Ford employees who are now using cameras mounted on drones to inspect high-rise gantries, pipework and roof areas at the company’s Dagenham Engine Plant in the UK. Previously, workers carried out this important maintenance work by using automated extendable platforms and scaffolding to check 40-metre-long gantries that support the plant’s heavy machinery. Each inspection area would take a laborious 12 hours to complete. (Milestones – 40 Million Ford Engines Produced at Dagenham)
Now, controlling drones equipped with GoPro cameras allow maintenance staff to inspect each area in just 12 minutes. The whole production facility can be covered in a day, looking at hard-to-reach areas to ensure they are well-maintained and comply to safety standards.
“We’d joked about having a robot do the work when there was a light-bulb moment – use drones instead,” said Pat Manning, machining manager, 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 without the risk of team members having to work at dangerous heights.”
With the time saved, the team at Dagenham can carry out more frequent inspections, without having to shut facilities to construct the scaffolding that was once necessary.
Ford’s drones are also set to work inspecting pipework, locating air leaks and checking machinery. The company is now evaluating the possibility of using this high-flying technology in other regions.
Ford of Europe
FOE is responsible for producing, selling and servicing Ford brand vehicles in 50 individual markets and employs approximately 54,000 employees at its wholly owned facilities and approximately 69,000 people when joint ventures and unconsolidated businesses are included. In addition to Ford Motor Credit Company, Ford Europe operations include Ford Customer Service Division and 24 manufacturing facilities (16 wholly owned or consolidated joint venture facilities and eight unconsolidated joint venture facilities). The first Ford cars were shipped to Europe in 1903 – the same year Ford Motor Company was founded. European production started in 1911.