Exploring new worlds – successful inspection of uncharted drainage network of hydro-dam

The challenge

During a 5-yearly safety review, issues appeared regarding the condition of the spillway under-drainage network of a High Potential Impact Classification hydro-dam in New Zealand. Traditional CCTV methods had – in the past – delivered sub-optimal inspection results.

In addition, CCTV had been incapable of inspecting the lateral drains accessed via the main access-drains. What’s more, obstruction within the access-drains meant reduced accessibility.

All in all, inspection engineers at AECOM were faced with a serious challenge when asked to carry out the inspection of Meridian Energy ’s Pukaki High Dam Gate 19 Spillway and Stilling Basin.

The solution

Tom Wooding, Engineering Geologist at AECOM: “We were lucky enough to be able to team up with Invert Robotics. It was obvious to us that a robotic platform would be far more fit-for-purpose than traditional CCTV methods and would provide us with the flexibility to complete our inspections.”

Peter Roberts, Sales Manager Asia Pacific at Invert Robotics: “We initially used one of our older robotic platforms to see if we could deliver on all our promises regarding its agility and inspection results. And we did! AECOM then asked us to make a bespoke version of our platform, so that it could be used to inspect even the most hard-to-access lateral drain openings.”

Invert’s robotic platform – boldly goes where no man has gone before

Wooding: “Rodger the Robot, as we call our bespoke robot, has delivered on everything. We have even been able to successfully carry out inspections of previously inaccessible areas of the drainage network.”

“We were particularly pleased with the fantastic on-site expertise of the Invert Robotics’ inspection team. Their support enabled us to fix issues on the fly.”

“The only drawback that we encountered was the size of the unit (which was occasionally too large to pass some obstructions). However, at times it proved to be helpful in providing the mass to clear other obstacles.”

Successful inspection programme

Roberts: “With legislation becoming ever more stringent, inspection of hydro assets is no longer a choice but a prerequisite. We’re extremely glad to be able to offer an inspection solution that delivers in all ways, and that paid itself back in literally minutes. It’s great to hear that AECOM is now going to use Rodger the Robot for the inspection of another dam.”

Wooding: “The Invert Robotics’ team has been instrumental in allowing us to complete a comprehensive inspection of our structure. The flexibility of the robotic platform, along with the can-do attitude of the inspection team has greatly contributed to the overall success of our inspection programme.”

Technical Information

  • Vessel type Drainage network of High Potential Impact Classification hydro-dam
  • Vessel size
  • Vessel material Vertical and horizontal piping
  • Robot platform Bespoke robot
  • NDT Visual Testing

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