March 29, 2019
For promoting the safe use of drones in the field of plant safety, on March 13, 2019, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), in collaboration with the Fire and Disaster Management Agency (FDMA) and the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare (MHLW), compiled: the Guidelines for companies’ safe operation of drones on the premises of plants; and the Collection of Use Case Examples in which case examples of leading companies inside and outside Japan are explained. These compilations are expected to contribute to accelerating company use of drones at plants and to further enhance their ability to secure the safety of plants.
Companies operating petroleum or chemical plants (e.g., petroleum complexes) are required to improve the productivity and maintain the safe and stable operation of such plants. Aged plant facilities, the retirement of many expert employees, and other factors have increased the difficulty of securing plant safety.
To overcome this challenge, it is important for plant operating companies to take advantage of advanced technologies, including IoT, AI, big data, and drones, in order to enhance the safety and productivity of plants and to streamline operations involving plant safety.
In particular, utilization of drones at plants will enable such companies to more easily inspect facilities at difficult to access areas, prevent accidents through increased frequencies of inspection, and swiftly confirm whether and to what degree target sites are affected by disasters. Such utilization is expected to contribute to improving the safety of plants. Meanwhile, from the standpoint of finding a balance between inspection accuracy and safety, METI considers it important to prevent drones from entering areas where they might cause serious damage, etc.. METI also finds it important to disseminate approaches to safe utilization of drones.
(Source: Autonomous Control Systems Laboratory Ltd.)
To this end, METI, in collaboration with FDMA and MHLW, established a Liaison Council of Three Ministries on Disaster Prevention of Petroleum Complexes and Other Facilities. Since then, the liaison council held discussions on preventing disasters at petroleum complexes and compiled discussion results into the Guidelines, a well-organized compilation of key points that plant operating companies should note for their safe utilization and operation of drones on the premises of plants, and the Collection of Use Case Examples, a compilation explaining the results of an experimental test as well as case examples of leading companies inside and outside Japan.
2. Highlights of the Guidelines and the Collection of Use Case Examples
The Guidelines categorize the conditions of plants in which drones are used into three groups: [i] under normal operation, [ii] under open check of facilities and [iii] upon the occurrence of disasters, and provide well-organized key points of risk assessment and countermeasures against potential risks that companies should conduct depending on respective conditions or areas over which drones fly.
The Collection of Use Case Examples provides knowledge learned from the drone demonstration test at Negishi Refinery operated by JXTG Nippon Oil & Energy Corporation and also describes leading case examples of plant operating companies and drone businesses inside and outside Japan.
These compilations are expected to contribute to accelerating companies’ safe and effective use of drones at plants and to further enhance their ability to secure the safety of plants.
Along with METI, FDMA and MHLW have released a press release concerning the Guidelines and Collection of Use Case Examples on their respective websites.
Scene of the demonstration test
Test site: Negishi Refinery, JXTG Nippon Oil & Energy Corporation
Airborne photo taken by a drone at a height of about 100m in the sky
Source: Osaka International Refining Company, Limited
3. Related documents
- Collaboration website of the Liaison Council of Three Ministries on Disaster Prevention of Petroleum Complexes and Other Facilities（in Japanese）
- Outline of Guidelines for Approaches to Safe Operation of Drones at Plants(PDF:134KB)
Division in Charge
High Pressure Gas Safety Office, Industrial and Product Safety Policy Group