection reports during regular team maintenance meetings, improving team collaboration and project oversight.


    Total operational improvements of up to 30% were observed by using digital twins as the basis for mapping and coordinating all asset inspection and turnaround activities. The platform facilitated project coordination, activity and schedule tracking, reducing reworks and scheduling conflicts by 31% and improving overall turnaround schedule completion by 26%.

    Future Trends and Innovations in Asset Inspection Software

    The future of asset inspection software holds exciting possibilities. Integration of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) technologies can enhance the software’s analytical capabilities, enabling predictive maintenance and anomaly detection. The Internet of Things (IoT) and sensor integration offer real-time monitoring of equipment and environmental conditions, allowing for proactive maintenance and risk mitigation. Additionally, the development of mobile applications facilitates remote inspections, reducing the need for physical presence and enhancing operational flexibility. All of these capabilities are supported within the Optelos platform, providing you with a flexible yet powerful visual data management platform that can grow with your evolving digital transformation initiatives.

      3D Digital Twin point cloud model of manufacturing site
      Take precise measurements directly on 3D digital twins to verify heights, boom radii, safety clearances and distance from key resources.


      Asset inspection software, along with drone inspection, plays a pivotal role in digitally transforming inspection processes, enhancing safety, improving operational efficiency, and facilitating regulatory compliance. By automating data collection, enabling real-time monitoring and analytics, and supporting proactive maintenance practices, organizations can optimize their asset inspection workflows. Embracing future trends, such as AI, ML, IoT, and mobile applications, will further revolutionize the industry by improving worker productivity and situational awareness. While challenges exist, addressing data security, legacy system compatibility, workflow customization and system integrations can drive increased user acceptance and pave the way for a successful implementation. All of these challenges are mitigated by adopting a flexible yet capable platform such as Optelos, and we stand ready to show you how we can easily adapt our platform to meet your specific inspection needs. Reach out to us today for a free consultation or product demonstration tailored to your industry.