Total Safety to use UAVs for flare inspections

By Emily Aasand | February 12, 2015

Total Safety U.S. Inc.—an integrated safety and compliance services provider—has become the first, and only, U.S. company to use unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) to perform inspections of flare stacks. Total Safety was one of eight companies to recently receive a U.S. Federal Aviation Administration exemption for commercial use of UAS.

The exemption allows Total Safety to use UAVs to move around and above a flare for examination, while the flare continues to operate. The company said prior to UAV use, flare maintenance would often require companies to temporarily take systems offline to conduct maintenance procedures.

 “Typically, chemical plants and refineries are no fly zones, so making these visual inspections is only possible from a distance,” said Lawrence Crynes, general manager of Total Safety Flare Services. “But distance and other factors can compromise the effectiveness of an inspection and they are sometimes impossible to do because of weather, trees, wires, fencing and other restrictions.

 “Our goal is to check the mechanical integrity of the flare and visible components to help determine the need for repair or replacement,” Crynes continued. ”Mechanical integrity has an impact of the safety of employees, the facility and the community. Plus, a flare that is not performing properly, may also produce emissions that are outside regulatory requirements.”

Tech Safety’s UAV technology is a two-person operation, having one technician to pilot the aircraft and the other to wear special goggles to see what the camera can see and take close-up, high-resolution photos and videos for further study.

“This method is faster than other methods and provides an instant record of the inspection,” said Chris Barton, downstream district manager at Total Safety. “Set-up for aerial inspection using a Total Safety drone is quick and easy, too.”


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