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WATCH: Ford is using 'Inspection Drones' to keep factory workers on the ground

2018-08-29 08:58

Image: The News Market

Imagine if a simple innovation suddenly allowed you to carry out an arduous but essential chore in a tenth of the time it would normally take and without the safety risks of working at dangerous heights.

That’s been the case for Ford employees who are now using cameras mounted on drones to safely and efficiently inspect high-rise gantries, pipework and roof areas at the company’s Dagenham engine factory in England.

A laborious task

Previously, the team carried out this important maintenance work by using automated extendable platforms and scaffolding to check 40m-long gantries that support the plant’s heavy machinery. Each inspection area would take a laborious 12 hours to complete.

READ: Is that a Focus RS drifting around drones? Watch 'Dronekhana'

Now, with feet firmly on the ground and controlling drones equipped with GoPro cameras, maintenance staff can thoroughly inspect each area in just 12 minutes. The whole production facility can be covered in a day, zoning in on hard-to-reach areas to ensure they are well-maintained and comply to rigorous safety standards.

What do you think of using drones to check safety conditions in the workplace? Email us

Pat Manning, machining manager, Ford Dagenham engine factory, said: "We’d joked about having a robot do the work when there was a lightbulb moment – use drones instead.

"We used to have to scale heights of up to 50m to do the necessary checks on the roof and machining areas. Now we can cover the entire plant in one day and without the risk of team members having to work at dangerous heights." 

                                                                    Image: The News Market

With the time saved, the team at Dagenham can carry out more frequent inspections, without having to shut facilities to construct the scaffolding that was once necessary.

Ford’s drones are also set to work inspecting pipework, locating air leaks and checking machinery. The company is now evaluating the possibility of using this high-flying technology in other regions.


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