What are you looking for?


Safe transport of (petro)chemical samples via drones


Today, wet cargo ships arriving in port need to verify their cargo’s composition before unloading can begin. Once a ship has docked, an SGS inspector gathers several samples of its cargo. Then, these samples are sent to an SGS laboratory where the analysis can be performed. Until now, all samples have been transported by road.

SGS Oil, Gas & Chemical Antwerp, Belgium
SGS Oil, Gas & Chemical Antwerp, Belgium


The objective of the Samplifly project is to demonstrate the technical, legal and commercial viability of drone-based transportation service for petrochemical samples in a port environment. An exciting innovation for this sector.

By using drones to transport samples for analysis, SGS intends to improve its operations and value proposition for the industry.

Adding value

The road transportation companies currently employed to transport samples use regular vans. Unavoidably, these companies face daily issues such as traffic congestion, bridge openings or natural barriers. This can significantly increase lead times and transport duration directly impacting SGS’s operations. Moreover, road transport contributes to high NOx and CO2 emissions within the port.

SGS’s use of drones will provide a transportation service that will be up to four times faster, more ecological – with savings up to 80% (full life cycle included), and more integrated with real-time information. Consequently, ships will be able to unload quicker than before, freeing up valuable dock-time.

SGS Oil, Gas & Chemical Antwerp, Belgium

Service architecture

This service is provided with advanced drone technology and a comprehensive software platform to ensure efficient operations.
  1. The process begins when an SGS inspector places an order for delivery on ADLC's web ordering interface. This user-friendly platform allows for easy order tracking
  2. At the time of pick-up, the drone will be available at the designated take-off location, where the inspector can load the drone
  3. Then, the drone flies automatically from the take-off location to the destination using its onboard computers and navigation systems. The drone will be remotely monitored by a pilot in a ground control system who is ready to take action in case of incident and ensure the safety of the flight. Throughout the operation, SGS is kept informed of the status of the order through the ADLC platform
  4. Finally, on completion of the flight, SGS’s laboratory technician unloads the samples and conducts the analysis

The main building blocks of the service include:

  • Drone technology
    Reliable drones equipped with onboard computers and navigation systems that allow for automated flights (BVLOS)
  • Operations control center
    Software to manage and automate ADLC’s operations
  • Ground control station
    A system enabling remote monitoring of the drone during flight
  • Ordering platform
    An easy-to-use and convenient platform for placing and tracking orders

Strategic partnership

To run the Samplifly project, a strategic partnership has been established between ADLC, SGS and BASF. The unique combination of ADLC’s drone expertise, SGS’s testing and inspection expertise, and BASF’s chemical expertise, enables us to address the Samplifly project’s complex technical and regulatory challenges.

SGS Oil, Gas & Chemical Antwerp, Belgium
SGS Oil, Gas & Chemical Antwerp, Belgium

Current status

ADLC, SGS and BASF began testing beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) flights in the Port of Antwerp, using a vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) fixed-wing aircraft. These flights pave the way for the safe and efficient transportation of dangerous goods in the coming months.