Van AalstPort of StocktonViganTBA GroupCimbriaSailors Society
  • Cimbria
  • Van Aalst
  • TBA Group
  • Geneva Dry
  • Telestack
  • Vigan

BPH drones take flight

BPH drones take flight

(Posted on 11/10/18)

BHP was an early adopter of drones across its mine sites. Now drones are taking flight at BHP’s ocean freight operations, providing enormous safety benefits and efficiency gains.

While still in the trial phase, BHP’s Vice President of Marketing Freight, Rashpal Bhatti, sees the potential for drones to be a key part of a tablet-based technological package, incorporating artificial intelligence that provides captains a digital view of their ship.

“All of our chartered ships receive a tablet when they berth. And on the tablet they can read the tension of the mooring line which has major safety benefits.’’

“The question now is can the same tablet become a holistic technological package by also delivering ship hold inspection data, draft readings and other critical information captured by drones. It’s all a bit futuristic but that is the direction we are going.’’

BHP ships more than 300 million tonnes of iron ore, coal and copper to customers around the world annually. More than 1500 voyages are made, making BHP one of the largest charterers of dry bulk carriers in the world.

Like the drones being used across other parts of BHP’s operations, marine drones can be programed to carry a range of specific tasks.

In the ocean freight business, there are clear and immediate advantages from using drones in the inspection of holds and in the taking of draft readings. Then there is their nimbleness in the seemingly simple but important task of advising the ship’s bridge on the water position of the rudder.

Hold inspection reports would continue to be independent assessments but the use of drones promises to cut inspection times per hold from an hour to 15 minutes.

“The hold inspection process involves ships which have five to nine holds which a person checks by climbing down ladders. The inspector has to be physically fit, use fall protection, and carry a parrot (oxygen meter) to make sure there is enough air in the hold. And it takes a lot of time,’’ Bhatti said.

“With drones, we can fly them into a hold and capture 4K images, but also infra-red, and other types of cameras that can show cracks or other specific parameters that cannot be seen with the naked eye.’’

 “There are basically three or four types of ships with hold sizes about the same. So once you program a drone to go in to a certain ship, it can become an autonomous process.’’

“So you have a better way to assess the condition of the hold, and you are removing a person from a potentially hazardous situation,’’ Bhatti said.

BHP is also testing the use of drones to improve the safety, time and cost of ship draft readings. This is usually done from a boat when the ship is berthed and ready for a cargo.  

One of the logistical challenges to overcome is to get the drones on ships when they are offshore at anchorage, as distinct from being berthed.

“We are working with ship owners on this and other ways to use technology to improve safety and productivity,’’ Bhatti said.

Latest News

US House appropriations bill includes reinstatement of NASS reports

(Posted on 14/06/24)

A House appropriations subcommittee in the USA has approved its Fiscal Year 2025 bill that includes... Read more


Rio Tinto to acquire Mitsubishi’s stake in Boyne aluminium smelter

(Posted on 14/06/24)

Rio Tinto has agreed to acquire Mitsubishi Corporation’s 11.65% interest in Boyne Smelters Ltd... Read more


Richards Bay Minerals’ renewable energy agreement

(Posted on 07/06/24)

Richards Bay Minerals (RBM) has signed a renewable power purchase agreement (PPA) with Khangela Emoyeni... Read more


Trafigura half year result show core business strength

(Posted on 07/06/24)

Trafigura Group Pte Ltd, a market leader in the global commodities industry, has released its 2024 Half... Read more


New Zealand aluminium smelter’s future secured with power deals

(Posted on 01/06/24)

New Zealand Aluminium Smelters (NZAS) has signed 20-year electricity arrangements that secure the future... Read more


NGFA statement on farm bill advanced by House Ag Committee

(Posted on 31/05/24)

The House Agriculture Committee in the USA have advanced a farm bill that includes several important... Read more


Rio Tinto and BHP collaborate on electric trucks in the Pilbara

(Posted on 28/05/24)

In an industry first, Rio Tinto and BHP will collaborate on the testing of large battery-electric haul... Read more


KEZAD signs lease agreement with Ducab Metals Business

(Posted on 28/05/24)

KEZAD Group, the largest operator of integrated and purpose-built economic zones, and Ducab Metals Business... Read more


Anglo American simplifies portfolio of copper, premium iron ore and crop nutrients assets

(Posted on 22/05/24)

Anglo American plc is setting out a clear, compelling and decisive plan to unlock significant value... Read more


ADM report details regenerative agriculture and array of accomplishments

(Posted on 15/05/24)

ADM has released its 2023 Corporate Sustainability Report, highlighting an extensive array of accomplishments... Read more


Bühler GmbHPort of South LouisianaTelestackTMS Awards 2023Geneva Dry
  • Port of South Louisiana
  • TMS Awards 2023
  • Port of Stockton

Subscribe to our newsletter

Keep up to date with the latest global news in bulk cargo handling and shipping