$420,000 Saved in Elios 1 Test by Argentinian Energy Company, Subsequently Invests in Elios 2

Pampa Energía, the largest independent energy company in Argentina, invested in the Elios 2 after saving $420,000 in its first test of the Elios 1 for boiler inspections.

Download PDF

Benefits in a nutshell

Safety

Using the Elios 1 instead of sending inspectors onto tall scaffolding inside each boiler to do a manual inspection allowed them to collect visual data remotely instead of having to be physically present, thus removing them from potentially dangerous scenarios.

ROI

Elios 1 helped discover that the burners in a large power plant’s boiler were wasted before the warranty expired, helping the plant save $420,000 by not having to build scaffolding for a manual inspection, downtime that would have been required for the manual inspection, and replacing parts for the burner under the warranty.

Speed & Efficiency

The time needed for a boiler inspection was reduced from a full day to just 20 minutes. Downtime was reduced from 7 to just 2 days (the time needed for the boiler to cool sufficiently).

 

Overview

Pampa Energía is the largest independent energy company in Argentina, and it works in all sectors of the power generation industry there. 

Pampa-Energia-building

As part of its maintenance procedures, the company must conduct regular inspections of the boilers used at their power plants

Each plant has various amounts of boilers, with several burners inside each one. Typically the boilers are inspected by a person entering each one and climbing scaffolding with a flashlight in order to do a visual review of each burner and each part of the inside of the boiler and the burners.

Building the scaffolding takes two to three days, and it takes two to three more days to break it down once the inspection is complete. In addition to the time needed for building and taking down the scaffolding, the inspection itself requires about a day of work, which means that boiler inspections at Pampa Energía's plants typically require seven full days of downtime.

Customer Needs

Seven days of downtime for each boiler inspection represents a significant loss of potential revenue for Pampa Energía. Argentinian law mandates that these types of boilers must be inspected twice a year, which means about 14 days of downtime a year per boiler in order to be compliant. 

Another complicating factor is that each power plant Pampa Energía owns can usually only handle a single boiler shutdown at a time, so that plants with multiple boilers are almost always dealing with the shuffle of either building or taking down scaffolding.

Due to the potential safety issues of sending inspectors into confined spaces, the logistical complications, and the high costs associated with manual inspections, Pampa Energía started seeking alternative inspection solutions. 

After some research, the company learned about Flyability’s Elios 1 drone, which was made just for indoor inspections in assets like boilers. The Elios 1 presented an inexpensive, efficient alternative to manual inspections, so Pampa Energía decided to test it out at one of their power plants.

Elios 1 Tested at Pampa Energía's Bahía Blanca Power Plant

The Elios 1 was first tested at Pampa Energía's power plant in Bahía Blanca, one of the biggest power plants in Argentina.

Flyability Elios 1

Flyability's Elios 1 in flight

There are two boilers at this plant, and the original plan was for the test to take place in just one of these two boilers.

In just twenty minutes the Elios 1 was able to collect enough visual data for a full inspection of the boiler. The short window of time needed for the inspection impressed the Pampa Energía team because they were used to the slow, seven-day process typically required for a boiler inspection. 

A $420,000 Flight

Over lunch, a member of the Pampa Energía team asked if it might be possible to inspect the second boiler at the power plant, since the first inspection had been so quick that there was still plenty of time left in the day.

It turned out that the second boiler had already been cooled and so a flight could be made within it immediately, without any waiting required. 

The burners in the second boiler were just under two years old, so the Pampa Energía team did not expect this inspection to find anything alarming. 

But the flight revealed that the burners were in terrible condition. The state of the burners was so bad that they could not even be restarted, since doing so would risk damaging the entire asset and also possibly endangering those in the area.

Pampa Energia Case Study

A picture taken by the Elios 1 of one of the wasted burners discovered at Bahía Blanca

It turned out that the warranty for the burners was approaching its expiration date. Discovering the wasted condition of the burners before that date came meant that Pampa Energía was able to recoup the full cost of each wasted burner. 

When Pampa Energía made their insurance claim, the images collected by the Elios 1 provided visual proof of the wasted condition of the burners prior to the warranty’s expiration. More importantly, the Pampa Energía team was able to uncover dangerous conditions and avoid any potential accidents that could have harmed their employees working near the boiler with the bad burners.

