Optimizing confined space inspections: A success case with Elios and WACO S.R.L.

To guarantee the safety of their furnace and employees, UNICALCE SpA appointed WACO Srl and their Elios drone to inspect some rock detachments at their limestone quarry in Bernazzo, Cuneo (Italy).

Benefits in a nutshell

Safety

Elios was chosen by WACO for its ability to operate in confined spaces without having to put people's safety at risk and because of its versatility and speed of execution.

Speed

In just 30 minutes, the Elios drone was able to collect all the necessary data for planning the interventions needed to ensure safety in the quarry furnace.

Data quality

The high-quality images captured by the Elios enabled the client to accurately identify the causes behind the rock detachments and plan subsequent interventions.

Access

The quarry was 190m tall making it extremely difficult to inspect. The Elios drone performed remote visual and LiDAR inspection, which was ideal for gathering the necessary data.

 

 

The field of industrial inspections has reached new horizons thanks to advanced drone technology. In the field of indoor inspections, Flyability's Elios drone has redefined the standards for accuracy and versatility, emerging as a cutting-edge solution to the challenges posed by confined spaces.
 
This article examines in detail WACO S.R.L.'s successful use of the Elios for a high-risk mission in a massive quarry stove that prompted WACO to take full advantage of the drone's potential. In addition to illustrating Elios' capabilities and its specific application in this context, this article highlights the added value derived from the partnership between WACO and Flyability in providing excellent solutions in the field of confined space inspections.

Inspecting dangerous rock detachments with Elios

Elios-in-a-limestone-quarry-inspectionElios inside the Bernezzo quarry (Italy) of UNICALCE S.p.A.

UNICALCE S.p.A, one of Italy's leading lime producers with 11 plants across the country, recently needed to inspect a new quarry furnace at its plant in Bernezzo, Cuneo. UNICALCE manages its quarries with a focus on sustainability, and its furnace with underground primary crushers represents a environmental value. The furnace, 190 meters high and 4 meters wide, had some rock detachments in the base chamber, and its condition had to be checked in order to plan possible maintenance. For these inspections, UNICALCE S.p.A decided to rely on WACO (and their Elios drone), one of the leading experts in Italy for inspections in confined or difficult-to-access spaces. WACO acquired an Elios drone in 2021 and has since demonstrated expertise and innovation in the field, becoming one of the leading providers of drone inspections in Italy.
 
The lime produced by UNICALCE S.p.A is an essential product for a wide range of applications. Lime plays a key role in many strategic sectors of the country, such as steel production, glass, paper, water and wastewater treatment, to the most well-known applications such as in the construction industry. Therefore, it was important to verify the situation of the quarry and furnace without interrupting operations for too long.

Objectives and methodology of the inspection

The inspection interventions were planned from a technical point of view in collaboration with UNICALCE personnel who have strong experience in managing geological mining investigations in this type of context. The inspection aimed at identifying the causes behind the rock detachments in the base chamber of the quarry to assess the possible need for structural repairs. Additionally, the objective was to conduct a detailed maintenance inspection of the furnace to assess its overall condition and plan preventive interventions. The client also requested an accurately scaled point cloud to determine the exact morphology of the furnace and make informed long-term maintenance decisions.
 
WACO employed Flyability's drone which features a powerful camera, LED lights, and a protective cage that allows it to fly in even the most difficult places. The choice of Elios was motivated by its ability to operate in confined spaces without having to put people's safety at risk and its versatility and speed of execution. In just four flights (less than 30 minutes), WACO was able to provide UNICALCE with a detailed representation of the furnace. The results, available in digital format following expert post-processing and data treatment by WACO, were then made accessible through an interactive web platform, Potree, which facilitated the sharing of results. WACO's strategic use of Elios successfully achieved all mission objectives, providing detailed data and ensuring the safety and efficiency of the entire inspection process. The capabilities and accuracy of Elios, alongside Waco's knowledge of data processing, enabled the client to accurately identify the causes of rock detachments and plan subsequent interventions.
 

Elios-in-a-limestone-quarry-rock-detachments

Detachments identified on the quarry wall

Results and benefits of using the Elios

The effectiveness of Elios technology and the service provided by WACO S.R.L, made it possible to obtain high-quality images and videos, which reworked in the digital twin model facilitated the understanding of critical details and facilitated the sharing of key information within the company. All of this was done with high speed and precision. The ability to explore the digital model interactively via the Potree platform also provided additional benefits, enabling measurements, profiling and video visualizations.

Elios-in-a-limestone-quarry-Potree-results

Digital model reproduced on the Potree platform

The data collected made the decision-making process more effective, enabling UNICALCE S.p.A. to plan timely interventions needed to ensure safety in the quarry furnace.

Conclusion

This case study demonstrates how the use of Flyability's drone, Elios, coupled with the expertise of WACO S.R.L., has led to significant results in optimizing industrial inspections, providing UNICALCE S.p.A with a detailed and rapid assessment of the situation. Tangible benefits of the use of drones, including improved safety, accelerated response times and better decision support, demonstrate the effectiveness of this partnership in the area of confined space inspections.
 
Find more information about Elios at www.flyability.com 

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