Articles & Case Studies

Mini Submarines Ensure Clean Water in Wales

Posted: Tuesday 12th October 2010

A pair of innovative underwater robots have been helping to keep drinking water supplies across Wales at their highest quality levels.

Forward-thinking Welsh Water has deployed the state-of-the-art machines to inspect a range of water storage facilities across the country, to ensure that customers continue to receive the purest supplies from their taps.

The robots are operated by water quality engineering firm Panton McLeod - one of the UK’s leading names in the inspection, cleaning and repair of water storage facilities. The company has previously used the equipment in high profile projects for some of the largest names in the UK water sector, including Scottish Water and Severn Trent Water.

In the latest project for Welsh Water, Panton McLeod carried out a range of inspection and cleaning work at service reservoirs in Rogerstone Grange, Pengarnddu, Whitbourne, Blaenavon, Tynywaun and Builth Wells.

The firm used its ROV unit – a remotely operated robot fitted with lights and cameras - to carry out all necessary inspection work during the six projects. The machine can be manoeuvred like a submarine and is used while the huge underground facilities are still online, meaning that there is no need to drain the structures and customers experience no disruption to their water supplies.

During the Rogerstone Grange project, Panton McLeod also used its other robot – a large-tracked cleaning robot called the VR600 – in order to remove sediment and impurities from the water. The machine allowed this routine cleaning work to be done while the facility is online, and was also used to inspect the condition of the water tank, including checking the walls and pipework for any corrosion or damage.

Paul Henderson, operations director with Panton McLeod, said: “We’ve been using these robots for a number of years and they have now become a very important part of our operations across the UK.

“Before we began operating them, the only way water facility inspections or cleans could be carried out was by completely draining the facility and having engineers physically going into the tanks to perform the work. It is a time-consuming process that often requires millions of litres of water to be drained – and means that customers face disruptions to their water supplies, as the facility is taken out of service during the project.

“The beauty of our technology means we can carry out a thorough inspection whilst ensuring the supply through the reservoir is totally unaffected. We remotely control the ROV unit and it is able to inspect the tank quickly and safely while it is still online, meaning that there is no disruption to supplies.

“With the VR600 machine – which looks like a bit like the Pixar character WALL-E – we can also perform a routine cleaning project and remove impurities in the water without causing any disruption to supplies.

“It’s a much quicker, cost-effective and less wasteful way to perform this work, which is why more of the big names in the UK water industry are starting to use these machines as the industry standard.

“We are delighted to have provided our services for Welsh Water to ensure that drinking water standards remain at the highest levels, and look forward to working with them in the future.”

The Welsh projects mark the latest robotic work that Panton McLeod - which has offices in Nottingham, the Scottish Borders and the USA – has performed during 2010. Earlier this summer, the firm deployed its ROV unit in a new project for Bristol Water, during which the robot helped to locate the source of an elusive service reservoir leak in Weston-Super-Mare.

The firm has also deployed the machines during similar projects for Scottish Water and Wessex Water at the beginning of 2010.




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