Unmanned Experts is a world-class UAS training, consultancy and managed services company. They frequently utilize the Aeryon SkyRanger™ sUAS in demanding industrial applications including civil infrastructure analysis, oil and gas inspection, and geospatial information management tasks.
INDUSTRY: Commercial Inspection & Data Management | REGION: USA
Unmanned Experts conducted an end-to-end aerial mapping project by collecting the data and images, as well as creating the outputs which included a surface map and a 3D model of a coal-fired power generation facility. Information was needed for three different locations on the property – a coal pile, switch yard and rail line. The images and reports would then be used to help manage the coal inventory, as well as help plan the future development and engineering requirements at the facility, to ensure efficiency in a variety of operational processes and workflow.
This project would help the facility stakeholders understand how best to use UAS technology. Therefore, the UAS method for data capture, image quality and reporting would be compared to traditional methods, including; best practices, cost, time, quality and accuracy.
As well, the power generation facility required the following information:
Coal Inventory: A survey grade map and 3D model of the coal pile needed to be created. These outputs would enable volumetric data to be calculated.
Switch Yard: A map was required to help with planning and engineering for future development around the switch yard.
Rail Line: The aerial survey and map of rail line section was required for logistical purposes. The current method of data capture involved surveyors driving on an access road adjacent to the track. Using the Aeryon SkyRanger, Unmanned Experts proved the rail line could be mapped from the air and be quick and affordable. There would also be no interference or disruption of regular rail or plant operations – which meant no loss of production time for the facility. As well, a permanent record of the track condition was created. A maintenance defect matrix could now be generated with change tracking and historical data management.
“The SkyRanger is built to operate in real-world conditions, which means we fly when our competitors are grounded by weather,” said Dave Prall, VP Special Projects, Unmanned Experts. “I especially appreciate the Aeryon staff who consistently provide world-class customer service. They make sure we deliver results in projects like this one.”
The SkyRanger was chosen as the system for this project because of its reliability in rugged environments, and extreme wind and weather conditions, which are common in the industrial environment of the coal-fire generation facility. Since the SkyRanger is a vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) sUAS, it enabled Unmanned Experts operate in the confined areas of the facility that are often difficult for ground crews and manned aircraft to access.
The dual EO/IR imaging payload enabled both daylight (EO) and thermal (IR) images to be collected simultaneously. This payload was used to collect the images and data of the switch yard and coal in order to create the maps and 3D models. As well, the IR imagery was used to determine temperature and depth of field.
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VOLUME OF STOCKPILE
|Number of Vertice||45|
|Terrain 3D Length||713.35 m|
|Projected 2d Length||712.65 m|
|Enclosed 3D Area||37655.15 m²|
|Projected 2D Area||37591.81 m²|
|Terrain 3D Area||49106.77 m²|
|Cut Volume||324589.93±1261.71 m³|
|Fill Volume||-234.00±83.56 m³|
|Total Volume||324355.93 ±1345.27 m³|
- No disruption to rail or plant operations; production schedule not affected
- Data could be collected in high winds and extreme weather conditions
- Integrated imaging payloads provided flexibility in the field to swap easily, without tools
- Up to 50 minutes of flight time ensured maximum amount of data could be captured
- VTOL UAS – take-off and landing possible in confined or difficult to reach areas
Rail Spur Data
Image 1(Left): Rail Spur Point Cloud (With RGB Values)
Image 2(Right): Rail Spur Point Cloud Triangulated Irregular Network (TIN) with Shaded Elevation
Coal Pile Volumetric Computation
Coal Pile Area (244 Acres)
Image 1(Left): EO Image
Image 2(Right): IR Rainbow Image