Global shipping giant Maersk recently conducted a ground-breaking drone delivery trial, proving that the marine industry will benefit exponentially from implementing the use of drones.
Traditionally, delivery of small but essential packages to vessels is costly, and/or involves some serious delays due to complex logistical issues. Boarding a ship is also often dangerous, due to hazardous cargo and other risks associated with being on-board a marine vessel.
The drone used in the Maersk trial can be operated in an explosive atmosphere – an incredibly important attribute in the shipping industry, where vessels can often carry hazardous, explosive, and flammable cargo.
Drones could revolutionise the marine industry.
Typically, a drone can be flown from either a barge or the port to deliver a small package to the vessel. This is a revolutionary development in technology: imagine a ship has a major engine problem and needs parts delivered. It’s traditionally very costly to send for small packages to be delivered to a vessel – but urgent parts could be easily transferred from shore to ship with the use of a drone.
In the trial, the drone had been intended to fly from shore for a distance of 1km to the vessel; however bad weather meant this was changed so that the delivery could be made at a distance of 250m from a tug to the vessel. Despite the change in plan, the trial still demonstrated that cost savings would be easily made in such a system: with no need to board a ship, multiple drops can be made from tug to vessel in a short space of time, without risk to human life.
Not Just Deliveries
The Maersk drone delivery trial was a pioneering attempt to prove that drones have their place in the marine industry; however, UAVs are not only useful for delivery purposes.
Drones can be used to perform tricky and dangerous tasks, such as tank and hull inspection, which often come at a huge risk to human life. Inspections are essential, but involve large amounts of time and risk: a drone is able to perform similar inspections with less risk and in far less time, too.
The cameras fitted to UAVs can provide high quality HD photographs and film footage for closer inspection by the engineering team, without having to send an inspector into a dangerous area. The problem can be easily identified, and an engineer sent to just the area which requires maintenance, reducing the time spent in a hazardous area and the downtime required for repairs.
Drones can also perform handy gas detection surveys, which are an essential part of marine life. Hazardous cargoes and gas build-up mean crew members risk their lives on a daily basis – but a drone fitted with sensors is able to fly into tanks for inspections to deliver real-time air analysis back to the crew in a safe zone. Should the drone detect high levels of risk, the crew can then take the right action to remedy the situation without further compromising their safety.
Built To Last
Marine drones aren’t like your usual hobby UAVs, oh no. They’re built to withstand particularly harsh marine environments, able to fly more steady in varied air pressures, take on higher wind speeds, and are more resistant to corrosion.
Remember, you can always find out more about offshore drones or marine UAVs by talking to an expert on the COPTRZ team! Just email firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on +44 (0)1709 599 458.