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Improving Maintenance Operations With Drones

More drones are filling up the sky each day. It seems there isn’t much that these buzzing, unmanned flying creations can’t do, including improving maintenance operations.

More drones are filling up the sky each day. Whether used for surveillance, capturing a unique angle at a concert, racing, or delivering packages, it seems there isn’t much that these buzzing, unmanned flying creations can’t do.

Just take a quick trip down the rabbit-hole of YouTube and you’ll see drones being used in just about every situation you can think of. In fact, over the recent holiday, I even saw a video where a guy used a drone to create a feast. (It actually worked decently… if you don’t mind all the cleanup.)

And in the world of manufacturing, two companies have joined forces to ease the dangerous tasks of compliance and inspection — that’s right, with drones.

Companies Infor and Drone Aviation Corp. (DAC) have designed a way to solve industry challenges by enabling safe, efficient asset management and maintenance.

The Drone Enterprise Asset Management System (DEAMS) can provide complete, efficient and safe asset and maintenance management, according to a report released by Infor and DAC.

Vice-president of Infor Federal, Wayne Bobby, says utilizing drones could revolutionize the way organizations manage their infrastructure and maintenance.

“Our customers operate in increasingly complex ecosystems, many of which include shrinking budgets and aging infrastructures that rely heavily on the way assets and resources are managed,” he said.

With a drone’s ability to perform functions such as perch and stare, video capture and laser scanning, the technology could replace many of the dull, dirty and dangerous tasks currently handled by personnel.

“Innovative uses of technology have and continue to transform the way we perform work,” Bobby said. “The work drones are displacing are much of the mundane and, in some cases, dangerous work. They also require less support equipment needed for large building and infrastructure.”

Bobby said information provided by Departments of Transportation (DOT) in various states have shown a 75 percent labor cost decrease when using drones for inspection.

“But since the labor costs for drone operations is a higher labor category, the final labor cost reduction will likely be 50 percent,” he said. “This shift also provides advancement opportunities for maintenance personnel and more effective assignment of maintenance staff.”

Bobby says the drone market is fast-moving. He estimates that by the end of 2017, people should see the technology being used in a more wide-spread manner — especially in inspection, maintenance and asset management.

Using drones — especially tethered drones which allow for extended flight times — could allow active plant inspections without shutting down ongoing production, Bobby says.

“This can be a very large savings to these plants,” he continued. “Also, even when shut down for inspection, they are so much faster than normal inspection, the cost goes down as fewer hours/days are required.”

Bobby stated that most drone training can be completed in four to five days and includes a FAA Part 107 remote pilot certificate.

“After training there will be a few weeks to a month of learning curve build up,” he said. “But shorter down time for inspection could repay this in only one plant operation.”

Bobby says it has been seen repeatedly that once drone technology is in the hands of the end user, the technology is used in ways not dreamed of by the drone developers.

“Our DEAMS offering is one such example, where we combined the flexible utility of drones with a robust enterprise management application,” he said. 

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