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Drones for Utilities: Severn Trent Water

Last updated on

November 16, 2020


    Do you want to find out how you can use drones for industrial inspection?

    Our industry experts George Burne and Steve Blair are holding a webinar where they will take an in-depth look at using drones for industrial inspection and site mapping with co-host Duncan Turner, Drone Team Lead for Severn Trent Water.

    The webinar is taking place on Wednesday 18th November at 2:00pm. Whether you work currently in the water and utility sector or are looking to provide a service for companies in the water industry this webinar is for you. You can save your seat here.

    What is the future of drones for utilities?

    PWC, a major research body produced a commercial drone report that lay predictions for the drone market on a global scale. In their assessment of the global drone market ‘Clarity from Above’, PwC estimated commercial opportunities derived from UAV technology to be in excess of $127 billion. With high levels of adoption expected in sectors such as Agriculture, Telecommunications and Transportation. PwC believes that drones will disrupt the most in the Infrastructure sector which covers surveying, civil engineering and construction.

    Case Study: Severn Trent Water

    The drone industry is set to grow exponentially in the future with more and more early adopters investing in internal drone teams for inspection and surveying. One such business ahead of the curve is Severn Trent Water, a regional, state-owned water authority based in the Midlands and responsible for water supply management, and waste water treatment and disposal. The business is located in the catchment areas of two of Britain’s largest rivers – the Severn and the Trent.

    Why did Severn Trent Water want to use drones for industrial inspection?

    Severn Trent Water were looking to improve their utility inspection processes by incorporating a drone fleet into the business. The aim was to see if by introducing specialist drones the business could make financial and time savings.

    What was the drone solution for their business?

    Following a series of consultations including several trial flights using the drones and some inspections into the various uses, Severn Trent Water decided to invest in a fleet of drones for a number of different use cases, including using drones for industrial inspection.

    Their full fleet included:

    Drones for industrial inspection

    What was the benefit of using drones for inspection?

    Severn Trent Water utilised their drones for a variety of applications in the business. The Elios inspection drone was put to work performing tasks previously done by humans in potentially dangerous situations such as inspecting pipe bridges. Severn Trent Water investigated drone use in other utility companies around the UK and have found that drones can displace scaffolding costs by using them for initial inspections. The company found using drones for industrial inspection saved time, money and made operations safer.

    At the time of the report savings had already hit the £750,000 mark with the second year of use expected to  double this amount to £1.5m. In fact their first job paid for the entire of the drone team and ELIOS system. We spoke to drone team lead, Duncan Turner to find out exactly what they are using their drones for, as well as the financial and time-based benefits they are getting from the use of drones.

    “Severn Trent Water save £750,000 in first year”


    What’s next for Severn Trent Water?

    WingtraOne for Surveying

    With the very successful introduction of a drone team and fleet to the business, Severn Trent Water are now looking at upgrading their fleet by adding a fixed-wing VTOL drone. On the hottest day of the year so far COPTRZ demonstrated the Wingtra fixed-wing drone flying over Ladybower Reservoir, once the training ground for the great Dambusters raid for the Lancashire bombers. Watch the full video here:

    Using a drone for surveying applications

    The COPTRZ used the data captured by the drone to create a 3D map of the reservoir using PiX4D. Severn Trent Water would usually spend several days conducting a survey like this but by using the Wingtra drone the survey took just 90 minutes to complete. We spoke to drone team lead Duncan Turner about the benefits of using a drone for surveying applications in the business. The drone means the survey can be conducted with high efficiency and produce detailed results whilst saving time and cost to the business.

    Ladybower Reservoir 3D map using PiX4D:

    James and George, both UAV Strategists for COPTRZ comment on how drones are transforming the Utility companies and businesses in infrastructure

    “The use of drones is rapidly changing the way we work for the better. Working faster and collecting more data then ever before makes drones a must-have tool within the utility industry.”

    James Pick, UAV Strategist and Survey Specialist, COPTRZ – Connect on Linkedin


    “Drones are quickly becoming a vital asset for the utilities industry. Having a quick and safe inspection tool that allows for detailed analysis is a real game-changer and valuable asset for any on-site team.


    When people start to realise and accept that drones are a reliable and sophisticated tool, the whole world will be investing in the safety of their team.”

    George Burne, UAV Strategist and Inspection Specialist, COPTRZ – Connect on Linkedin 


    Working in infrastructure and want to discuss a drone strategy?

    We have expert UAV strategists from the Inspection and Surveying industry that would be happy to discuss your requirements and help you to build a drone strategy that fits your budget and can demonstrate the applications at your site. We can build bespoke solutions including the training, hardware and software needed to introduce a drone team to your business.

    If you want to find out more about using drones for industrial inspection, you can contact our industry expert George Burne today.


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