Ford is Using Camera Drones for Engine Plant Inspection in the UK

What once took about 12 hours now takes 12 minutes.

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Ford Motor Company is using camera drones to inspect high-rise gantries, piping and ceiling areas at the Dagenham Engine Plant near London. As the press release explains, these tasks were previously all relegated to manual labor, costing Ford employees valuable time and carrying substantial risk along with it. 

What once took maintenance workers up to 12 hours to complete by climbing on automated platforms and scaffolding is now said to be accomplished in 12 minutes. Drones in inspection have recently garnered high appeal in the industry with European utility companies increasingly looking toward unmanned and automated alternatives to the conventionally laborious manual process of yesteryear. 

Ford Motor Company

The camera drones used by Ford are fitted with GoPros, allowing the staff to inspect individual areas within 12 minutes each and completing an inspection of the entire facility in a single day. 

“We’d joked about having a robot do the work when there was a lightbulb moment—use drones instead,” said Pat Manning, machining manager at the Ford Dagenham Engine Plant. “We used to have to scale heights of up to 50 meters 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 says it’s currently considering implementing unmanned aerial inspections at engine plants in other regions. By using high-resolution cameras mounted on easily piloted drones, Ford could benefit from eliminating risk to staff, increasing overall efficiency and garnering the same (if not more accurate) results. Ultimately, Ford is yet another well-established corporation proving that drones are not only financially advantageous but can legitimately keep people out of harm’s way.