Benefits of Using Drones for Pipeline Inspection


In order to operate smoothly and safely, pipelines require a lot of data collection. Obtaining these data has never been easy over the years. In the recent years, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or drones have emerged as a viable alternative for them to meet these challenges. According to latest industry reports, by 2026, the UAV industry has been forecasted to grow to $26 billion.

Drones and Pipeline Operators:

Some of the most necessary components of operating a pipeline include monitoring construction activities, surveying planned routes, and inspecting existing lines for corrosion and leaks. All these tasks can be performed safely and inexpensively with the help of UAV technology. Pipeline operators also prefer using this technology because of its ability to collect a wide range of data that are essential for complying with the regulatory requirements as well as mitigation of potential pipeline integrity threats.

Addressing Aerial Challenges:

There is no denying the fact that building a pipeline is a complex task. However, challenges remain even after a pipeline has been constructed.  Frequent line inspections are essential for regulatory standards, and this can be extremely difficult and time consuming. These days, many operators perform aerial inspections with the help of drones equipped with thermal-sensing cameras. To help detect potential leaks, these cameras examine the pipelines by measuring temperature changes.

One of the most significant pipeline safety threats all over the world is third-party damage or TPD. This takes place when a pipeline gets damaged by someone not associated with the operator. One of the biggest causes of TPD is outside construction activity and such activities are easiest to spot aerially.

Corrosion is yet another continuous threat to pipelines. In order to prevent corrosion, coatings of different types are applied to steel pipelines. However, corrosion under insulation (CUI) may still take place and this corrosion can’t be seen with the human eye. However, CUIs can be detected by aircrafts with special cameras attached to them.

Drone Surveying:

Compared to traditional methods of pipeline inspection, drone surveying provides numerous advantages. This allows the operators to eliminate human interaction to improve safety, increase the speed of deployment, and enhance technical capability, while reducing cost.

To mitigate the risk of human interference, many pipelines are intentionally built in remote areas. These hard-to-reach infrastructures can become easily accessible with the help of UAV technology. Also, a UAV is impervious to natural disasters and can be used even if there is a flood, landslide, or fire. Another benefit of using a drone is that it can fly closer to the ground and access much tighter spaces compared to a helicopter or airplane.

Drone surveying is used extensively these days in projects that do not have much time for deployment. A trained UAV operator requires just a few minutes to launch a drone and start the process of data collection. In a time-crunch, an inspection-ready drone can undoubtedly be a gamechanger.

If you are looking to use drones for pipeline inspection in your next project, please contact us immediately at Austeck. Over a period of almost three decades, we have established ourselves as Australia’s largest supplier as well as service and support platform for all types of pipeline inspection equipment.