April 14, 2021
In collaboration with the Fire and Disaster Management Agency (FDMA) and the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare (MHLW), the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) has revised the Collection of Use Case Examples of Drones at Plants. This revision has added four case examples from companies in Japan, and the results of two demonstration tests. It is expected to further promote the use of drones in the field of plant safety.
In March 2019, METI compiled the Guidelines for Approaches to Safe Operation of Drones at Plants (hereinafter the "Drone Guidelines") and the Collection of Use Case Examples, the latter of which presents case examples from leading companies inside and outside Japan. These documents were produced in cooperation with the Fire and Disaster Management Agency (FDMA) and the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare (MHLW). The aim was to promote safe utilization of drones in the field of plant safety.
Furthermore, in April 2019, METI compiled meticulous approaches to defining hazardous areas under the latest international standards. The resulting document is Guidelines for Meticulous Approaches to Defining Hazardous Areas in Plants (hereinafter the "Explosion-proof Guidelines"). This has enabled companies to expand the scope of use of electronic equipment and other devices on the premises of their plants without lowering the level of plant safety below what is stipulated in laws and regulations.
Using these two sets of guidelines in combination will increase the range of possible use cases for drones. The Collection of Use Case Examples has been revised to reflect the results of demonstration tests conducted to confirm the effectiveness of the guidelines.
2. Highlights of the demonstration tests and the revision of the Collection of Use Case Examples
The following two demonstration tests were conducted during this period.
- Aerial surveillance imaging of an operating resin manufacturing facility.
- Close-up imaging of tank external surfaces, and comparison with conventional inspection methods.
First, the hazardous areas were reviewed based on the Explosion-proof Guidelines, after which the risks, countermeasures and the competence of the drone operators were assessed in accordance with the Drone Guidelines. Then, flight plans were created based on the results, and demonstration tests were conducted.
In addition to adding the results of these demonstration tests to the Collection of Use Case Examples, METI also researched use case examples of drones by companies in Japan, and added to the collection three examples of indoor inspections and one example of an inspection at a steel mill.
This revision is expected to further promote the use of drones in the field of plant safety.
- Scenes from the demonstration tests
Credit: Left: JSR Corporation; Right: Mitsui Chemicals, Inc.
3. Related material
Division in Charge
High Pressure Gas Safety Office, Industrial and Product Safety Policy Group