Drone Inspection & Asset Digitalization for the Wind Industry

By Mike Ball / 19 Nov 2020

Scopito drone data analysis platform

Scopito has released the following interview with the company’s CEO and founder, Ken Falk. Scopito is a cloud-based, AI-assisted data management solution designed to process large amounts of UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) aerial inspection imagery.

The interview initially appeared as an article in the October 2020 issue of PES Wind magazine.

 

Would you like to begin by telling us something about the background of your company?

Scopito’s story runs parallel to my story, which I’d be happy to share with you. About ten years ago, I worked with mission-critical software at a Danish conglomerate by the name of Systematic. My time there was challenging and rewarding alike, and the lessons instrumental in my later decisions on company culture.

Working in mission-critical software put me in close contact with drone technology. As an engineer and vintage car devotee, it really spoke to something in me. I started tinkering with drones in my spare time – a hobby which eventually lead me to leave my job at Systematic in pursuit of the world’s most energy-efficient drone.

Once I achieved the drone, I had to do something with it, and that something became drone inspections; that’s how Heliscope emerged in 2014. From there on it grew as companies grow. I realized the ineffectiveness of raw data, which lead me to seek help from a former colleague, and together we developed a data management platform for our inspection images, which would later be known as Scopito.

In 2014 we decided to sell the inspection part of Heliscope and devote all our time to the software. The lessons from my time as a DSP stuck with me even after that, and I believe this is one of the reasons for Scopito’s success.

Today we are a dedicated team of seven and I am making good use of my knowledge from Systematic. All of us are devoted to the work and the workplace alike.

We know you work in a variety of sectors, so how important is the wind and offshore renewables business to Scopito?

Yes. wind, power and solar is where we devote the majority of time and effort. Because Scopito users often have more than one type of asset to inspect, we ensure that the software is valuable for more than just one inspection-type.

I don’t want to say that one sector is more important to us than another – we are an agile company, and we direct our focus where it is needed. In times when that is wind, our objective will be building something uniquely great for turbine-inspections. An example of this is the Live Turbine Diagram, covered in our previous PES article.

You pride yourselves on being experts at enabling the digitization of infrastructure assets. What exactly does this entail?

Digitization for us means having access to all relevant information about your assets, whenever and wherever. Expertise for us means knowing, from experience, how to build extraordinarily user-friendly software for digitization. This expertise allows us to support the digitization of clients’ assets in the best way possible.

To be tangible, it means that we offer simple workflows with powerful features, in a cloud-based platform which employs technologies like digital twins, artificial intelligence and GRC-management features, when appropriate.

In the last edition of PES Wind, your article talked about the live turbine diagram, can we have an update on this and customer response?

The feature itself has progressed since then. The increase in demand means a more diverse group of users, which has led to a more robust feature that works for more edge cases than when it was first released. For example, you can now see the blade inspected with fault size, and distance from root, regardless of the software and drone used to obtain the data.

You mention extending the life of your turbines and blades with Scopito – how is this achieved?

When we emphasize extended life cycles of blades and turbines, we focus on the benefits of frequent inspections and, in particular, proper analysis of inspection data. By accurately detecting faults early on, and acting on discrepancies, you extend the lifetime of your assets noticeably.

Scopito in itself is a tool to analyse data more effectively, but we also offer services like Experts Analysis of inspections, which can help identify more faults accurately, or Governance, Risk and Compliance functionalities, that provide an overview of all assets’ health and determine the most cost-efficient actions.

These are all powerful tools that enable asset owners to extend blade and turbine life.

What makes Scopito’s solutions stand out from the competition? What are the benefits to the end user?

Our grand differentiator is the simplicity of the user interface, workflow, and features. More than any other, this is the reason customers join us, as opposed to competitors.

When I say simple, I don’t mean less powerful. Scopito has all the functionality of those big, heavy software packages. But we value usability. We keep it light. We keep it easy to navigate. People love that.

Let me be a little more concrete here with an example: stitched images and 3D models. Most of our major competitors stitch inspection images to create 3D models – a costly and time-consuming task, which sometimes means faults are lost in the stitching process.

We choose a different approach. One that doesn’t manipulate the data, but provides you with a clear overview of the asset and the faults’ locations on that asset; the live turbine diagram. It’s simpler, but certainly no less powerful.

Who are your main customers, and can you tell us about any projects you have in the pipeline?

We deal with turbine owners or the inspection companies servicing them. In both cases, Scopito is used for processing, storing, and sharing inspection data.

As I mentioned earlier, we have seen an increase in demand following this new workflow. That means we have some interesting deals in the pipeline. There is one deal of a few hundred WTGs in the UK, that we are hoping will come through soon, and one in Germany with several thousand, that is a little further into the future. We have also seen a lot of turbine work coming in from the Asia Pacific lately, which is a very exciting.

Our collaboration we have with Natural Powerful (Ascend Technologies) and Fairfleet is also a great driver of business for us in the wind industry.

What do you think will be the greatest opportunities and the greatest challenges, for the wind industry in general and Scopito in particular, over the next few years, and where do you see yourselves in 5 years’ time?

For the industry in general, I am going to quote one of our close partners Harry Papadopoulos, the Founder & Managing director at Industrial Drone Services Athens:

“One of the main challenges in the Wind Industry will be the inspection and effective maintenance of old WTGs following their booming installation over the last decade. The next few years, both on and offshore wind turbines would need frequent cutting-edge aerial inspections providing fast, reliable solutions and platforms analyzing big data effectively.”

As for Scopito’s future, I see the greatest challenge and opportunity in the race for AI automation. It is an area with unlimited potential, passionate rivalry, and rigid obstacles. We are working on it. Our competitors are working on it. The wind world is watching.

As with everything, we are attempting to share our vision and progress openly and our aim is to create something simple and powerful.

Posted by Mike Ball Mike Ball is our resident technical editor here at Unmanned Systems Technology. Combining his passion for teaching, advanced engineering and all things unmanned, Mike keeps a watchful eye over everything related to the unmanned technical sector. With over 10 years’ experience in the unmanned field and a degree in engineering, Mike’s been heading up our technical team here for the last 8 years. Connect & Contact