A Ford manufacturing plant is using drones to inspect the facility’s machinery, roofing and other equipment to improve safety while saving money and time.
Before putting the drones to work, Ford’s maintenance team put up scaffolding and platforms for the inspections that took 12 hours to complete. It wasn’t just the time and work to put up the scaffolding that was costly. The platform and scaffolding construction made it necessary to close the facility during inspections.
Now, with feet firmly on the ground and controlling drones equipped with GoPro cameras, maintenance workers can thoroughly inspect each area in under 15 minutes. The entire manufacturing facility can be covered in a day, zoning in on hard-to-reach areas to ensure they are well-maintained and comply with rigorous safety standards.
“We’d joked about having a robot do the work when there was a lightbulb moment – use drones instead,” said Pat Manning, machining manager, Ford Dagenham Engine Plant. “We used to have to scale heights of up to 50 metres 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.”
Ford’s drones are also being utilized for inspecting pipework, locating air leaks and checking machinery. Ford is now evaluating the possibility of using this high-flying technology at other facilities.