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Corrosion Monitoring & Assessment using an Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (drone) DFT & Profile Measurement System 

Bob Dahlstrom

Problem Statement / Introduction 

Currently one needs to utilize a lift, scaffolding, ladders or other solutions to reach areas of height to take Dry Film Thickness (DFT) & Surface Profile measurements such as SSPC-PA2 and others. This is both dangerous, due to the possibility of falls, and time consuming. Utilizing an aerial DFT & Surface Profile measurement system allows the operator to remain safely on the ground to take measurements. Further, since there is no need to move a lift, scaffolding or ladders or for the person taking the DFT & Profile readings to move from their current position the DFT & Profile measurement process is faster in addition to being safer. The system has the potential to improve the inspection, testing and data collection aspects of coated assets. Also, by making the DFT & Profile measurement “process” easier and safer more frequent measurements and/or a larger quantity of measurement samples may be taken expanding the scope, scale, and frequency of DFT & Surface Profile measurements. With an easier, faster, and safer method to collect DFT measurements from locations of “height” we can expand the science of coating thickness measurements by collecting data from locations where data was either inaccessible or difficult to obtain (access issues, safety considerations, etc.). The technology is patent pending and video will be shown of the system wherein the drone flies up to a structure, with a metal sub-straight, then under full autonomous software control, touches a DFT and/or Surface profile measurement probe to the target and records the measurement data. The session will also include one of the configured drone based systems for educative, illustrative, and display purposes. The session will make participants aware of this new technology as well as provide information as to its efficacy, limitations and operational requirements. 

Outline of Key Points: 

1. Knowledge of a new DFT & Profile Measurement system technology 

2. Understanding the systems uses and benefits as well as its limitations, constraints and disadvantages 

3. Overview of Federal regulations for operations of the “drone” based system 

4. Exploration as to the implications of this technology for the coating and corrosion prevention industry and profession Key Points Discussion Upon completion of the session attendees will be aware of the new DFT and Surface Profile measurement system for locations at height. 

The presenter will encourage engagement and questions as part of the session such that a dialog is provided. In addition, time permitting, there will be a question and answer period at the end of the session. Session attendees will be encouraged to consider how this could impact our profession and what modifications to the system might make it more useful for “real world” applications and use cases. 

Conclusion and Recommendations / Future Research 

Future research will be undertaken to ensure the data gathered with the new system is consistent with all standards and when used by current practitioners the data is of as high, or higher, quality than with current practices. As development of the system continues it may include additional probes, such as ultrasonic, so coatings on sub-straights other than metal can be measured. In addition, future developments will include a “data vault” of the DFT & Profile measurement data along with other information and variables such as surface temperatures and environmental data (relative humidity, barometric pressure, local ambient air temperature, etc.) is gathered. It is hoped that the additional data will be instrumental in diagnosing coating system failures. Conclusion Technology is constantly changing and evolving. The technology presented at this poster session directly impacts the protection and preservation of concrete, steel and other industrial and marine structures and surfaces with coatings. The session is educational and informational in nature and will impart a knowledge of changing technology for coating applications, environmental regulations, and health and safety issues that affect the protective coatings industry. Author Bio Mr. Dahlstrom is the founder and CEO of Apellix. Apellix has developed the world’s first software controlled robotic system that utilizes drones connected to a base station with an umbilical cord and tether as material applicators. The Apellix platform moves workers from harm’s way - moving painters off scaffolding, ladders or equipment, etc. A marathon runner, Bob knows the value of discipline, training and persistence. He founded BluePrint Data in 1998 and is the architect of its software and systems. Prior to that he was a full-time faculty member at Florida State University, worked for the Florida Legislature, and worked in a clean room at AT&T Microelectronics in wafer fabrication where he wrote his first computer program in 1986. Bob is unequivocally adamant that software is “eating the world” and is passionate about designing and create software controlled robotic systems that keep people out of harm’s way and save lives.