An innovative robot team has been deployed across Wales in order to maintain the highest quality drinking water standards for the nation's households.
Forward-thinking Dwr Cymru Welsh Water has expanded its use of state-of-the-art robotic machines to inspect a range of water storage facilities across South Wales, to ensure that customers continue to receive the purest supplies from their taps.
The robots are operated by water quality engineering firm Panton McLeod - one of the UK's leading names in the inspection, cleaning and repair of water storage facilities. The company has previously used the equipment in high profile projects for some of the largest names in the UK water sector, including Scottish Water and Severn Trent Water.
In its latest series of projects for Welsh Water, Panton McLeod used its ROV unit - a remotely-operated underwater submarine fitted with cameras - to inspect huge underground water storage tanks in Barry, Cardiff, Powys and Merthyr Tydfil, which provide fresh drinking water to hundreds of thousands of people throughout the region.
The machine can be manoeuvred like a submarine and is used to inspect huge underground facilities while they are still online, meaning that is no need to drain the structures and customers experience no disruption to their water supplies.
Gordon Macdonald, who heads Panton McLeod's robotic team, said: "We're delighted to be continuing our work with Welsh Water and using our robotic equipment in new areas across the country.
"The beauty with these machines is that they can be deployed while water storage facilities are still online, meaning that there is no need to drain them in order to carry out inspection or cleaning work. The alternative is taking a storage tank completely offline, which could potentially put pressure on other parts of the network and, in extreme cases, lead to customers facing disruption to their supplies.
"By using our robots, Welsh Water is ensuring that water supplies across the country continue to remain at their highest quality levels - and that households receive water of the highest quality."
The latest robotic projects follow on from a successful trial of the machines for Welsh Water in 2010, which saw Panton McLeod deploy the equipment to clean and inspect water storage facilities in Rogerstone Grange, Pengarnddu, Whitbourne, Blaenavon, Tynywaun and Builth Wells.
The robotic team has also provided high profile cleaning and inspection work over the past year at strategic sites in the Scottish Water, Severn Trent Water and Bristol Water regions.
In addition to its ROV unit, Panton McLeod also uses another robot - a large-tracked cleaning robot called the VR600 - in cleaning projects in order to remove sediment and impurities from water storage facilities. The machine, which resembles the Pixar character Wall-E, allows this routine cleaning work to be done while the facilities are online, and can also be used to inspect the condition of water tanks, including checking the walls and pipework for any corrosion or damage.
Panton McLeod is the UK's leading water quality engineering company and provides high profile cleaning and inspection work across the UK, in addition to pipeline and repairs services for many of the country's major utility companies.