Water quality engineering firm Panton McLeod has completed a critical maintenance project to ensure thousands of households and businesses in North West England continue to receive the freshest drinking water from their taps.
Appointed by United Utilities, the firm has been praised for its collaborative approach which drew upon a number of specialists contractors all working to strict deadlines to successfully complete the challenging and essential works at Scarth Hill Tower in Ormskirk without causing disruption to the local water supply.
Mark Clinton, United Utilities Construction Manager, said: â€œThis was a really challenging project for the Panton McLeod team, but they did a brilliant job, cleaning the tower and keeping our customers on tap at the same time.â€
The tower, a landmark resembling a sci-fi-esque flying saucer, is a crucial link in the local distribution network of pipelines and storage tanks, and therefore regular cleaning and repair works are essential, but due to the current demand on the system it was thought to be impossible to remove from supply.
After carrying out initial inspections using a remotely operated mini-submarine â€“ or ROV unit â€“ Panton McLeod identified that due to the internal structure of the 25 metre high tower initial plans to clean the storage system using its innovative VR600 robot while it was still online needed to be revised.
Mike Davies, Operations Manager at Panton McLeod said: â€œOur initial inspection showed that the design and access points prevented us from using the VR600 robot which allows us to clean water storage structures without causing disruption to customerâ€™s water supplies during projects.
â€œFacing this challenge we worked closely with United Utilities to develop a project plan to complete these difficult and essential works whilst protecting the customerâ€™s daily access to drinking water.
â€œSome of the key challenges included in this involved United Utilities installing new variable speed pumps at Bickerstaffe Water Treatment Works.
â€œOnce this planning had been completed the next major barrier to the works being carried out safely was access up to the roof of the tower for the personnel and equipment and then access into the tower whilst still ensuring that all confined space entry and escape provision was possible.â€
â€œAccess was provided by one of the largest scaffolds we have ever had to employâ€.
In order to perform cleaning the tower needed to be drained down first, which required a confined space entry team to install discharge pumps to empty the asset of water via a convoy of tankers to local Westhead and Bickerstaffe Water Treatment Works.
The works completed on the tower included providing safe access for United Utilities engineers to carry out a routine engineering inspection, thereafter the tank itself was cleaned with all of the waste waters being treated onsite before being transferred to Bickerstaffe Water Treatment Works.
The tank roof itself was then inspected and routine repairs completed to ensure the integrity of the roof joints.
Paul Henderson, Director at Panton McLeod, added: â€œâ€œScarth Hill Tower was another big challenge for the team as we had to alter our initial plans of using the VR600 robot due to the structure being difficult to access and then rely on other strengths and skills both within and outside of the business. Once we planned a revised approach, the rest was pretty straight forward and we are delighted with how we managed to complete the works on schedule and on budget.