Automate Tank Roof Inspections with the Advanced Energy Robotics Drone Solution

June 25, 2024

Tank terminal operators are using the Energy Robotics Platform to deploy drones for cost-effective and reliable tank-roof inspections. The drone solution enables operators to execute automated inspection flights from anywhere, with no onsite pilots required (BVLOS-approved in the EU).

Manual inspection of floating roof tanks involves operators regularly climbing 25-meter-high tanks to check the condition of the roof. Tank terminals typically consist of dozens of such tanks, making manual inspection a time-consuming, tedious, and potentially dangerous process, prone to human error. Energy Robotics, the leading AI-driven autonomous inspection solution provider, is empowering asset owners to overcome this challenge with a fully-automatic drone inspection solution.

Increase safety standards, reduce costs and collect higher quality data

The drone completes 8 hours' worth of tiring manual tank inspections in just 30 minutes and can be controlled remotely by operators and sent on automated flights with no on-site presence necessary. This feature is enabled by the game changing Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) approval that Energy Robotics has achieved in multiple locations in Germany. Thus, operators are freed from physically demanding manual inspection rounds and can focus on other high-value roles. In the long run, this benefits their health, allowing them to retire in better physical condition when they reach retirement age. The drone solution is also extremely cost-effective, enabling asset owners to achieve a return on their investment within a year.

Fully automatic AI-driven inspections with no human intervention

When an operator executes an automated flight, the drone takes off from its docking station and flies with no human intervention, accurately capturing the desired inspection data. The drone completes its flight plan by automatically landing in its docking station and uploading the collected data directly to the cloud. The uploaded data is then processed by AI (Artificial Intelligence) applications to deliver actionable insights.  

The hassle of having operators on-site to observe drone flights, to exchange batteries, or to retrieve memory cards for accessing inspection data is eliminated.  

During automatic flights in tank terminals, the drone captures high-resolution color and thermal images to check if the seal on the tank roof is intact, monitor the presence of rainwater, and inspect the condition of the grounding cables. These images are processed by AI applications in the cloud to accurately detect, for example, water levels on the roof.

Operator supervising a drone and a robot performing automated inspections from the control room using the robot-agnostic Energy Robotics platform (Image Courtesy: Shell)

Industry-proven technology adding value to daily operations

Asset owners can also onboard robots for ground-based inspections and manage their fleet of ground robots and drones through a single interface. Shell has deployed such a mixed fleet in its largest site in Germany using the Energy Robotics solution. "We are proud to have put a mixed fleet of autonomous inspection robots and a drone into operation as part of our innovation and digitalization efforts. The different specifications of the individual models give us the flexibility we need to inspect many inspection points automatically," explains Thomas Klein, Digital Innovation Lead, Shell Energy and Chemicals Park Rheinland.

Co-Founder and CEO of Energy Robotics, Marc Dassler says, "Regular monitoring of tank terminals is vital for safe and efficient operations. However, manual inspection is a tedious task that ties up experienced staff. Our AI-driven software empowers automated drones and autonomous robots to collect high-quality data for asset maintenance and efficient operations. Our drone solution is regulation-ready with multiple BVLOS approvals, which have strengthened our ties with the German authorities, paving the way for accelerated approvals for future deployments.”

Energy Robotics and ANYbotics are pleased to announce a strategic partnership that will transform asset monitoring through comprehensive end-to-end inspection solutions.

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Vladimir Margolin
Vice President Global Sales