Innovation From Concept to Commercialization
Field Deployment of Advanced Technology

UAS Case Study:

Unmanned Aerial Inspection of Power Generation Station Stacks

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Generating station stacks demand regular inspection to determine the condition of the structure, often requiring workers to climb hundreds of feet. High quality visual data provided by ULC’s unmanned aerial inspection team enabled the plant’s maintenance teams to safely and efficiently assess a 650’ tall large power generation stack.

CHALLENGES

Stack inspections traditionally require a contract crew of 3-4 people to scale the height of the structure, a lengthy process with the inherent risk of putting personnel at extreme heights. After climbing the stack, the crew would typically take 1-2 days to complete the stack cap inspection, a process which presents both a serious challenge and significant risk.

  • High cost of multi-day contractor operation for traditional inspection
  • Would require expensive specialized equipment rentals for climbing
  • Limited views of the stack cap

By incorporating UAS technology into existing operations, plant teams were able to quickly and accurately identify issues with their assets while eliminating the need for workers to climb heights.

INDUSTRY: Power Generation

BUSINESS AREAS ADDRESSED:

  • Corrosion
  • Maintenance

SOLUTION IMPROVED:

  • Safety
  • Data quality
  • Plant reliability 

RESULTS:

  • Improved inspection efficiency
  • 100% data capture
  • Zero plant downtime

INSPECTION & RESULTS

Under the guidance of the utility’s plant manager, ULC Robotics was able to capture visual data of the stack and cap from all angles, including views never seen before with the stack in operation. Performed from the safety the ground, the UAS work was performed in just two hours, enabling the utility to save $7,500 per inspection and two days’ worth of work.

  • Utility workers and contractors did not have to climb stack to obtain data
  • Inspection carried out while stack was in operation; no shut down required
  • Safe integration of UAS inspection in an area with heavy air traffic

NEXT STEPS

AIRCRAFT:

  • ULC Custom-Developed Multirotor

PAYLOAD:

  • 42MP DSLR

FLIGHTS:

  • Total mission time: 2 hours
  • Number of flights: 2 flights

AIRSPACE:

  • Class G

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