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.
Gridlock is a challenge impacting many small businesses and their employees. It is not only traffic jams during commute time concerning business owners. Increased traffic congestion is eating into the bottom lines of small firms that rely on transportation to run their businesses. Congestion on the nation’s roads is estimated to cost the American economy $87.2 billion annually, according to testimony before Congress.
At a recent hearing of the House Small Business Committee’s Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight, entrepreneurs discussed traffic congestion challenges, and expressed hope for relief in the upcoming highway bill.
“As Congress writes the Surface Transportation Reauthorization Act, I want to make sure that we are taking small businesses’ needs into account,” Congressman Jason Altmire (D-PA-) said. “Congestion on our nation’s highways reduces productivity and inflates production costs for small businesses everyday. The Surface Transportation Reauthorization Act would both create good paying jobs and provide small businesses with the 21st Century infrastructure they need.”
Congress is in the process of writing the Surface Transportation Reauthorization Act. Witnesses stressed the importance of small business participation, citing the fact that small firms comprise the vast majority of the construction and manufacturing sectors.
According to a study by the Associated Equipment Distributors, every dollar of direct spending on heavy construction equipment–the kind used for infrastructure projects–puts $3.19 back into the economy. In 2007, $10.2 billion in direct spending for the purchase of these tools generated $92 billion in direct earnings, and supported over 262,000 jobs.