Confined space drone inspections | What you need to know
Drones can be useful tools for inspecting confined spaces, as they can navigate tight areas and capture high-resolution images and video footage without the need for a human inspector to physically enter the space.
Here are some ways that drones can be used for confined space inspections:
- Inspection of tanks and vessels: Drones can be used to inspect the inside of tanks and vessels without the need for workers to enter the confined space. The drone can be equipped with a high-resolution camera or thermal imaging system to capture images of the inside of the tank or vessel and identify any potential issues.
- Inspection of pipelines: Drones can be used to inspect pipelines from the inside, allowing inspectors to identify any corrosion, cracks, or other damage that could compromise the integrity of the pipeline.
- Inspection of mines and tunnels: Drones can be used to inspect the inside of mines and tunnels to identify potential safety hazards or structural issues. The drone can be equipped with a camera and lighting system to capture images and video footage of the area.
- Inspection of buildings and structures: Drones can be used to inspect the inside of buildings and structures, such as crawl spaces and attics, to identify potential issues with the structure or systems within.
However, it is important to note that confined space inspections using drones still require careful planning and execution to ensure safety and compliance with regulations. The drone operator must be trained and certified, and all safety precautions must be taken to prevent accidents or equipment damage.
Caged drone inspections
A caged drone is a type of unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) that has a protective cage around it. This type of drone is commonly used for inspections in hazardous environments where there is a risk of collision or damage to the drone.
Here are some ways that a caged drone can be used for hazardous site inspections:
- Inspecting high-risk areas: The protective cage around the drone can allow it to safely navigate through areas with obstacles, such as narrow tunnels or confined spaces, where a regular drone may be at risk of collision or damage.
- Monitoring hazardous materials: The drone can be used to monitor and detect hazardous materials, such as chemicals, radiation, or biological hazards, without risking human exposure.
- Assessing structural damage: The drone can be used to inspect buildings and other structures for damage or weaknesses, without risking the safety of human inspectors.
- Mapping the site: The drone can be used to create a detailed map of the site, which can be useful in identifying potential hazards or planning for future inspections.
However, it is important to note that hazardous site inspections using a caged drone still require careful planning and execution to ensure safety and compliance with regulations. The drone operator must be trained and certified, and all safety precautions must be taken to prevent accidents or equipment damage.
Flyability Elios drone inspections
The Flyability Elios drone is a specialised drone designed for indoor inspections in difficult-to-access environments, such as industrial plants, power plants, or underground structures. The Elios drone is unique because it is equipped with a protective cage around the drone’s rotors, which enables it to fly and inspect in confined spaces where other drones may be at risk of damage or collision.
Here are some features of the Flyability Elios drone:
- Collision-tolerant design: The Elios drone is equipped with a protective cage around the drone’s rotors, which enables it to safely navigate through confined spaces without risking damage to the drone or collision with obstacles.
- High-resolution camera: The Elios drone is equipped with a high-resolution camera that can capture high-quality images and video footage of the inspected area.
- Bright LED lights: The drone is equipped with powerful LED lights that provide illumination in dark environments, allowing the drone operator to see and inspect the area more clearly.
- Remote operation: The Elios drone can be controlled remotely using a controller or a tablet, allowing the drone operator to operate the drone from a safe distance.
- Real-time data: The drone can transmit data in real-time, allowing the drone operator to make informed decisions based on the data collected during the inspection.
The Flyability Elios drone is useful in a wide range of applications, including inspections of industrial equipment, power plants, confined spaces, and hazardous environments. Its unique design and features make it a reliable tool for inspections in challenging environments, where human inspectors may be at risk or unable to access the area.
ATEX zones and ATEX environments
ATEX zones refer to areas where explosive atmospheres can occur in the workplace. ATEX is an acronym for “ATmosphères EXplosibles,” which is the French translation of “Explosive Atmospheres.” The ATEX zones are classified based on the likelihood of the formation of explosive atmospheres and the duration of their presence.
However, careful consideration regarding the use of drones in ATEX environments as well as compliance with DSEAR Regulations.
The ATEX zones are divided into two categories:
- Zone 0: This is an area where an explosive atmosphere is present continuously or for long periods. In Zone 0, explosive atmospheres can be present for more than 1,000 hours per year.
- Zone 1: This is an area where an explosive atmosphere is likely to occur during normal operation. In Zone 1, explosive atmospheres can be present for between 10 and 1,000 hours per year.
In addition to the two zones, there is also a third classification, Zone 2, which is an area where an explosive atmosphere is unlikely to occur or only occurs for short periods of time. In Zone 2, explosive atmospheres can be present for less than 10 hours per year.
ATEX zones are classified to help employers and workers identify the risks associated with explosive atmospheres in the workplace. It is important to take the necessary precautions to prevent explosions, such as using equipment that is suitable for the ATEX zone, implementing appropriate work procedures, and providing adequate training to workers.
DSEAR stands for the Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations, which is a set of regulations that were implemented in the UK to help prevent fires, explosions, and other incidents that can be caused by dangerous substances.
Here are some key points of the DSEAR regulations:
- Identifying hazardous substances: The DSEAR regulations require employers to identify hazardous substances that are present in the workplace and assess the risks associated with those substances.
- Preventing fires and explosions: Employers must take appropriate measures to prevent fires and explosions caused by hazardous substances, such as using appropriate equipment, providing adequate ventilation, and implementing safe work practices.
- Controlling exposure to hazardous substances: Employers must control exposure to hazardous substances by implementing measures such as using personal protective equipment, providing adequate training, and monitoring workers’ exposure to hazardous substances.
- Providing information and training: Employers must provide workers with information about the hazardous substances they may come into contact with and provide training on how to handle those substances safely.
- Inspection and maintenance: Employers must ensure that equipment and facilities used in the handling of hazardous substances are inspected and maintained regularly to prevent incidents.
DSEAR regulations apply to a wide range of workplaces, including those in the chemical, pharmaceutical, and manufacturing industries, as well as those involved in the handling and storage of flammable materials. The regulations are designed to help protect workers, the public, and the environment from the risks associated with hazardous substances.
Angell Surveys have been operating caged drones in ATEX zone 2 environments for over three years and have a robust Risk Assessment process which takes into consideration all of the risks and regulatory requirements.