Drones Pave the Way for Better Industrial Maintenance
Industrial maintenance has long been one of the pillars of factory efficiency. To keep machines, equipment, and facilities running, you need to keep a keen eye on factory systems. Maintenance helps prevent problems before they arise and facilitates optimization for saving money, extending functional life, and keeping workers safe.
As maintenance technology improves, it’s bringing forth new innovations for making industrial upkeep swift, accurate, and insightful. Drones are one such innovation. The ability to fire up a drone, maneuver it into place, and survey industrial equipment in real-time represents a wealth of opportunities for the efficacy of industrial maintenance.
A range of opportunities for drones
Surveying equipment frequently puts inspectors in dangerous situations. For example, an inspector may have to climb a large cell phone tower or building to collect visual data. Using drones, specialists can easily inspect all parts of industrial equipment without risking their safety. Drones can also inspect areas that most people can’t, making it much easier to collect visual data on bridges, turbines, and more. Within the factory, drone inspections offer opportunities for equipment — and even the facilities themselves.
The benefits of drones for maintenance
The mobility of drones offers plenty of opportunities for improved facility maintenance. Drones make it easier to inspect various aspects of factory operations, sometimes without requiring shutdowns. They also provide an inexpensive, safe way to take video and photos of machinery in operation — something not usually possible from certain angles. Additional benefits include:
- Minimizing costs and inspection times. Drones can reduce inspection times and even reduce labor and insurance costs.
- Inspecting a wide range of equipment. Drones can perform visual inspections of all types of equipment, no matter the size or location.
- Increasing equipment reliability. Drones can improve a piece of equipment’s reliability by identifying maintenance issues.
- Offering reliable data. Drones promote accuracy in surveying by allowing employees to perform various inspections on the same piece of equipment with ease.
- Minimizing hazards and increasing safety. Drones improve safety by keeping employees out of hazardous areas during inspections.
Manufacturers have already embraced drones
Several manufacturing companies have already seen success adding drones to their maintenance programs. Ford recently started using mounted drones at its Dagenham Engine Plant in the United Kingdom. Through the implementation of drones, Ford has eliminated the need to use automated extendable platforms for equipment inspections. The inspection process, which once took around 12 hours to complete, now only takes Ford employees around 12 minutes to complete.
“We used to have to scale heights of up to 50 meters to do the necessary checks on the roof and machining areas,” said Dagenham Engine Plant machining manager, Pat Manning. “Now we can cover the entire plant in one day and without the risk of team members having to work at dangerous heights.”
Ford is just one example of a company successfully implementing drones. This use case is just one of many reasons other manufacturers are investing in drones for their own specific factory needs.
A higher standard of industrial maintenance
To achieve maximum production efficiency, manufacturing companies need high standards for industrial maintenance. Drones present a safe and effective way to improve maintenance without risking employee safety or slowing down factory operations. Many companies have already seen drones improve efficiency and save money. Now’s the time for all other manufacturers to join in and add drones to their maintenance programs.