Scaling an Enterprise Drone Inspection Program

by | Sep 29, 2020 | Blog, Optelos Blog | 0 comments

The benefits of drone inspection programs are well established in several industries, especially those with complex or distributed assets that require regular inspection, maintenance, or compliance verification. These industries include Power Utilities, Oil & Gas, Telecom, and Industrial Manufacturers. For companies in these sectors, getting started with a new drone program is fairly easy today, utilizing internal drone pilots, 3rd party drone service providers, or a hybrid approach to operate drones and collect data. While these options are a great way to get started, but if your planning to eventually scale your program enterprise wide in the future there are several factors to consider:

Ensure you can utilize many types of asset data as part of your analysis Integrated data viewers

All the visual data you’ll collect from your drone flights will bring significant value, but as your program grows you’ll want to also leverage design specifications, CAD data, IoT sensors and other asset information to solve more complex problems. So you’ll need to make sure your program has the ability to support and correlate multiple data sources.

Implement a data management system that can scale

As your visual inspection program grows, you’ll need to share data enterprise wide and collaborate with many stakeholders. Therefore, the most critical item in any program is implementing a scalable data management platform to support the needs of the enterprise today and in the future, that puts you in control of your own data.

Be prepared for AI

Even though you may not be leveraging AI today to automate fault detection and resolution, you’ll want to implement a program that can support AI as your needs change. If you select the right visual data management solution to get started, that platform should also serve as the basis for your AI development and deployment when that time comes.

Integrate with Internal Systems

As your program scales you will ultimately want to integrate with your internal workflows and systems such as trouble ticketing, inventory, dispatch, and other enterprise asset management systems. In order to achieve maximum benefit from your visual inspection program, you’ll want to fit into your business’ existing workflows. You should understand how maintenance and repair dispatches are performed, and how your program can leverage that existing capability. Similarly, with Inventory data, if you are using drones to perform stockpile measurements, you’ll want to directly impact inventory data. When selecting a software solution for your program be sure to choose a solution that supports easy integration into Enterprise Asset Management (and ERP systems like SAP, Infor, or ServiceNow.

Support for both internal Pilots and 3rd Party Drone Service Providers

As a drone, visual inspection program grows, invariably organizations start to develop their own expertise and capabilities, and in many cases start to use internal staff to operate their own drones and collect their own data. If fact most programs transition from 3rd party drone pilots to their own internal pilots over the first few years of the program. Therefore, it’s critical to implement a program that puts you in control of the data and the overall program, so you don’t get trapped with a single Drone Service Provider. Some things to keep in mind:

  • You’ll want to keep your visual data management software separate from your 3rd Party Drone Service Provider (DSPs). While some DSPs may offer software to manage the collected data, they often require you to use them for the flight operations and data collection thus limiting future scalability of your program.
  • You always want the flexibility to utilize any 3rd Party Drone operator or your own internal pilots to collect the data

If you keep these key points in mind, you will make the right decisions in selecting a software solution to manage your drone or visual inspection program and avoid many possible pitfalls as your program expands.

One way to think about possible software solutions to manage your drone or visual inspection program is to consider the solution’s core capabilities and ask these simple questions:

  1. Is the solution data agnostics and can ingest any type of data: images from drones, cell phones fixed camera, videos, thermal, Lidar, etc. and automatically geolocate that data?
  2. Can the solution correlate visual and non-visual data sources; CAD drawing, documents, and reports to better identify issues and compare planned designs to as built.
  3. Does the solution provide highly secure data management and provide a variety of user access privileges to support an enterprise level deployment?
  4. Can I process, manage, and view all my data including 2D and 3D models and digital twins within the platform?
  5. Does the solution support external contractors, and support any 3rd party drone service provider as well as internal pilots?
  6. Does the solution provide the required measurement and analytics capability to solve my specific problems?
  7. Is the solution AI capable and AI ready?
  8. Does the solution easily integrate to internal enterprise systems?
  9. Does the solution provide flexible deployment and customization options to fit my unique needs?

The following is simple block diagram of how to think about these major system components.

Optelos is expert at helping enterprise customer select the solution that’s right for them today and can scale to support their future needs as well. If your starting or growing a drone or visual inspection program, please contact us and find out how we can help you avoid the many pitfalls that lie ahead.

Contact us at info@optelos.com and let us help you start your digital transformation journey and see how you can realize significant cost savings in your asset management programs. .

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