The EIC’s celebration of the best innovation in the utilities sector, The UK Energy Innovation Awards, returns in 2019. Awards are open for entries now.
Cyberhawk Innovations won the EIC award for Best Safety Improvement in 2017. It is a world leader in visual data management – using drones with cloud-based asset management software to help its clients to better manage their assets.
Cyberhawk entered two UK Energy Innovation award categories in 2016 – and was shortlisted for its innovation in offshore renewables and electric network improvements. The recognition spurred on the Cyberhawk team to enter Best Safety Improvement in 2017.
“Our solutions have many advantages over traditional inspection and surveying techniques – drones offer efficiencies; they are quicker, cheaper and safer, but do not sacrifice high-quality data,”
explains Jenny Adams, Sales and Marketing Manager at Cyberhawk.
It is the safety aspect that was key for Cyberhawk’s award-winning entry. Cyberhawk deploys drones to complete inspection and surveying work in challenging environments – for example close to hazardous chemical tanks or electricity networks, or where typically a technician would be required to work at height or inside a confined space.
By removing people from these hazardous situations, risk is mitigated.
An Innovative Solution
“When you look at the alternatives, using a drone makes strong commercial sense,” says Jenny. “Using a helicopter is expensive. Using scaffolding can take a lot of time. Working at height with ropes is dangerous. Falls from height are a major cause of injury and fatalities in the workplace. And this is especially hazardous in an off-shore environment. A drone is safer; removing people from these risky environments, or at least minimising the time that needs to be spent in them. And it’s also a lot quicker than a rope access team. For example, our inspection solution recently reduced a 600 man-day work scope to just six days.”
The speed of completion is also a particular advantage. The judges recognised this and praised Cyberhawk’s entry for its “quicker, more efficient, safer methods of inspection … which avoids hazards”.
Importantly, they also recognised Cyberhawk’s “more accurate results” and “well-established solution which focuses heavily on safety measures”.
Entering the Award
When Cyberhawk was founded ten years ago, drones were not commonly used in industry. However, as awareness about their advantages is raised, the use of drones is increasing exponentially.
Jenny says the opportunity to raise awareness about the potential of drones to improve safety, data quality, and to deliver efficiencies was a key driver for entering the awards.
“We saw the UK Energy Innovation Awards as a good way of promoting what we’re doing,” says Jenny. “As awareness is raised in wider industry, people are embracing drones as a way of doing inspections. When we first launched, people were interested in the direct savings and efficiencies of drones compared with traditional inspection solutions. But now things have moved on and people are really interested in the data we can provide. This is really exciting, we’re now able to produce deliverables like 3D models built entirely from drone imagery, point cloud imagery, asset visualisation and digital inspection reports, which have unlocked even further efficiency and improved processes.”
Winning the award was a happy occasion in the Cyberhawk office, reports Jenny.
“It was a real morale boost for the whole company, and we were extremely proud to be recognised as an experienced and trusted company. But our win is encouraging for the whole of the drone inspection industry. It shows that drone inspection is something that most companies who do asset integrity inspections can actually utilise.”
Since winning the award, many more people are using the technology – and this is helping to drive further innovation. As a result, Cyberhawk has plans to enter the 2019 awards.
“The high profile of the UK Energy Innovation Awards and their prestigiousness make them very attractive,” says Jenny. “It puts us right in front of the people we want to talk with. And we’ve got some interesting stories, especially around how far drone technology has moved in the last year or so.”
Jenny’s tips for would-be innovators
We have an internal research and development team which looks to develop our inspection and software services based on client and industry demand. They also work with technology centres such as the Oil and Gas Technology Centre in Aberdeen and ORE Catapult. These organisations are great at linking up solution providers with academia, or other companies in the sector – whether you are looking for funding, technology, research, trials or clients. Close liaison with clients is also very important. If you have no clients yet, then link up with one of these tech centres to help make the introductions. And don’t innovate for innovation’s sake. You need to know there is a commercial demand before you start investing in developing a solution.
Jenny’s tips for would-be award entrants
Definitely enter if you think you have a good story to tell. Entering an award is also a really good way to review what you’ve been doing over the last twelve months. It helps you take a step back and assess your own progress. It’s also brilliant for your profile to get in front of a targeted industry audience. The UK Energy Innovation Awards put us right in front of the people with whom we want to talk. Be selective in what you enter – writing an award entry isn’t a five-minute job – but once decided, go for it. You’ve got nothing to lose!