Caledonia Water Alliance wins award for safer sewer surveys

Along with Environmental Techniques, Good Friday Robotics and Scottish Water, Caledonia Water Alliance (CWA) has won the Pipeline Industries Guild Utility Pipeline Technology Award 2022 for adapting drones for advanced and safer sewer surveys.

Many sewers in Scotland are difficult to inspect using traditional CCTV techniques such as crawler cameras, float surveys or walk-through surveys. So drone technology was developed to allow us to access the sewer system.

The technology was tested and developed for several months before finally being used on a project in Glasgow.

The main advantages of drone surveys include; reduced time in confined spaces and reduced risk to operators, as the drone can be flown from the ground surface with less need to enter manholes.

As the drone flies near the top of the sewer, it is not limited by uneven inverts, narrow channels, debris, high flow rates, etc. This allows us to perform more critical asset investigations than using traditional techniques alone.

The reduced number of operators and vehicles needed on site means that drone surveying has a much lower carbon footprint. Drone surveys can be done safely with two- and three-man crews, compared to nine for a safe entry survey, while reducing the need for jets and flow control.

WinCan reports detailing structural condition and maintenance levels can be populated automatically, improving productivity and reliability of results. The drone records 4K footage of the sewers with effective LED lighting. The higher elevation of the drone camera in the sewer also allows a high level of detail to be observed even when there is a lot of debris in the pipe.

3D LiDAR cloud mapping In addition to recording high quality video footage of the assets, the drone is also equipped with a LiDAR scanner which produces a 3D map of the asset. The map can then be interrogated using 3D software to measure dimensions, debris levels, deformations, connections, etc.

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