Cepsa to collaborate in an R&D project using drones to inspect energy plants

28 May 2018

    • The company will work with La Línea Vertical and Dronetool to develop this system, which will be carried out at Cepsa’s plant in San Roque (Cádiz).
    • The initiative is supported by the Center for Technological and Industrial Development (part of Spain’s Ministry of Economy, Industry and Competition)
    • The aim is to optimize the time and efficiency of inspection processes at industrial centers


A consortium made up of Cepsa, La Línea Vertical, a specialist engineering company focused on non-destructive testing (NDT), and Dronetool, an expert in drone design and construction, will work to develop a new system to incorporate aerial technologies into the inspection tasks of industrial infrastructures in the energy sector.


The project, called Inspection with Contact Drone (ICDRON), will be backed financially by the Center for Industrial Technological Development (CDTI) of the Spanish Ministry of Economy, Industry and Competition, and has the technological support of the Avionics and Systems Division of FADA-CATEC's Advanced Center for Aerospace Technologies, a leading global institution in drone research and development.


The project is based on the development of new airborne robotic technology, together with the creation of drone-based inspection procedures and systems that allow work to be carried out in industrial environments and on difficult to access structures. Cepsa's facility in San Roque (Cádiz) has been chosen as the location to test the prototype to be developed, which has the dual objective of optimizing the time and efficiency of inspection processes in energy environments, and implementing new procedures and safer systems within the framework of these technologies.


Refineries are complex industrial facilities where maintenance and inspection operations are key to maintaining plant competitiveness and safety. Refineries carry out multiple inspection and maintenance checks over the course of a year. This project aims to develop a new, accurate and safe drone or remote-controlled aircraft system, for the inspection and maintenance of infrastructures. As such, a principal aim is to increase, where possible, the safety levels of industrial inspections, improve their quality and precision, as well as the reliability and safety of the facilities themselves.


Inspection work with drones could be carried out, for example, in confined environments, or on refinery flares, where high temperatures make their inspection inviable. Inspection checks could also be used on pipelines and storage tanks at high altitudes, allowing potential problems to be detected in real time.


The project's development work will take two years, and the final results of the project are expected to be available for analysis by 2020.

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San Roque Refinery