Snowy Hydro is again trialling the use of unmanned submersible vehicles to monitor the condition of hard to access Scheme assets.
While the Snowy Scheme is one of the civil engineering wonders of the modern world, many of its assets are difficult to reach due to the Snowy Mountains terrain and the challenges associated with the sheer volume of water flowing through the Scheme.
With the help of Perth-based company Synaya, the Civil Engineering and Dam Safety team are using a Mini Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) to conduct inspections of some of our hard to access assets, such as the Guthega Surge Tank and Island Bend intake structure.
The ROV is a small, submersible vehicle operated from the surface of the water via a tether. Equipped with miniature high-resolution cameras, lights and video recording equipment, they can be used to assess the condition of underwater civil assets. The information they collect determines future inspection frequencies, maintenance requirements and accurate scoping of projects.
The Mini-ROV, a Seabotix LVB150 weighing approximately 12 kilograms, was used as part of a successful trial where a variety of tests were performed to assess its manoeuvrability, visibility and access. Results showed that these observation vehicles reduce the safety risk to staff by eliminating the need for someone to physically enter tunnels for inspections, reduce the environmental impact associated with dewatering assets and they also reduce the need for extensive outage times.
It also provides access to extensive visual data, which can be referenced in the future to more accurately assess what stage of the asset’s lifecycle it’s in.
Using technology of this kind is not new for Snowy Hydro; in 2013, we used a larger unmanned underwater vehicle to inspect multiple tunnels within the Scheme for maintenance. We were awarded an Australian Business Award for Innovation and also broke a world record for the longest, unmanned underwater tunnel inspection. We have also trialled the use of unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones, to inspect our assets from the air.
In future, this unmanned technology will continue to be used to inspect difficult to access assets of the Scheme ensuring the safety of our people and keeping our assets in peak condition.