Cyberhawk inspects UK’s largest chimney stack

Case Study

Cyberhawk inspects UK’s largest chimney stack

Cyberhawk was called upon to inspect two chimneys at Drax Power Station, which generates 16% of Great Britain’s Renewable electricity. The requirement was to provide a detailed external inspection of both chimney stacks, which included one of the largest in western Europe.

Constructed in 1969 to withstand hurricane-force winds, the chimney stands 259 metres tall. At the time of construction, it was the largest industrial chimney in the world.

It was essential for both chimneys to remain online throughout the inspections, meaning Cyberhawk was required to work onsite while the power station was fully operational, and around other day-to-day activities taking place on site.

The two-man team, consisting of an experienced pilot and a certified inspector engineer, had to select specific flight positions to inspect the full circumference of the chimneys. The team also had to follow strict VLOS (visual line of site) protocols, which meant that whilst flying, the pilot had to remain in sight of the drone.

Alternative methods for carrying out this scope of work, such as rope access, elevated cradles or scaffolding, would have taken weeks to complete the inspections and even longer when their erection and dismantling was included.

Cyberhawk’s solution not only mitigated the risks associated with this method, such as working at height, but reduced the inspection times as well. Normal timescales for this type of inspection would take more than 10 days per chimney, however, Cyberhawk carried out the inspection in just six days for both assets.

A number of imperfections consistent with the age of the structure were highlighted by the inspection. This allowed the client to become aware that structural maintenance was required and so had adequate data to outsource this work to a third-party provider. The results were delivered through Cyberhawk’s asset management software, iHawk. Utilising this software allowed the team to provide the client with detailed location and accurate defect sizing to +/- 10mm.

The high quality of images delivered through iHawk allowed Drax to provide structural repair companies with detailed visual data and in turn obtain accurate repair quotations. This information allowed the client to significantly minimise costs.


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