The Elios, a collision-tolerant drone from Flyability, recently inspected the nearly 7.5-acre Pilsner Urquell beer bottling plant in the Czech Republic.
The facility’s ceiling must be inspected every year and a detailed inspection performed every 10 years, according to a news release. The indoor unmanned aircraft system (UAS) made its way around electrical wiring, sound barriers, sprinklers and vents to inspect the plant’s beams and trusses.
Typically, five workers climb to the ceiling to perform visual inspections. Scaffolding and a safety net are constructed for the project, which takes more than a month. Bottle production must be stopped in any areas being inspected, reducing production by 60,000 bottles of beer per hour for more than 35 days—which is pretty costly.
This was considered a business expense for the company until Drony SITMP, a drone service provider, Flyability reseller and innovation center based in the Czech Republic, met with the inspector, who immediately saw the benefits of deploying Elios to conduct these inspections.
During the drone inspections, the inspector stands with two pilots (one who flies the UAS and one who changes batteries and acts as an observer) and directs them. The work can be completed in twelve, 4-5 hour days. This saves the company more than three weeks of inspection time and eliminates the need to shut down any part of the facility. The Elios also makes it possible to evaluate areas that are difficult for climbers to reach.
“Pilsner Urquell were really pleased with the results of the flights,” said Ondrej Bouček, a drone expert at Drony SITMP, according to the release. “Elios provided benefits in safety, downtime, and mainly cost…they are also proud to be the first in the Czech Republic to use this method for roof inspections.”
Pilsner Urquell plans to expand the drone program to other locations.