We’ve detailed where and how utility companies in the United States are creating value with drone technology, but companies across Europe have also been able to use drones to approach a variety of projects in faster, cheaper and safer ways. One of those companies - ENGIE - has been able to use the technology to inspect vital components in power plants, and doing so has created numerous benefits across the organization, many of which will be explored during a session at the upcoming Commercial UAV Expo Europe.

ENGIE is a leading international energy and services company, active in around 70 countries. The Group is committed to take on the major challenges of the energy revolution, towards a more decarbonized, decentralized and digitized world, and focusing on three key activities for the future: low carbon generation in particular from natural gas and renewable energies, energy infrastructures and integrated customer solutions (BtoB, BtoC, BtoT).

Innovation is at the heart of ENGIE’s development, and is also reflected in its efforts to use drones to inspect vital components in power plants. Regular visual inspections are often difficult due to accessibility issues that require inspectors to utilize scaffolding or wear special equipment due to oxygen limitations. Drones have eliminated the risks many inspectors would otherwise be exposed to, which also allows those inspectors to get their work done that much faster.

These efficiencies aren’t just about saving time and keeping people out of harm’s way though. ENGIE has also been able to use drones to create quantified forecasts providing a much better concept of the degradation in a particular area, and allowing to address issues before they become critical. Thanks to drones, maintenance of the installation has become more efficient, and that’s something Marc Eyckmans, Knowledge, Innovation & Digital Manager at ENGIE, has been able to quantify for the company.

“More frequent inspections have helped us making predictions about the degradation we’re seeing,” Eyckmans told Commercial UAV News. “ In combination with 3D image handling technology like BIM, this technology allowed us to implement a new piping structure within an existing one. From imaging to the technical drawing and then into manufacturing, it was a fairly easy process thanks to the technology.”

That process is something Eyckmans is set to explore in detail during the ENGIE’s Innovative Use of Drones session at Commercial UAV Europe. The presentation will address the value potentials of using drones for safe visual inspections on boiler pressure & non-pressure parts while also providing insights on the usage of drones within industries for quantitative integrity assessments and plant extensions based on BIM & image 3D construction. These are benefits that utility companies of all types and sizes can realize just as ENGIE has, but being able to do so is contingent on making a commitment to the technology.

“You need to get your hands on the technology to come up with these applications,” Eyckmans said.

Attendees of the Expo will have the opportunity to do just that with an exhibit floor and conference program showcasing the latest innovations in drone technology. For anyone interested in the potential of drones to help with inspections in confined spaces and in exploring the combination of drones with imaging for BIM solutions, ENGIE’s Innovative Use of Drones session will explore these details and many more.


Click here to register for the Expo.