As industries push to increase efficiencies and decrease expenses in order to improve the bottom line, the industrial drone market is one that’s in the midst of blowing up. Investment dollars from industrial firms are pouring in and so are the offerings from a wide range of drone companies all looking to capitalize on this rush to optimize operations.
This wouldn’t be a problem if all industrial UAVs were created equal, but that is assuredly not the case. The more offerings that hit the market, the higher the chances are that an industrial company will end up investing in a dressed up consumer-grade toy that doesn’t actually offer any of the benefits it claims to. However, that can be avoided with a checklist of three must-haves of industrial UAV design.
Must-have #1: end to end automation
The most important component of industrial UAV design for any company looking to cut costs is undoubtedly automation. One of the biggest costs associated with standard industrial drones is the need for a certified pilot either on-call or on-staff. With a hired pilot, the cost for each and every drone flight can easily hit three or even four digits. In some cases, the time it takes for a pilot to respond to get the drone launched can be even more costly, especially in industrial facilities where disaster can occur in a matter of seconds.
With end to end automation, an industrial UAV can complete both scheduled and on demand flights automatically, including launching, landing and data collection and processing. Leading automated UAVs are also capable of completing routine maintenance including battery changing. Automation is time saving, cost saving and potentially even life saving thanks to emergency response capabilities. For industries like energy, mining, sea ports and critical infrastructure that will rely on industrial UAVs for frequent inspections, surveying, surveillance and emergency response, any industrial UAV has to be automated. There’s no cost-efficient or operationally effective way around it.
Must-have #2: robust protection
Since industrial UAVs need to complete a lot of the dirty and dangerous jobs currently putting human employees at risk, they need to be built to withstand the harshest of environments and the most extreme conditions. Durable and robust hardware is of course a necessity, but for a drone to fully benefit an industrial company, it also needs to have robust shelter.
Leading industrial UAVs come complete with their own bases which not only keep them housed and protected in even harsh environments, but in the case of leading automated industrial UAVs, also aid in performing automated routine maintenance including battery changing. This keeps these automated industrial UAVs ready to fly at a moment’s notice at all times. Robust protection is a matter of protecting a company’s investment and maximizing efficiency.
Must-have #3: multitool capability
Due to size and weight constraints, many standard-issue industrial UAVs can only be equipped with one or two sensors. This seriously limits how many tasks it can complete. In order to be used as a true industrial multitool, a UAV needs to have the ability to swap sensors. This is the only way a single drone can be used to complete photographic, surveying, mapping and stockpiling tasks as well as be used for inspections, safety, surveillance, emergency response and emissions testing, among other industrial applications. Leading automated drones are even capable of changing their own sensors and transforming themselves into multitools.
Minding the bottom line
An industrial UAV is a major investment, and when that investment is made wisely it has the potential to transform a business. When it’s made unwisely it has the potential to have little to no impact or even be a financial drain.
To make the best possible industrial drone purchase, it isn’t a long check-list a company needs to follow, it’s just an important one. End-to-end automation, robust protection and multitool capability are the keys to cost savings and operational improvements that can greatly benefit a company’s bottom line.