Maersk drone testing programme

Last week, Apex Insight reported on how Maersk Tankers successfully delivered a packet of cookies to a ship off Denmark. More has emerged from the company about the testing programme which is in fact a very serious look at a system that could save the company significant sums of money in the long term.

Maersk Tankers supply chain manager Markus Kuhn said: “Drones can make savings in both costs and time.

“There are high costs for on-board delivery of small parcels, filled with urgent spare parts or mail, because of the need for a barge.”

Maersk Tankers said costs for a barge are on average $1,000, while drone can bring potential savings of $3,000 to $30,000 per vessel per year.

In being able to deliver the packages direct to the vessels, sometimes from a mile or more away ashore, the drone system can save money and resources in getting goods to the crew and staff. Getting a barge alongside at sea takes a lot of time to organise and operate as well and a drone can land directly on the deck without having to arrange this.

The shipping company is looking at using the drones to fly to tankers that have very volatile cargoes that are rated as ‘high explosive environments’ where sparks could do serious damage.

Maersk Oil is also testing drone use for a range of other activities such as inspections and getting goods to North Sea installations as well as APM Terminals at the company’s ports. The systems can be used to carry out inspections of gear, perhaps high up on oil rigs, as well as as a piracy lookout in high risk sea areas.

Maersk Tankers plans to avoid the costs and time for washing, gas-freeing and re-inerting during a cargo tank inspection, once a suitably ATEX approved drone is available.