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Thursday 30 June 2011

Water tower gets robo-clean

First Water Tower Robot Clean for Panton McLeod

29th June 2011

Water quality engineering firm Panton McLeod has completed another first in its work within the UK’s water sector after cleaning a storage tower with robotic technology.

The firm used its VR600 cleaning robot to clean the interior of a water tower in Wiltshire for Wessex Water while it was still active and in service, ensuring minimal disruption for customers in the region.

The project at Minety Tower near Wootton Basset represented the first time that Panton McLeod has ever used the innovative machine to clean an elevated water storage structure in the UK.
In order to access the facility, the firm had to hire a crane in order to lift the robot to the top of the 35 meters high tower before disinfecting the machine and lowering it into the structure.

A team of operators then manoeuvred the remotely-controlled machine throughout the interior of the structure – in order to remove any build up of natural materials on the floor of the facility. The routine work ensures that the drinking water stored in the tower remains at the highest quality levels.

Paul Henderson, operations director at Panton McLeod, said: “We regularly use the VR600 machine for cleaning service reservoirs and storage tanks across the UK. In recent years, the machine has been a vital part of our work for some of the biggest companies in the water sector, including Scottish Water and Severn Trent Water.

“However, before the project at Minety Tower, we had never used the robot to clean a water tower. It represented a big challenge for our underwater team, but we were able to use our expertise to ensure that the project was a success.

“The most challenging aspect was lifting the robot to the top of the 35 metres tall tower in the first place, so we could insert it into the facility and start the cleaning process. We had to hire a special 55 tonne crane to hoist it to the top, but once this was complete, the rest of the project was fairly straight forward.

“We’re delighted with how smoothly the whole cleaning process was carried out, and proud of our team who ensured that this challenging job was completed swiftly. We’re always happy when we identify new ways to deploy our technology, and we hope that this project will lead to more water tower cleans in the future.”

The VR600 is a special tracked robot that is manoeuvred along the floor of any water storage structure and removes any sediment build up on the floor of the structure. It can also be used to inspect the condition of the water tanks, including checking the walls and interior of the facilities for corrosion or damage.

Panton McLeod also uses a specialist ROV inspection robot which is manoeuvred like a submarine through the water in a service reservoir and is able to inspect the walls of the tank, joints, and the roof soffit for damage or leakage.

Both machines are remotely operated from the surface and fitted with cameras and lighting equipment, allowing staff controlling the sub to assess the interior of the tanks. They are also used solely within clean potable water environments and meticulously cleaned and disinfected prior to every use to ensure they can be safely used in the public water supply, and Panton McLeod conducts rigorous tests before and after each inspection.

More information about the machines and Panton McLeod’s other services for the UK water sector can be found at their


You can see the VR600 in action on YouTube

Water tower tanks are traditionally cleaned and serviced by taking them offline, draining them and then sending workers into the tank via the access hatches to sweep and flush the built-up sediment down the overflow/waste line by hand. Sometimes a small rowboat was lowered inside for inspections. We suppose the health and safety regulations now make the cost of cranes to lift robot vacuums (basically high-tech pool cleaners) into the tank a cheaper option.

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