Smart Industry 1/2019


Smart Industry 1/2019 - The IoT Business Magazine - powered by Avnet Silica

photo ©: senseFly

With some industries

now relying on drone

data for mapping, inspection,

and other

applications, one question many

companies are asking is whether

to continue to rely on inspection

service providers or carry out drone

flights with an in-house team.

Many companies are turning to drone

inspections companies to act as consultants

and help them understand

the benefits and the costs of the

technology. Cyberhawk Innovations

is a UK-based drone inspections company

that specializes in oil and gas

industry applications, with a client

list that includes BP, Statoil, and Saudi

Aramco. Around 18 months ago, in

response to market demand, it began

offering consultancy services to companies

that were interested in bringing

their drone operations in-house,

says Jenny Adams, sales and marketing

manager at Cyberhawk.

Often the jump-off point is reached

when companies find themselves

paying large fees for numerous inspections:

at this stage they begin to

look at whether carrying out operations

in-house will save money, says

Adams. One approach is to classify

jobs based on complexity and consider

carrying out simpler jobs in-house,

retaining specialist operators for the

more difficult jobs which will require

special competencies and permits,

such as those that involve flying close

to the public or climbing higher than

usual, she explains.

Having in-house operations isn’t as

simple as just buying a drone. A com-


Lofty Insights

■ Line of Sight

While there’s a popular fascination with the latest

flying machines, when it comes to commercial applications

it’s not the drones themselves that matter

but the quality of the data collected, the sophistication

of the software used to collate and refine the

data, and the ability to extract actionable insights.

“The drone is just a tool for data acquisition,” says

Thomas Nicholls of Delair, a French manufacturer of

fixed-wing drones. Nicholls, who previously worked

at Sigfox, sees drones as an important part of IoT.

“Terrestrial IoT tends to be done with small contextual

sensors that will detect movement, temperature,

pany will need to hire an unmanned

aerial vehicle (UAV) pilot or train staff

to fly the drones and maintain them.

It will also need to ensure there is

enough work to enable pilots to fly

No Easy Sell

Drone use in agriculture

is less developed

in precision agriculture,

where data

from drones could

be used to plan the

use of fertilizers and


rotation in an engine, or something like that. In the

world of drones, we focus on what can be seen.”

One area of development is the more advanced

merging of data and insight from terrestrial drones,

says Nicholls. “Customers are able to combine data,

even terrestrial sensor data, that is then combined

with digital twins created thanks to drone imagery,

and that gives them the full insight,” he explains.

“What will drive development and the speed of

developments will be customers realizing they

can improve their profit and loss, or generate new

revenue, thanks to these new data sources and the

type of analysis you can do on them,” Nicholls adds.

regularly to maintain their skills. This

makes the proposition look better for

larger companies that will have the

necessary volumes of work and can

afford to hire pilots.

While experts note a general trend

toward in-house drone operations,

there are pronounced differences

between industries. In some cases,

the use of drones matches existing

business practices – industries that

typically rely on subcontractors being

more likely to continue to rely

on specialist drone service providers,

explains Colin Snow, a drone analyst

and founder of Skylogic Research. In

construction, contractors have traditionally

relied on specialist surveying

companies that often have drones

integrated into their mapping ac-

photo ©: Delair


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