In mid-November 2019, the Applus+ UAV unit in Australia conducted an internal drone inspection of a hot blast system using the ELIOS 2 drone at BlueScope Steel in Port Kembla, Australia. This blast system was in service for 16 years, then decommissioned over a decade ago. It was a very complicated system and was definitely not designed to be inspected by people. Therefore, it was of great importance for the client to obtain not only a 100% visual of the entire system, but also 4K high-definition video. This was to ensure that a detailed analysis could be made of the internal condition so that they could decide whether it was cost effective to repair and reuse, or whether to rebuild.
Over the course of the 5-day inspection, 85 GB of data was obtained by Applus+ and then handed over to the client on site. It was then determined by the engineers and the client,that the hot blast system was repairable and could be used for production again.
This was a very challenging job, especially due to the massive size of the inspection area and the range limitations of the drone. This was mitigated by the innovation of a custom-made range extender. The drone was launched from an entry point and then flown as far as the possible along the system until the link weakened. The team would then land, move their position and place the range extender into a small plug or value opening near the drone’s location, re-establish the link and then continue the inspection. This leap frog technique allowed the inspection to be completed without losing contact with the drone, which was imperative for the team because if it had been lost, there would have been no safe way to retrieve it.
This was a success for the Applus+ UAV unit in Australia because it was their first job using the new ELIOS 2. It is a very impressive and capable drone, and the client was able to see this first hand.