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Bureau Veritas joins survey drone project

Bureau Veritas has joined RECOMMS (Remote Evaluation of Coatings / Corrosion on Offshore Machinery and Marine Structures / Ships), a joint investment project (JIP) to develop drones with the capability to inspect steel structures in enclosed spaces for use in ship surveys.

{mprestriction ids="1,2"}The JIP’s primary objectives are to develop a drone capable of following programmable flight paths, either pre-determined by 3D imagery software or flown by a pilot, using 3D simulator ship specific training programmes developed alongside the drone design.

Investment partners include Akzo Nobel, Barrier Group, Bureau Veritas, Drone Ops, Hempel Paints, and Marine Technical Limits, as well as an unnamed oil company. Coatings firm Safinah is the RECOMM project manager.

In the first phase of development the drone will be designed to carry an unobstructed HD camera as well as lighting and batteries to perform structural and coating inspections within a ballast tank.

“The end goal is to be able to survey cargo spaces, ballast tanks and confined spaces remotely and effectively,” said Jean-François Segretain, technical director, Bureau Veritas Marine & Offshore.

“If we can do this with drones we can help reduce risks to our surveyors and ship crews by minimising the need, for example, to erect expensive staging whilst covering the survey scope, which would otherwise require surveyors to work at height or perform tank inspections by means of rafting.”

“While a lot of work has been done with drones nothing yet released has led to drones meeting specific requirements for marine classification close up surveys. This project addresses the specific needs of our survey requirements and other inspections.”

Once tank inspection objectives have been met, the drone will be designed with a payload carrying capacity capable of adding other sensors, with the end goal of performing paint and coating application analysis as well as steel thickness measurement.{/mprestriction}

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    Bureau Veritas Marine & Offshore (BV) has opened its first remote survey centre, located in the major maritime hub and port city of Rotterdam.

    The centre is focussed on supporting remote service delivery capability and is part of BV’s North European Zone head office and BV’s Zone Marine Operations Centre.

    “This is a new and important 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,” sid Laurent Leblanc, senior vice- president, technical & operations.

    Bureau Veritas has conducted a full program of tests and proof of concepts confirming that the relevant technologies are now mature enough to enable remote surveys. Technologies used include optimised live-streaming solutions; connected devices (smart phones, tablets, Go-Pro cameras, smart glasses, augmented reality); and connectivity on board – with improvements from 4G networks and 5G yet to be realised.

    During the development process different operating modes were tested successfully in different modes of connectedness: offline, partly on-line, and fully online. These different modes reflect the need for different levels of connectedness. In the latter mode – the fastest and most comprehensive remote survey mode – the onboard client uses connected devices to show the ship’s condition in real time to a remote surveyor and this means a survey in real time can be closed at the end of a call.

    Significant benefits to clients include speed of response and no travel or waiting time; optimisation in the decision-making process thanks to live-streaming solutions; continuous improvement in the quality of service; and cost control through overall reductions in travel time and arrangements.

    Herman Spilker, vice president of the North Europe Zone for BV, commented: "The remote service delivery is led by a team of experienced surveyors and follows eight years of development experience. In 2012 we started developing the procedures allowing administrative verifications to be conducted remotely, Bureau Veritas is now able to offer a comprehensive range of survey items which can be performed remotely. The applicable survey items include classification surveys and specific statutory items which can be agreed by flag administrations."

    The combination of remote surveyors, the marine operational centre surveyors and management support as well as close proximity to plan approval surveyors will allow the Remote Survey Centre, equipped with latest technology hardware and software tools, to deliver a high value service to clients.

    Mr Leblanc added: "This remote capability is really just starting to make an impact on our clients. It is a vital development for the future of classification."

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