North American Oil & Gas Pipelines

JUL-AUG 2018

North American Oil & Gas Pipelines covers the news shaping the business of oil and gas pipeline construction and maintenance in North America, including pipeline installation methods, integrity management innovations and managerial strategies.

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sure topography, measure productivi- ty, verify work and locate assets. Along the pipeline right of way this can be useful for equipment route planning, assessing the amount of brush cleared or trench dug, amount of right of way restored and equipment locating. "Our drones operate within line of sight and can quickly capture sites up to 500 acres," says Kahler. "What a drone can see from the air is some- times very different that what a person can see standing on the ground." Because of the potential for a broad swath of prospective users, John Deere had to find a solution that was easy to use and operate. The flight plan is created via an iPad where the opera- tor defines the capture area and flight height. They hit the take-off button and the drone flies the area on its own. After the pre-programmed flight is complete, the drone lands and the data transfer, for post processing, be- gins. Customers can visit a John Deere dealer and sign up for a one-year lease of the Kespry drone. That lease in- cludes the drone, flight software, post- flight processing and access to the Kespry cloud, where the processed in- formation is stored and tools are avail- able for analysis. Because the Kespry system was designed by Kespry from beginning to end, customers have a one-stop shop for customer support. Kahler reports that Kespry has a high renewal rate on its leases. "The drone technology is being used because of the speed of the data acquisition. If there was a faster way to get the data to a customer we would be talking about that," Kahler says. "At this point drones are the fastest way to obtain jobsite data. I would foresee, de- pending on the market, adoption in- creasing, as more and more people re- alize the benefits of this technology." Speaking to the speed of data acqui- sition, Kahler explains that, in an in- dustry that is constantly facing worker shortages, using a drone to collect top- ographic data can be done in minutes. A survey crew would have to be booked and then it could take them two to three days to collect similar data. And the data collected by the Kespry drone will be accurate to within 2 to 5 cm, a range that is on par with a traditional survey crew. As with any tool in the construc- tion industry toolbox, drones are not a miracle solution but just one tool. There are still many restrictions to where drones can fly, including over people, within restricted airspace and beyond visual line of site. Waivers are available for some of these hurdles, but getting those approved could be time consuming, eating up any potential cost-savings. "There are a lot of viable and en- trenched methods and techniques that will resist augmentation or re- placement by drone technology, but ultimately, in many specific use-cases, the risk mitigation and efficiency of the drone platforms will make it a no-brainer for most operators," says Worley. "The oil and gas and construc- tion industries still have to shake that balance out. Where it makes sense to use a drone/sensor package, and where traditional means are still the best." Mike Kezdi is associate editor of North American Oil & Gas Pipelines . Contact him at . JULY/AUGUST 2 018 | North American Oil & Gas Pipelines 21

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