HexCam Services //

Thermography

HexCam has the experience and expertise to cover large areas quickly and safely to obtain thermal views of building components and ground surfaces where access for ground-based thermal cameras may be impossible, require working at height or involve complex access permits.

We have access to a wide range of drones and thermal sensors and will select the equipment most suited to your end requirements. We use a high resolution (640 x 512 pixel) fully radiometric thermal sensor producing fully geolocated radiometric jpeg stills that can be used to identify thermal anomalies and to produce large area thermal radiometric orthomaps.

Why use us //

Advantages of using drones for thermal inspection and mapping

Spot large-scale features

An aerial viewpoint can quickly help to determine areas of heat loss and reveal large-scale thermal features that might be hard to determine or quantify from ground level.

Faster and safer

than using purely ground-level thermal imaging (hand-held or car-mounted) or access via MEWPs, scaffolding or rope access. Large city-wide heat networks can be fully mapped from data collected over just two nights.

Inspect the inaccessible

Drone-based thermography allows us to study areas that may require complex permits or which may be inaccessible for ground-based thermography.

Unobtrusive

Low Impact on the occupants of buildings under inspection or on asset operations while a night-time thermal drone inspection takes place.

Reliable coverage

Automated flight missions mean that areas can be inspected and mapped time after time with the confidence that thermal orthomaps can be aligned and compared to assess and quantify thermal changes over time.

Drone Services //

Our drone thermography process

The reduced separations permitted in our CAA Operational Authorisation make it easy for us to work and fly in highly complex and congested areas where close-in aerial thermal imagery may be required. We can position our drones as close as 10m from ‘Uninvolved People’ and 25m from ‘Assemblies of People’ if needed.

To ensure that our thermal data capture is consistently reliable, we have our own in-house Level 1 qualified thermographer.

We plan our flight times and our Take-Off and Landing Sites carefully to minimise night-time disruption to any local residents or businesses. Once at survey height, the propeller noise from our thermal survey drones is barely perceptible from the ground.

Contact us now to see how our aerial thermal inspection and mapping services can help to improve District Heating Network performance, to pinpoint heat loss from buildings and identify performance and safety issues with PV solar installations.

Applications of aerial thermographic inspections //

District Heat Networks (DHN)

HexCam has been working in close partnership with Danish DHN experts ‘Drone Systems ApS’, since 2018 to provide detailed radiometric thermal mapping, heat network analysis and reporting for some of the UK’s largest city-wide District Heating Networks (DHNs) including Sheffield and Nottingham. Our Innovation Gateway pilot project for Nottingham City Council won the Association for Decentralised Energy (ADE) award for Innovation in 2019.

Winter mapping allows us to identify small ‘delta-T’ heat patterns along the network route. Using Drone Systems’ Teraplan web-based portal, we provide network Operation and Maintenance teams with accurately geolocated information on acute problems, such as leaks, and on emerging and developing component problems which could become more serious and lead to expensive water and heat losses if not addressed.

Teraplan allows more informed planning and budgeting of proactive and preventative maintenance programmes. Survey results are presented in a highly visual and intuitive way making it easy to categorise, filter and prioritise any issues identified and helping network management and maintenance teams to track progress of remedial work.

Drone Systems ApS has extensive experience in aerial thermal mapping and anomaly reporting for DHNs and provides services to more than 150 district heating companies including some of the large heat networks in Denmark. Since 2015, they have mapped and analysed more than 19,500 km of pipelines and detected 1,750+ leaks, 6,000+ emerging leaks, and 3,900+ components (above 5 degrees in delta-T) all with notable heat loss.

Heat loss from buildings

Aerial thermography is a powerful building and plant inspection tool that can help property and estate owners and managers identify areas of poor or failing insulation, water leakage, cold bridging and air leakage. Improving the energy efficiency and thermal performance of our building stock is a crucial first step in the roll-out of zero-carbon electrified heating systems. HexCam’s trusted experience and track record of thermal inspection can help to deliver these carbon savings.

According the UK Government’s 2022 Net Zero Strategy Policy Paper, ‘Heat and Buildings’ accounted for 17% of the UK’s CO2 emissions in 2019. A reduction in carbon emissions of up to 62% in this area is needed by 2035 to help the UK achieve its 2050 Net Zero targets. The paper highlights that “In any heat pathway, improved energy efficiency – through investment in building fabrics and better product standards – will reduce overall energy use and costs”.

Our wide area thermal surveys help to identify heat losses from large property estates such as university campuses and hospitals. High-level aerial surveys can quickly identify buildings requiring closer inspection or priority remedial work. Our thermal surveys are tailored to the needs and priorities of each client but normally involve fully geolocated thermal anomaly observations presented through a web-based reporting portal. This method of reporting minimises ambiguity about image location or the physical positions of anomalies spotted.

We can supply radiometric 2D thermal orthomaps of estates as well as 3D radiometric thermal visualisations of buildings to help identify areas of heat loss on facades as well as rooftops.

Our ability to repeat surveys at different times and to present layered data can help estate managers to compare heat loss under different scenarios such as after changes of building use or occupation as well as before and after building improvement and refurbishment works.

Solar (PV) thermal inspections

HexCam carries out aerial thermographic inspections of ground-mounted solar (PV) farms and rooftop solar installations. Thermal imaging can help to quickly identify areas and sections of a plant that are not functioning and to diagnose PV module and cell-level anomalies that may impact the safety or revenue generating capacity of a PV asset.

We carry out aerial thermography in accordance with BS 62446 Part 3 (‘Photovoltaic Modules and Plants – Outdoor Infrared Thermography’) and have in-house PV engineering expertise to ensure that our reports are actionable and provide asset managers with good quality data and analysis with which to focus and prioritise remedial work.

Drones for ecological studies

Using thermal Search and Rescue (SAR) techniques we have helped with:

  • Inspection of Black Backed Gull protected nest sites area to identify predators within the fenceline of a protected area prior to the fence being sealed.
  • Locating skylark nests to ensure that nest sites are properly protected during construction work.
  • Finding missing dogs!

We’re happy to apply our experience of flying thermal sensors to any new use task and thrive when forming collaborative teams with experts in their own field. So, if you’re an ecologist with an interest in aerial thermal studies then please get in contact.