Improve your underwater inspections with drones

Tuesday, October 13, 2020 / The Blueye Office

In most maritime industries, underwater inspections are a frequent activity and, in some cases, a daily operation. As these inspections often are a necessity, shouldn't you make sure you have the best tools available at hand to make the process as frictionless as possible?

Upgrade your inspection toolbox

Have you ever reflected on how you can improve the workflow of your daily operations, such as a vessel or fish pen inspection? More importantly, are the current tools you are using the best ones for the job in question?

A great inspection tool can provide you with proper documentation and improve your workflow, both in terms of time consumption and accuracy for future decisions. The mini-ROV market is expanding and the use of underwater drones and mini-ROVs to conduct inspections is becoming increasingly more common. Inspections conducted by drones obtains a significant potential, both in terms of accessibility and data handling.

Inchcape Shipping Services inspecting a vessel

The Blueye drone - a portable and user-friendly inspection tool. Photo: Blueye Robotics

Providing better overview

Drones provide an extra set of eyes to the task - Increasing the possibility to conduct the inspection with an even greater perspective and agility. Utilizing the Blueye underwater drone might just provide you with the edge you need to conduct a precise inspection. Whether it's inspections of fish pens, marine coating, analyzing hull fouling, or even pipelines and submerged infrastructure.

I can actually see underwater with my own eyes. It means we can act before something becomes a problem, instead of reacting to a problem when it happens.
- Archie Nicholson, Chief Engineer at TechnipFMC

Blueye Shipping
The Blueye drone inspecting a propeller on a vessel. Photo: Blueye Robotics
Fishpen tilting up
The Blueye drone inspecting a fishpen, tilting upwards. Photo: Blueye Robotics

Enable greater access

The underwater drone provides the inspector with an advantageous position in terms of proximity to the asset, as well as a competitive position. The reason why is the inspection tool's accessibility to areas where human divers may have trouble reaching, as well as areas with an increased risk to human health and life. For instance, the drone has been used to inspect water quality in reservoirs and dams, as the drone's size and easy maneuverability provides greater access to narrow pipelines and underwater constructions.

Image from a UV water management plant
The underwater drone performing inspections inside an UV water management facility. Photo: Blueye Robotics

Reducing cost and downtime

Inspections are a necessary activity, but also somewhat time and resource consuming. Especially in industries exposed to a great number of regulations, bureaucracy and paperwork are never far behind. Being able to conduct effective and purposeful inspections is therefore a key success factor.

The Blueye drone can be deployed within minutes, which reduces time spent on the execution of the operation. Moreover, it can be reduced even further by proper planning prior to the actual inspection. By eliminating the risks associated with human workers, you also avoid the full shutdown of the system and machinery.

shipping propeller
Screengrab from video footage of a rope stuck in the propeller. Photo: Blueye Robotics
The Blueye inspecting box coolers
The Blueye drone inspecting a fishpen and box coolers on the Deep Energy vessel.
Photo: Blueye Robotics

We used to need divers for hull inspections which had to be organized some time in advance. We had to do a lot of paperwork and shut down all the thrusters. With the Blueye ROV, we save time, and eliminate all that risk and expenses associated with divers.
- Archie Nicholson, Chief Engineer at TechnipFMC

Optimized inspection-workflow

Blueye aims to develop systems and provide underwater drones with the capabilities to perform high-quality inspections with ease. With such a tool at hand, you have a safe and cost-efficient alternative to performing both emergency and routine inspections. Thereby, avoiding shutdowns you might encounter using traditional inspection methods.

Inspection process using a Blueye drone:

By breaking the workflow down into four stages, you'll have an organized and clear plan for the operation. Integrating the Blueye drone as a tool in this process will reduce the overall time and resources you spend on the task.

  1. Prepare: Preparation requires for instance a dive plan, access to blueprints of the object under inspection, and understanding of the deliverables. The drone requires little to no preparation before deployment. Using a drone to perform the inspection can therefore cut down the time spent on this stage, also removing the need for excessive paperwork and shutdowns of machinery.
  2. Deploy: You can deploy the drone effectively and decisively. The deployment can happen momentaneous, just by pushing a few buttons and lowering it into the water. The user-friendliness of the drone also allows anyone to deploy and conduct the inspection. No need to spend resources and time on bringing in specialized ROV-pilots to the site.
  3. Inspect: In regard to operating the tool: due to the drone’s the user-friendliness and effortless maneuverability, the actual execution of the inspection is highly uncomplicated. The efficiency and success are of course enhanced by a clear inspection plan with objectives and points of interest. Through the live streaming feature, the pilot can involve external decision-makers in real-time to collaborate remotely and decrease the time spent on reaching a decision.
  4. Report: Lastly, generate more precise reports with the Blueye App. In comparison to traditional reports generated in retrospect of the inspection. The in-app generated reports can be shared directly with your colleagues and supervisors for review.

Easy reporting

Getting eyes below the surface is one thing, however capturing the relevant information, and processing it is also crucial steps of the inspections process. Furthermore, the drone’s videostream can be shared in real-time using Microsoft Teams, which in some cases is the ideal solution. In others, a more traditional document report is required.

The Blueye App can generate an inspection report as a PDF or Word document, providing an easy and efficient system for sharing the collected data. The report can contain vital telemetry data, information about the date and location, a depth chart, and any pictures captured during the inspection. You can share the document directly from your mobile device as is, or you can finalize it in Microsoft Word.

Screenshot of the Blueye App and Microsoft Word side-by-side
Report generated in the Blueye App and exported as a word document. Photo: Blueye Robotics

Blueye has a good eye for bringing value to the customers, not only saving them money but also giving instant decision-making information - not only to the operator but to all involved whether they are close by or still in the office.
- Jan Taudal, Technical Sales Manager at Navadan

By removing friction in the communication before, during, and after the inspection, the drone and its reporting application increase the quality of the final deliverable. As important, the drone removes the risk of both information loss and information waste.

Blueye Stream to MS Teams Meeting
The videostream from the Blueye drone shared directly in a MS Teams meeting. Photo: Blueye Robotics

Continues updates and efforts towards new features

This last period, following Covid-19, has been exceptionally challenging. It has exposed the continuous and growing need for tools to facilitate and adapt to exactly these types of changes. Remote solutions have proven to be key methods to continue daily operations in most industries.

Implementing the Blueye mini-ROV in your operations can help ease some of the logistic challenges, with the current traveling and social restrictions. We want to enable a more independent way of working, remotely while also utilizing your team's knowledge. Blueye has especially focused our efforts on improving digital solutions with in-app reports and live streaming features. This is the direction Blueye will continue to develop; to provide you with the needed tools for the current times and for the future.

The reporting feature is just the beginning, and part of our commitment to make underwater inspections as frictionless as possible.
- The Blueye Software Team


Looking for more information? Check out other relevant blog articles or get in touch with our industry experts!

Reporting Article Remote Inspection Article See all Blueye Articles Start a Conversation

Talk to an industry expert