UK – Maintenance teams at Ford's Dagenham Engine Plant are now using camera drones to inspect the hard-to-reach parts of the facility.

Previously, access to areas such as high-rise gantries, pipework and roof areas required automated extendable platforms and scaffolding to assess the 40-metre-long gantries that support the plant’s heavy machinery. It could take the team up to 12 hours to complete the task.

Now, taking the controls of the drones, equipped with GoPro cameras, the maintenance team can cover each area in 12 minutes. Pat Manning, machining manager at Ford Dagenham Engine Plant said: "We used have to scale heights of up to 50 metres 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.”

The time saved along with the easier, safer means of access allows the team at Dagenham can carry out inspections more frequently. Ford is now evaluating how the drone technology can be applied more widely.