Here are the savings that Pampa Energía realized from using the Elios 1 for this single last-minute boiler inspection at its Bahía Blanca plant:

  • Scaffolding savings = $30,000
  • Downtime costs avoided = $290,000
  • Insurance recognition savings = $100,000

Total savings = $420,000

Elios 2 Adopted Based on Success of Elios 1, Now Used throughout Argentina

Given the savings the Elios 1 helped secure for Pampa Energía, the company began using it soon after the first test flight to remove inspectors from hazardous situations, save money, and improve both the quality and the frequency of its boiler inspections. 

When the Elios 2 was released in the spring of 2019, Pampa Energía decided to test it immediately. Personnel were so impressed by it that they started making plans to use it for inspections at the company’s plants throughout Argentina.

Pampa Energia_Elios 2

A picture taken by the Elios 2 at one of Pampa Energía's plants

The company currently follows a schedule for sending the Elios 2 to its various power plants when they are shut down for inspections. These drone inspections first started at its coal and gas power plants, but are now also being tested at its hydropower plants.

Pampa Energía has found that the Elios 2 provides even better visual data than the Elios 1. The drone also has advanced features for inspections, including oblique lighting, advanced stabilization, and distance lock, as well as improved usability features, which make it easier to fly. In fact, it is so reliable that some formal inspection bodies have approved it as a formal inspection tool.

In the future, Pampa Energía plans to have an in-house drone team at each of its power plants. Each team will have its own Elios 2 and consist of at least one trained drone pilot. 

Given the savings found with a single free test flight at the Bahía Blanca plant, expanding the use of the Elios 2 to all of its power plants has been an easy decision for the company to make.

SEE ALSO

Mining Photogrammetry

A company that recycles industrial waste tested the Elios 2 for indoor stockpile volumetry and found that the 3D maps it helped produce were accurate to […]

Oil & Gas

Using the Elios 2 for an FCC unit inspection allowed Oil and Gas refining company Tüpraş to avoid sending an inspector into the confined space inside a […]

Power Generation

DTEK, an energy company based in Ukraine, recently tested the use of the Elios 2 for a chimney inspection and a boiler inspection at one of their power […]

Chemicals

Timing is everything during inspections at Yara's fertilizer plant in Ambès, France. Yara personnel wanted to test the Elios 2 to see if it could help […]

Power Generation Infrastructure & Utilities

Valmet, a top provider of industrial technologies and services for the pulp, paper, and energy industries, used Flyability’s Elios drone to inspect a […]

Oil & Gas Chemicals

RoNik Inspectioneering wanted to thoroughly test Flyability's new drone, the Elios 2, to see what it could do to support indoor inspections. RoNik […]

Mining

The use of drones in the mining industry is quite popular for mapping open pits but when it comes to exploring underground, flying drones is a true […]

Infrastructure & Utilities

West Edmonton Mall in Edmonton, Canada is not only the largest shopping center in North America, it also contains the largest indoor waterpark in North […]

Public Safety

A severe fire broke out at the Liverpool Echo Arena Multi Story Car Park on 31st December 2017. Once the fire was under control and extinguished, public […]

Public Safety

With increasing international exchanges, we can see more and more fairs and exhibitions popping up around the world. How to quickly and efficiently check […]

Maritime

Every ship on the ocean needs a class survey to travel – and that means frequent inspections. It’s a big job, and one that requires significant time and […]

Power Generation

Elios was used to complete the inspection of a gas turbine stack at a major energy facility – saving thousands of euros and days of time.

Infrastructure & Utilities Sewer

Elios was used to complete the inspection of a damaged section of sewer infrastructure in Barcelona, Spain.

Food & Beverage

Elios was used to complete a complex indoor ceiling inspection over the factory floor in the Pilsner Urquell brewery, in less than half the time of […]

Mining

Elios is used for mine facility and equipment inspections in Copper mines of Northern Chile, flying in the dangerous and confined areas around mining […]

Infrastructure & Utilities

Elios is used for bridge inspections in Minnesota, USA, navigating the difficult to reach spaces under bridges between beams and inside of box girders. […]

Mining

Flyability’s collision tolerant Elios drone has performed multiple missions in the North American Palladium (NAP) Lac des Iles mine near Thunder Bay, […]

Power Generation

Flyability’s collision-tolerant Elios UAV has been used at a major nuclear power plant, proving the case for Elios in the normally inaccessible spaces of […]

Infrastructure & Utilities

The jet engine test beds used in the aeronautical industry for Quality Control and R&D require strict maintenance. Traditional methods of inspection […]

Maritime

CMA CGM required the internal inspection of a ballast tank of one of its container ships, the CMA CGM ANDROMEDA. Flying in complex and pitch-dark confined […]