Health and safety drones a gamechanger, says Thames
Using a new fleet of drones for inspecting large equipment will be a ‘gamechanger' for Thames Water’s health and safety team, the utility has predicted.
After a successful trial last summer, Thames is now deploying the airborne devices to inspect cranes and other equipment at height, a much cheaper and safer alternative to previously available methods.
“The great benefit they bring is that they enable us to inspect cranes and other equipment at height without putting people into potentially hazardous situations,” said Carol Moore, Thames Water’s head of safety, health and wellbeing training and statutory compliance.
And there’s a cost benefit too. “To get scaffolding around a crane so it can be inspected costs between £10k and £12k every year,” she said. “For a digester it can be as high as between £75k and £90k every time it needs inspecting.”
In the summer, the drone was used in a trial at Abbey Mills pumping station to see if the images it produced were of sufficient quality to satisfy insurance inspectors and the Health and Safety Executive. “We found that the HSE was satisfied,” said Carol. “It means we can’t rule out human inspections totally but they can be used in three out of every four years, for example.”
And with around 100 cranes that need inspecting every year, it’s clear her hopes of a whole fleet of drones are fully justified.
“Cranes are just the start,” she said. “We want the thermal imaging cameras we can attach to the drones to test for leakage in the trunk mains and our Infrastructure Alliance will find it useful for reservoir inspections, leaks, bursts, roof inspections and aerators – if you see bubbles from the air, that means diffused aeration. In slow sand filter beds, you’re looking for discolouration.”
Thames Water’s trials with the drones have attracted the attention of other water companies, many of whom are finding other varied and profitable uses for drone technology. For example, both South West Water and Anglian Water have trialled the use of drones with thermal imaging for detecting leakage.
- Coroner expresses concern over streetworks hole death A coroner has said "more could have been done" to prevent a man falling to his death in a hole dug on behalf of Affinity... Read More >
- Clarity on legionella in revised guidelines Guidance on the management and control of legionella bacteria in water systems has been updated and clarified by the... Read More >
- European first as Thames P-plant produces fertiliser Thames Water's £2M nutrient-recovery reactor, the first of its kind in Europe, is now producing sanitised fertiliser from... Read More >
- Interview: Yorkshire Water procurement head Andy Clark Yorkshire Water's Andy Clark tells Robin Hackett why the company is making major changes to its procurement strategy Read More >
- Eco-friendly phosphorus removal: Soneco boom Amid the clamour for effective new means of phosphorus removal, Power & Water CEO Gareth Morgan discusses his... Read More >
- Opinion: Add trees for a future water-friendly landscape The time is now to put trees at the heart of land management policy and reap all the benefits they provide, The Woodland... Read More >
- Water companies and BIM: realising the potential The utilities sector has lagged behind in implementing BIM, and has yet to fully realise its potential for maintenance as... Read More >
- Innovative survey technology helps CWA pipeline project A £10M project that saw CWA add a duplication main in North Lanarkshire involved the use of PureTech's PipeDiver... Read More >