A future innovation campus site was the focus of the UK drone community for an event looking at how cutting edge technology can be used across a range of industries.
Sellafield Ltd’s Engineering Centre of Excellence at Cleator Moor, Cumbria, hosted a national COMIT2drones (C2D), event earlier this month when representatives from a range of industries and SMEs shared ideas on opportunities to deploy the latest drone technology.
The centre is based at Leconfield Industrial Estate where iSH (Industrial Solutions Hub) plans to develop a programme of cross-industry collaboration and innovation which will lead to 700 new jobs.
Amanda Smith, UAV equipment programme lead for Sellafield Ltd, hosted the Power Up Sellafield event which attracted 30 representatives from across the UK, including drone specialists such Cyberhawk, Vantage UAV Group, COPTRZ and Herotech8, as well as industry representatives such as Jacobs, Kier and National Highways.
The event showcased Sellafield’s capabilities through its Remote Technologies Group, which includes UAVs, ROVs and Robotics.
Smith and her Sellafield team of highly-skilled equipment engineers/remote pilots flew more than 200 asset inspection flights in 2021 delivering in excess of £5m cost avoidance savings.
Most of the flights were at Sellafield. But leading the way in UAV innovation in the UK nuclear industry, Smith’s team has also carried out flights at other Nuclear Decommissioning Authority sites at Bradwell, Essex, and Sizewell in Suffolk. Sellafield’s ROV team have also carried out work at Dounreay in Caithness, Scotland.
At the Power Up Sellafield event held at Cleator Moor, Smith shared learnings with delegates by demonstrating her team’s expertise, the type of work they are carrying out, and the positive difference it is making in safety, time and money savings and improving productivity.
Dave Jones, Sellafield Ltd’s head of Operational Technology Group (OTG), and Kev Rishworth, Delivery Manager at Sellafield’s Engineering Centre of Excellence representing Engineering Development Solutions, also both gave talks to delegates about innovations across different parts of the business.
COMIT2drones attendees shared their own experiences and discussed opportunities to collaborate in the future.
Smith said afterwards: “I am elated with the way the event went. It was amazing to see our base in West Cumbria pulling in all these experts from all over the UK.
“What was great to see was how amazed they are at what we can deliver, both on Sellafield site and off site.
“The big advantage we have is that as well as being governed by the CAA (Civil Aviation Authority) we also have to meet the extra hurdles of the nuclear safety case. It means that if you can achieve something with drones at Sellafield you should be able to achieve it anywhere else.
“We achieve that with the support of our supply chain partners such as Global Drone Training, PAR Systems, and Forth.
“By working together in collaboration with the supply chain across multiple industries, and talking to members of the COMIT2drones community, we can help solve each other’s problems.”
COMIT2drones is the UK home for professional drone technology and services companies that operate in construction and infrastructure. Members are drawn from a wide variety of organisations and solutions providers.
Tony Shooter, chair of COMIT2drones , said: “The UAV Team at Sellafield Ltd delivered an outstanding event. Their skilful, structured and insightful portrait of Sellafield left no one in doubt that the team is truly a pioneer in the COMIT2drone community.
“The feedback from members has been fantastic with a real appreciation of the team’s achievements and commitment to setting the standards and embracing shared learning across our group.
“It was a great day at the Engineering Centre of Excellence. A venue and team that certainly lived up to its name.”
John Maddison, managing director of iSH which will have a campus at Leconfield as it looks to help organisations and businesses grow through collaboration across industry, SMEs, academia and the community, said: “It’s brilliant to see events such as this taking place at Leconfield and is why we are so excited about what can be achieved through iSH.
“It’s part of our ambition to enhance capabilities in robotics and artificial intelligence, engage SMEs with opportunities across a range of industries to help solve global challenges, and promote West Cumbria to the world.
“We are lucky to have a workforce with unique skills across the region and events like this show that building that capability is all achievable through people who are passionate about innovation and collaboration.”