Cyberhawk completes oil tanker hull survey using UAS

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Cyberhawk has announced that it has successfully completed the first full American Bureau for Shipping (ABS) Intermediate Hull Survey 4 on an oil tanker using UAS.

​While at a shipyard in Singapore, Cyberhawk performed full class inspection across 19 tanks onboard an oil tanker, which included 12 Cargo Oil Tanks, two slop tanks and five ballast tanks.

“UAVs and robotics in general have taken inspection to a new level thanks to the time, cost and safety benefits being proven every day,” explains Chris Fleming, CEO at Cyberhawk. “However, digitizing the data captured is a transformational step for the asset management industry.”

ABS was present during the inspection to make sure that the quality of the inspection complied with the specific ABS rules set for tankers. The inspection also had to satisfy the U.S. Coast Guard’s Critical Area Inspection Plan, as the vessel was American flagged and operated in Alaskan waters.

UAS are a safer and quicker alternative to other methods of conducting this type of inspection for this type of tanker, which include scaffolding the inside of the tank, or using rope access, the company said. It would take roughly seven days per tank to set up the scaffold, conduct the inspection, and remove the scaffold, where as with UAS, the inspection process would take one day per tank using Cyberhawk’s two-man team. Rope access would take approximately three times longer than inspection by UAS.

While UAS inspection offers “new efficiencies,” non-destructive testing technicians still had to take thickness readings (at accessible levels) to meet the ABS survey requirements for this class of vessel, but this summer, Cyberhawk says that it expects to conduct its “first proof of concept on a UT solution” from UAS that would eliminate the need for scaffolding, rope access technicians or rafting solutions for this type of tanker survey.

The Cyberhawk team completed more than 350 flights and collected more than 600 gigabytes of data, which is being hosted in Cyberhawk’s cloud-based visual asset management software known as iHawk. IHawk has been designed to host the huge volumes of data captured by UAS or other sources, and allows the user to access this data in a “functional and intuitive way.”

IHawk provides clients with a 360-degree view of the inside of the tanks, and highlights defects and areas of interest. Thanks to high definition imagery being provided, users can see these points of interest in great detail, which allows them to make “evidence-based asset management decisions,” the company says.

IHawk also provides the client with a complete visual record of the tank, which can be referred to on an ongoing basis to monitor the condition of the tank and the degradation of any defects.

“By hosting data in a cloud-based asset management system, such as iHawk, inspection information can be viewed in a far more intuitive and efficient way compared with wading through a 100-page inspection document,” Fleming says. “This also means that multiple stakeholders can access and view exactly the same data, which also provides a realistic representation of the asset even for those who have never been in contact with it.”