Aerial Drone Image of Offshore RefineryDrone-based imagery as used in the energy sector can typically be acquired at significant cost savings with the additional benefit of human risk mitigation compared to traditional inspection processes.

Surveys of and data collection from large sites, complex platforms and areas not easily reached are more cost effective and quicker when using drones without exposing personnel to elevated risk.

At this point, nearly everyone regardless of their field is familiar with the advantages drones can provide, but there remains questions about returns on costs involving developing drone programs in-house or whether better to outsource.

Industry observers suggest a shift is taking place; one that takes away from in-house operations coupled the time it takes in-house operators to gain the qualifications and expertise in flying drones. The FAA does not exempt in-house drone pilots from the requirement to hold mandated remote pilot certificates while flying for their companies.

Aerial Image of Oil and Gas worksiteIn the oil and gas, construction and other energy sectors such as solar and wind, drones save both time and money from the beginning of a project through its completion; from site servicing and monitoring, drones cut down on both time and expense, thus making strong financial arguments favoring drone-based assessments.

High-resolution imagery, multispectral photogrammetry and videography with results available the same day provide project managers data they need to make timely, cost-effective informed decisions; products that cannot be obtained through other legacy aerial or ground-based means. Total cost savings vary, but savings as much as 50 percent or more are not uncommon.

With multispectral imagery – infrared, near-infrared, LiDAR, as examples – infrastructure problems can often be detected long before a failure occurs. Cost savings in terms of fines, fees, hazard mitigation and lawsuits are incalculable and more than cover the investment in drone deployment.