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Ford uses drones to conduct inspections in London factory

Dearborn, Mich.-based automaker Ford Motor Co. is using drones to perform crucial inspections at its Dagenham engine plant in London, CNBC reported Aug. 31, citing Pat Manning, a machine production manager for the EcoBlue diesel engine at the plant.

The drones have saved the company considerable time and resources as they allow the plant to continue operating during inspections, the report said. Before the drones were introduced to the facility, the entire plant had to be shut down at least once a year for plant managers to conduct risky and time-consuming inspections in hard-to-reach places around the plant, such as 120-foot gantries and the factory's roof.

According to the report, the device has cut the inspection time spent on each gantry to 12 minutes from 12 hours. It has also allowed a team of two to conduct inspections that previously needed around 24 people.

The drones can also monitor machines and power cable temperatures, and inspect robots, overhead conveyor belts, cranes, hoists and the roof for leaks.

Manning told the newswire that the drones provide the carmaker a more objective plant maintenance record, which can help prevent arguments over the diagnosis and possible solutions to problems.