How Use of Drones in Pipeline Industry Can Help Address the Accessibility Challenge 


In order to operate smoothly and safely, pipelines require a wide range of data to be collected on a regular basis. Traditionally, human workers have been used to accomplish this task. However, this can be extremely challenging because pipelines are not always easy to reach, particularly those located at higher altitudes and difficult terrains. This is why the pipeline industry has turned to drones or UAVs to meet these challenges. The use of drones in pipeline industry has made it faster, more productive, and safer for the workers.  

The capabilities of modern-day UAVs are extraordinary, but it is not very simple to use them. In order to utilize them efficiently, many different factors must be taken into account by the pipeline operator. Some of these considerations include location of the pipeline, length of the pipeline, type of data they have to collect, and many others.  

Addressing the Accessibility Challenge 

It is a well-known fact that pipelines are often built in remote areas to minimize the chance of human interference. Any hard-to-reach infrastructure can be accessed effortlessly by UAV technology. Also, drones are largely impervious to common natural hazards such as flood, landslide, fire, etc. With the help of drones, it is possible to access extremely tight spaces and fly closer to the ground compared to helicopters or other airplanes.  

How Pipeline Industry Can Benefit from Drones   

Drones are used extensively nowadays to perform many critical pipeline related tasks safely and inexpensively.  In addition to different operational activities, UAVs are also used for the collection data that are important for predictive analysis of the pipeline system.  

  • Reduces downtime and cost: Drones can quickly identify problem areas that can lead to a system downtime so that it can be avoided by timely intervention. It also reduces labour cost while improving and automating certain tasks.  
  • Drones can effortlessly reach areas that are unsafe for human workers or can’t be reached by them. This helps prevent accidents and makes the workplace safer for workers. 
  • Inspecting leaks and corrosion in the existing line is critical to operating any pipeline system.  Drone assisted inspection of pipelines can detect these pipeline changes quickly and conveniently, including imperfections that can’t be seen with the naked eye. 
  • By gathering an incredible amount of information quickly and independently,   UAVs not only mitigate potential pipeline threats, but also help meet regulatory requirements. This is extremely difficult to achieve by human workers.  

Most Important Applications  

As the use of UAVs has become increasingly cost-effective over the years, their application in the pipeline industry has diversified significantly.  

  • Routine Inspections: Inspection and continuous monitoring are considered to be major cost drivers at almost all stages of pipeline life cycle. One of the biggest components of this cost is manual labour. Pipeline operators can save significantly by automating their inspections using drones. 
  • Vetting of the entire route is essential before laying a pipeline system. This process involves assessment of factors such as property boundaries, the existence of other utilities, topographies, etc. Aerial inspection is currently the best option for the assessment of these factors. 
  • Post construction inspection of pipeline systems 
  • Detection of pipeline damage and imperfections 

At Austeck, we offer a sophisticated range of drone systems tailor-made for the pipeline industry.  Please contact our experts to discuss your requirements.