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US vertical inspection tech for tank farm maintenance

Home Infrastructure Energy – Power Generation US vertical inspection tech for tank farm maintenance

WHEN a large petrochemical tank farm depot in Germiston was investigating alternative maintenance methods that are cost-effective as well as quick and flexible, it turned to rope access specialist Skyriders.

The two-phase project first involved moving large plant and equipment off these big storage tanks to allow access.

Skyriders then deployed its Elios SkyEye drone, in addition to a new Zenith vertical inspection solution from the United States, to inspect the internal structure of the tanks. “It was a unique project,” said Marketing Manager Mike Zinn.

He described the Zenith as a simple-to-use, interactive, remote drop camera system that allows users to survey 150m of vertical space, negating the need for costly downtime, human entry and the many related health and safety issues.

He added that the system provides fully automated inspections of even the hardest-to-reach vertical asset.”

“We became aware of a case study from the US where this system had been used successfully on a petchem tank project,” Zinn said he immediately realised the technology complemented Skyriders’ own drone service.

“The combination of Elios SkyEye and Zenith definitely closes any gaps that either system may have, opening up many other opportunities for us.”

The Zenith system is ideal for mine shafts, silos, elevator shafts, towers, smokestacks and even sewer systems. It was conceptualised and patented in 2019, with final testing completed only in 2020.

“Basically, it is a drone that is lowered and controlled very carefully on a vertical cable in order to be able to take pictures,” Zinn said.

“While our Elios SkyEye drones are ideal for complex spaces, precision repeatability can be limited. This is where the Zenith system comes into its own, as it can save set parameters to repeat certain manoeuvres and take numerous identical pictures for comparative analysis.”

Skyriders has been collaborating with this particular petrochemicals producer since 2013 on its maintenance requirements. Zinn said the longstanding relationship gave the client the confidence to implement the latest technology to cut costs and increase safety.

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