Articles & Case Studies

Panton’s Mini Submarines Ensure Clean Water for All

Posted: Friday 27th August 2010

An innovative underwater robot has been helping to keep drinking water supplies at their purest levels across Weston-Super-Mare.

Forward thinking Bristol Water has brought in the technology to ensure that its customers in Weston Super Mare continue to enjoy the purest possible supplies at the tap, following the discovery of a leak at a historic water storage facility in the area.

Bristol Water called upon water quality engineering firm Panton McLeod to deploy its innovative ROV unit to inspect a Victorian service reservoir - or huge underground water storage tank – in order to locate the source of the leak.

The ROV – a remotely operated robot fitted with lights and cameras - is used exclusively by Scottish-based Panton McLeod, and has previously been used to undertake inspection work for some of the UK’s biggest water companies. The technology is unique in that it enables the firm to carry out inspections while facilities are still online, meaning that there is no need to drain the structures and customers’ experience no disruption to their water supplies.

However, during the Weston Super Mare project Bristol Water took the reservoir out of service as an extra precaution, in order to further protect water supplies in the area.

Thanks to Panton McLeod’s equipment, a series of cracks in the walls of the tank have been discovered as the likely sources of the leak and Bristol Water is now identifying the best method to repair the facility.

Paul Henderson, operations director at Panton McLeod, said: “Before we began using the ROV unit, the only way water facility inspections could be carried out was by completely draining the facility and having engineers physically going into the tanks to inspect them.

“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.

“Bristol Water contacted us to see if we could help locate the source of a leak that was undetectable using traditional methods. They took the reservoir out of supply as an additional precaution, but kept the facility full of water so that we could identify any problems.

“The fact that our machine completed a successful inspection - and was able to detect the possible source of the leak - shows the real value that it has have in keeping vital water supplies up and running.

“We are delighted to be working with Bristol Water to ensure that drinking water standards remain at the highest levels, and look forward to working with them in the future.”

The inspection marks the first-ever robotic work that Panton McLeod has carried out for Bristol Water on a live facility in the region. It follows a successful trial of the technology carried out at the Timsbury Reservoir last year, which allowed Bristol Water to check that the equipment posed no risks to water quality standards.

The ROV unit is an innovative inspection robot manoeuvred like a submarine through the water in a service reservoir and is able to inspect the walls of the tank, joints, and the roof soffit for damage or leakage.

The firm also uses another machine called the VR600 - a large-tracked robot that is manoeuvred along the floor of a service reservoir and removes any sediment or impurities in the water. It can also be used to inspect the condition of the water tanks, including checking the walls and pipework for corrosion or damage.

Both machines are remotely operated from the surface and fitted with cameras and lighting equipment, allowing staff controlling the sub to assess the interior of the tanks. They are also used solely within clean potable water environments and meticulously cleaned and disinfected prior to every use to ensure they can be safely used in the public water supply, and Panton McLeod conducts rigorous tests before and after each inspection.

Panton McLeod has offices in both Nottingham and the Scottish Borders and is one of the best known names in the industry, working with water companies on the inspection, cleaning and repair of drinking water structures and pipelines.

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