Like every niche, in every industry, asset inspection is undergoing a period of significant change. As asset owners and managers are more highly scrutinised, and inaction is met with stronger penalties – both regulatory and socially – leaders are gradually learning the only way to really minimise risk and optimise optics and operations, is to invest in data – good data.
Launched in the UK in 2019, Puffin Technology captures the visual data that drives robust asset inspection, and through a new partnership with Australian innovator, Trendspek, it is also delivering unprecedented ways to use it.
Between 2019 and 2021, while the world was fixated on Covid-19 and lockdowns, software engineer, Kyle Veitch was focused on something else – an industry on the verge of great change, and the technology that would propel it into the future.
Launching Puffin Technology into the UK, Kyle and his growing team introduced a unique level of expertise in asset capture, combined with ground-breaking Australian asset modelling technology, to pioneer a new and more accurate approach to asset inspection.
“With a history working for a world leader in testing and inspection, I could see the tremendous opportunity in the industry for drone, robot and other capture that equipped asset owners and operators with more accurate data than ever before,” says Kyle Veitch, CEO of Puffin.
“Bringing that capture together with the most high-fidelity, interactive modelling, as offered by Trendspek, only increased that opportunity as it finally gave companies a way to use their data to clearly visualise their asset, without leaving their office.”
Expertise: an industry-changing asset
For both Puffin and Trendspek, premium, advanced technology is at the centre of what they offer.
With a new category of software in the asset inspection space, Precision Asset Intelligence software, Trendspek is transforming outdated processes by taking the display of data, and interaction with it through a visual interface, to a new level.
“Our platform is really a game changer in asset inspection, minimising the need for people to be on site, in dangerous situations, and enabling significant work to be done from the office, that would normally have required a physical inspection,” says Derek Feebrey, CEO of Trendspek.
For Puffin, in addition to using Trendspek to process data, transforming it into models, they utilise the very latest enterprise drones, capable of capturing hundreds of thousands of data points from any one asset.
But for both companies, underpinning their dedication to advanced technology, is a level of expertise in this advancing space, rarely seen elsewhere.
“We see posts on social media regularly about ‘the highest quality or survey grade’, and it just shows how far behind so many providers are,” says Kyle. “The future – actually right now, thanks to drones, robots and Trendspek – is in very high-resolution data, intelligently processed to deliver interactive models.”
“At Puffin, our expertise is part of what makes us different. We have a deep understanding of everything from what legal permissions are required for drones, to how to approach data capture for complex industrial assets. We pride ourselves on knowing the pixel density we need to target – only then are we confident, that if an issue or defect exists, we’ll capture it. It’s that expertise, that knowledge, built over decades, that makes us a specialist.”
The team at Puffin is invested in the thought process that comes before and sits behind a quality and effective asset inspection. Analysing the customer request, Puffin draws on its team’s experience to know what the customer needs, not just wants.
It identifies what is best done by drone and by which team members and what kit (drones aren’t the only tool in the box for data capture), eliminating expensive scaffolding costs and reducing safety concerns.
“Now Puffin can combine that expertise with their unparalleled capture, and transform the data into a model within hours using Trendspek, rather than the weeks of meticulous work it used to take, they are the ultimate partner for any UK-based asset owning company,” Derek says.
Accuracy: in demand and on the rise
Removing the need for onsite inspection is not just a matter of having the tools to make it possible, but ensuring asset owners can feel secure they are still able to make well-informed decisions – that they can retain or even improve the confidence they had when inspecting in-person.
Bringing Trendspek together with high-quality drone capture agents, like Puffin, underpins that accuracy, and in fact, delivers a higher degree of certainty than asset owners have ever had before.
“In the past, asset inspectors had to do a lot of ‘guess work’ – estimating based on what they could see and deduce,” says Derek. “They were working with buildings and structures, most of which had very hard-to-reach, and really unsafe-to-reach areas, and they either had to assume there were no defects, or take a sample from elsewhere on the asset and blindly apply it to the unseen area.”
“It’s truly amazing what we can pick up with drones – we are able to access the inaccessible,” says Kyle. “Our approved operational safety case for the UK CAA, permits ‘reduced separation’ which puts us in the top 1% of drone operators. It means we can deploy enterprise drones, such as a DJI M300, within just 10 metres of non-involved people. For one client, we did a complete inspection and identified significant corrosion that would cause major structural issues in the near future, and they never even knew it was there.”
Increasing visibility and enabling direct viewing of previously unreachable locations, together with a superior level of detail, is delivering vastly enhanced accuracy, which can drive everything from better maintenance to more cost-effective insurance premiums.
Security: the new non-negotiable
For many of the companies Puffin and Trendspek work with – whether in the UK, Australia or other parts of the world – the assets they maintain are of national importance, providing the energy, fuel, water and transport that keeps each country moving.
“Security is a top concern for many of our customers, and many of Puffin’s customers,” says Derek. “Trendspek stores their data, long-term, protecting it and their communication, under our ISO 27001 certification.”
“Similarly,” says Kyle. “We take security very seriously, not only selecting technology partners like Trendspek that have the highest of standards, but also respecting, down to the letter, any non-disclosure agreements. We just get on with it, safe in the knowledge we’ve worked with some of the UK’s biggest and most critical infrastructure, manufacturing and energy companies.”
A partnership for progress
Trendspek and Puffin began their partnership in 2020 and continue to evolve how they work together and how they cater to the rapidly evolving needs of customers.