It’s expensive and wastes time- the main moans you hear when you ask someone down the pub how they feel about health and safety- and something we hear a lot in our industry.  It is therefore extremely refreshing to hear about a company taking an initiative that not only is safety and environmentally conscious, but saves the company a hefty amount of money too.

Water company Severn Trent has announced that they save an estimated £30,000 per year by carrying out maintenance inspections via drones.  In light of this, they are currently looking into other uses that this can be applied to; such as checking the optimisation of treatment processes, thermal imaging of pipes to detect leakage and creating 3D models of assets.  The use of a drone for surveying sites also means a reduction of its environmental impact and disturbance of wildlife.

Severn Trent’s major works include surveys of dams, rivers and its buildings, which until now would have been contracted out to third parties. The use of drones also reduces the cost of hiring scaffolding and having to manage the risk of sending someone up there.  There is also plans to implement the machines in assisting with remotely managing Severn Trent’s solar farms.

“We believe initial outlay on equipment would be tens of thousands of pounds, together with wages, but this would be repaid relatively quickly,” a Severn Trent spokesman told Utility Week.

“For example, if we decided to use a drone to survey one of our digesters before cleaning, it would normally cost up to £50,000 to put a full set of scaffolding around the silo to enable a team to manually inspect it. With a drone, we can reduce the amount of scaffolding, reduce costs and reduce risk.”

After a period of evaluation, Severn Trent has decided to bring two full-time drone pilots on board.

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