Bureau Veritas, a world leader in testing, inspection and certification (TIC) services has completed its first survey by drone. The survey was carried out in the holds of a bulk carrier in an Italian port.

The scope was an intermediate survey on a bulk carrier and consisted of close-up inspections and ultrasonic thickness measurements (UTM) conducted by the drone in two cargo hold spaces. The required prior agreement from the flag authority was confirmed – all the more necessary as the ship is subject to the IMO Code for the Enhanced Survey Programme (ESP).

Remote Inspection Techniques (RIT) were reflected in BV’s rules in 2019. The Drone operator involved in this survey is certified by Bureau Veritas for both RIT and UTM.

Bureau Veritas has conducted tests and established ‘proof of concept’ for the most advanced inspection techniques to confirm that the technologies are providing safer and even better quality evidence to conduct and support the survey process while also offering benefits and advantages for ship-owners and ship-managers.

Compared to traditional survey practice immediate benefits include the obvious reduction in time and cost in needing staging, raft surveys or rope access specialists in combination with the required thickness measurement capabilities.

Bureau Veritas has confirmed that aerial drones are now mature, they are survey ready on an operational basis and provide:

- Safer conditions for the surveyor and the operator who are not exposed to the risks of working at height nor, necessarily, will they be required to enter into the confined spaces for the inspection
- Time saving during the inspection
- The potential for better quality evidence when assessing the condition of the hull
- Optimized maintenance costs and planning by reducing ship’s immobilization and optimizing the preparation before the repairs.

‘This is another milestone in the Bureau Veritas global strategy of Digital Classification using digital technologies to transform the operating model of classification for the benefits of its clients’, said Laurent Leblanc, Senior Vice-President, Technical & Operations. ‘We are now ready to offer operational surveys using drones anywhere in the world. We will continue to look for innovation and test new ideas but drone surveys are now going to be part of everyday life for ship surveys. Above all drones provide a level of detail and new level of safety that will benefit both our clients and our surveyors.’

‘Drone surveys and our remote survey capability and service delivery are really just starting to make an impact on our clients. They are a vital development for the future of classification. Now we can both see and decide remotely.’

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