Broadspectrum's joint venture company, Utilita Water Solutions (Utilita), has used confined space drone technology for the first time to perform an internal inspection on Queensland Urban Utilities' de-watered sludge container at Oxley Creek Sewage Treatment Plant.

A crash-proof drone was deployed to capture high resolution images of structural elements inside the large sludge container for engineering evaluation. This allowed a structural engineer to direct the drone to points of interest and make technical assessments in real-time. The flight path was also recorded to benchmark future inspections that can be repeated using the same reference markers.

A traditional inspection of this nature would require a lengthy shutdown of the asset, expensive scaffolding installation and a team operating within a confined space for long hours over a number of days. The drone inspection was completed in just a few hours, and now allows more regular inspections to take place with limited disruption.

Utilita's Contract Director, Nathan Hallam, said, "The success of the drone inspection trial has allowed QUU to make a comprehensive assessment of the structural integrity of the asset, safely and quickly; extending the operational life of the sludge container".

Utilita's Insights and Innovation Manager, Allan George, said, "Using different variations of drones has led to us being able to run both internal and external inspections of assets with real success. We want to keep developing our use of this technology to create new opportunities for us to improve our performance and efficiency across our contract".

Utilita Water Solutions is a Broadspectrum and Downer Utilities joint venture company.

Recognition for positive collaboration

QUU recently awarded Utilita with two Operations and Service Delivery (OSD) Awards for 2018: the Delivery Partner Collaboration Award, in recognition of their commitment to supporting QUU's 'Safe Simple' program across all maintenance activities; and the 2018 Innovation Partnership Award, for using two new technologies - Remotely Operated Robots (ROR) and Neutral Output Discharge Elimination System (NO DES) - in a joint trial of reservoir cleaning.

Richard Petterson, Executive Leader of Operations and Service Delivery at QUU said, "Utilita are always taking a positive approach and sharing their learnings and insights, demonstrating a truly collaborative and unified approach to safe production across both of our organisations".