CimbriaPort of South LouisianaSailors SocietyCleveland Cascades LtdBühler GmbHTBA Group
  • Port of South Louisiana
  • Van Aalst
  • The Wolfson Centre for Bulk Solids Handling Technology
  • Bühler GmbH
  • Cimbria
  • Port of Stockton

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

Amogy and Trafigura to research ammonia cracking technology

(Posted on 25/09/22)

Amogy Inc., a pioneer of emission-free, energy-dense ammonia power solutions, and Trafigura, one of... Read more


Rio Tinto and Shougang Group explore steel decarbonisation

(Posted on 25/09/22)

Rio Tinto and Shougang Group, one of the world’s top 10 steel producers, have signed a Memorandum... Read more


Rio Tinto partners Volvo for low-carbon and autonomous solutions

(Posted on 15/09/22)

Rio Tinto and Volvo Group have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to create a strategic partnership... Read more


Emergency measures required now to avert European steel crisis

(Posted on 09/09/22)

The European steel industry has called on EU policymakers to provide immediate relief against high energy... Read more


Europe’s fertilizer industry victim of energy chaos

(Posted on 07/09/22)

Rocketing gas prices have led to curtailment or shutdown of a majority of European fertilizer production... Read more


Cargill launches Asia Pacific digital studio to accelerate food/ag innovation

(Posted on 07/09/22)

Cargill is partnering with the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB) to launch its first digital... Read more


Tata and Punjab Government to set up scrap based EAF steel plant

(Posted on 03/09/22)

Tata Steel has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Government of Punjab for setting... Read more


Turquoise Hill transaction Agreement in Principle with Rio Tinto

(Posted on 01/09/22)

Turquoise Hill Resources Ltd. has announced that it has reached an agreement in principle and entered... Read more


Vale first major mining company to test 100% electric 72-tonne trucks

(Posted on 25/08/22)

Vale have received two battery-powered 72-tonne off-highway trucks, which will be tested in the mines... Read more


Port of Amsterdam becomes member of responsible soy initiative

(Posted on 18/08/22)

The Port of Amsterdam recently became a member of the Round Table on Responsible Soy (RTRS), an initiative... Read more


The Wolfson Centre for Bulk Solids Handling Technology Van AalstViganTelestackTOC EventsMultimodal 2022
  • Sailors Society
  • Cleveland Cascades Ltd
  • TOC Events

Subscribe to our newsletter

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