Industrial SkyWorks: How to Use Drones to improve equipment reliability in the oil and gas Industry

industrial skyworks

To have oil equipment operating efficiently and reliably is demanding, expensive, and requires performing these tasks:

  1. Monitor the equipment on a continual basis to detect failures or impending failures;
  2. Perform regularly scheduled preventive maintenance tasks to prevent or delay equipment failure;
  3. Plan for downtimes to replace or repair defective equipment.

To perform these tasks is expensive in terms of manpower utilisation, maintenance costs, and capital expenditure.

The importance of drone-based preventive maintenance

Preventive maintenance is indispensable for proactively reducing the likelihood of failure or malfunction of oil equipment. Preventive maintenance necessarily includes regular inspections to detect failure modes that could be caused by under insulation corrosion, manufacturing defects, or natural disasters.

All industrial equipment is built upon the harmonious performance of several parts working together. For example, a pipeline that comprises several hundred pipe components will only function properly if each component functions efficiently. Because failure of one component will disable the performance of the entire assembly, the reliability of the assembly is no better than the reliability of the least reliable component.

Not surprisingly, preventive maintenance is time-consuming and expensive, especially if it involves inspections and maintenance tasks in remote or hard-to-reach areas.

Cost-effective and efficient preventive maintenance has undergone significant improvements because of drone inspection technology. By utilising drone-based preventive maintenance, it is easier to remotely detect equipment failures or impending failures reliably, safely and at reduced cost. Drone-based maintenance also makes it easier to respond quickly to accidents and natural disasters.

Is it possible to predict the useful lifetime of oil equipment?

Apart from improving equipment reliability by utilising preventive maintenance, it is possible to use reliability analysis techniques to predict the lifespan for certain types of oil equipment. Reliability prediction requires knowledge of the following factors:

  1. The MTBF (Mean Time Between Failures) and MTTR (Mean Time To Repair). MTBF and MTTR provide useful guidelines for repairing, replacing or retiring equipment from service to guard against impending failure.
  2. The cost of retiring equipment prematurely.

Knowing these factors makes it easier to develop an efficient and cost-effective equipment maintenance program.