Delft, Netherlands, based RIMS BV has received two more classification society certifications — from DNV GL and the Indian Register of shipping — for the use of Remote Inspection Techniques (drones) during surveys of enclosed spaces.
New regulations issued by IACS, require that certain quality standards be met by service suppliers who want to use drone technology during close surveys. RIMS is the first company that meets these requirements, offering the market a full-service package of drone inspections.
“We are pleased that clear regulations have been defined on the quality of inspections,” says David Knukkel, CEO of RIMS BV. He notes that previously many hobby pilots had been applying for certification, failing, due to lack of experience and knowledge of the assets to reach the requirement.s This, says Knukkel, “diluted the market for professionals and did not install much confidence for end-users and classification societies to adopt the technology on a more widespread scale.”
“Given our extensive maritime experience,” says Knukkel, “we are investigating how we can set standards towards inspection quality in the oil and gas industry also, as this is a sector we are currently active in and which is yet to fully embrace the use of drones for inspection purposes.”
With certification from what is now a total of nine classification societies, RIMS has been able to demonstrate that drone technology with skilled pilots, reduces the safety risks of inspection of assets while offering a much more cost-efficient solution than traditional inspections.
Although now being recognized by the classification societies globally, drone inspections can still be be a complex business. Local permits to fly drones can vary from country to country, with restrictions on outdoor flights in some areas. These are issues that RIMS is able to address due to its experience and industry knowledge.
“For each location we have to investigate the local regulations,” says Knukkel. “Regulations and costs involved can vary and it is so important to spend time to ensure safe and efficient operations. Thanks to our excellent network we have the knowhow on what is required and how and when to obtain the local permits.”
Shipowners, managers and operators currently choose how a surveyor gains access to the areas to be inspected. Options for access will be dependent on the type of survey, as in some cases thickness measurements are required.
“It is the task of the classification societies and service suppliers, like RIMS, to explain when thickness measurements are really required and at which locations,” says Knukkel. “We have seen so many clients spending unnecessarily on a variety of methods, when only one would be enough in their circumstance.
“This current process of working leads to surveyors still working in unsafe conditions to carry out procedures, as well unnecessary costs to the shipowner,” Knukkel concludes. “We think this situation is not sustainable, and eventually the regulators will force the market to use the latest technology to ensure safe working practices for their employees.”