Belfast paint inspection company invests in 'eye in the sky'

Members of the Surface team - Robert Dalzell, Chris Clark, Lee Mothersdale and Lee Nolan - who recently qualified with GVC (General Visual Line of Sight Certificate) drone training certifications approved by the Civil Aviation Authority

A BELFAST company specialising in range of paint inspection, non-destructive testing (NDT) and corrosion prevention services for major global utility clients has invested in its own "eye in the sky".

Surface Corrosion Consultants, established in 2010 and acknowledged as Europe's leading coating and paint inspection company, has launched a new UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) inspection service, which it says is set to transform operations for a number of cross-sector industries.

The company, based on the Cregagh Road and with a satellite site in Aberdeen, close to the North Sea oil fields, will be deploying its UAV to monitor and inspect corrosion for its clients across the UK and Europe.

Surface says the new revolutionary service will offer long-term solutions such as reduced overheads and operating costs, as well as a host of health and safety benefits compared with the traditional manual inspection survey methods.

The use of UAVs is fast becoming the preferred technique for coating and paint inspection across a range of sectors including oil and gas, construction, renewables, marine, industrial and transport and infrastructure.

Rab Grainger, the firm's technical director, believes UAV technology is playing a fundamental role in the future management of corrosion.

He said: “UAV services relating to the inspection sector has seen huge advancement in recent times as companies begin to understand the benefits of incorporating this form of inspection into their maintenance and repair budgets.

“UAV inspection is the safest alternative to any manned inspection survey method.

“Using a UAV reduces the risk of our inspectors being exposed to working at height and removes any associated, unnecessary risk.

“Essentially, UAV inspection can provide a number of solutions to combat what were once potential issues within the inspection and coatings survey market.”

Surface employs 12 in-house field inspectors and four sub-contractors, and a number of its coating surveyors are now fully qualified with Civil Aviation Authority-approved accreditations.

The surveyors will inspect assets, both onshore and offshore, with the use of onboard cameras, acting as an inspectors' eyes in high resolution imagery.

Rab added: “UAV inspection reduces days, weeks and sometimes months of planning associated with the logistics of shutdowns and manned inspections.

“Our inspectors have years of experience in the coating industry, which means we know what to look out for when it comes to corrosion repair and prevention and can implement a plan to support the next steps to protecting any asset.”

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