HRS Services and Urban Vision (the partnership organisation uniting Salford City Council, Capita and Galliford Try) have been working together to trial inspection via drones on bridges and retaining walls in the Salford area.

Urban Vision was formed to combine the skills of the public and private sectors in order to enhance Salford City Council services – with a particular focus on progressive, innovative techniques. The purpose of the trial was to carry out General Inspections to a number of structures, primarily bridges and retaining walls over water in the Salford area. Inspection using drones could then be compared against work carried out by conventional means and assessed in terms of effectiveness and cost.

Inspections were carried out via a combination of drone and on foot survey, with high quality still and video images collected for review and inclusion in the inspection report. Peripheral areas of the structure could be assessed by walking access on many structures with the drone picking up everything else. Typically, this would include areas over water including soffits and retaining walls, as well as raised areas of the structures such as piers and abutments.

Drones vs Traditional Inspections

Within the Highways sector, routine statutory inspections occur at set intervals; General Inspections every two years and Principle Inspections every six. Similarly, on Rail infrastructure Visual Examinations are undertaken every year with Detailed occurring at the same frequency as Principle Inspections on Highways. These Inspection regimes create significant volumes of cyclical work with considerable man power required.

Traditionally, such inspection are carried out by rope access or MEWP, which can require road closures and other traffic management to be put in place. By undertaking Drone Surveys it’s possible to reduce the need for these sorts of costly and disruptive measures.

Feedback on the trial

During the course of the inspections important new faults were picked up allowing speedy actions to be taken, either to investigate further or conduct remedial work. Feedback from these trials is allowing HRS Services to identify where drones fit into the inspection picture and where their limitations lie. It has already become clear that drones are a powerful and cost effective tool in the inspection arsenal.

Speak to us about Drone Surveys

Our highly qualified Inspection and Maintenance team is ready to assist you with statutory inspections and examinations on your Highways or Rail infrastructure projects. Email for more information.