Ford’s state-of-the-art engine plant in Dagenham has emerged as the driving force behind the automaker’s global approach to UAV deployment within its factories, Commercial Drone Professional can reveal.
In just a few short months, the Essex site has realised huge savings in time and money from using commercial drones to inspect machinery and structures that would previously have required staff to work at height.
As well as eliminating safety risks, production gantries that would have taken a full day to be inspected by a maintenance worker now take just 12 minutes by drone.
The speed of progress has led to other Ford locations replicating its actions, with all European plants either using drones or placing orders for them.
And all are following Dagenham’s lead in terms of protocol, explained machine production manager, Pat Manning, who has spearheaded the project.
“We have global teams that each plant feeds into and I am working with the Global Maintenance Operating System team to introduce it into America at the moment. The European team has launched it in all plants around Europe, the Global Safety Team is now on board with it and they are now recommending that we use drones for working at height.”
The value of drones to the inspection process was recently presented at director level to demonstrate the opportunities it provides.
“Within Ford we have never done this within manufacturing — we have used drones for various applications outside of buildings but we have never done it under the roof with machines running,” said Mr Manning.