Robot technology showcase for Bristol Water

Panton McLeod Blog

Robot technology showcase for Bristol Water

Panton McLeod Blog

Panton McLeod's underwater team demonstion in BristolForward-thinking Bristol Water has been testing a pair of innovative underwater cleaning robots to see whether they can be used to ensure customers continue to receive the purest supplies at the tap.

The company has been working together with independent Scottish firm and Water Quality Engineers Panton McLeod to see if the machines – which are used to inspect and clean service reservoirs across the UK – could be deployed across the Bristol region.

The robots, known as the VR600 and ROV units, are used exclusively by Panton McLeod to inspect and clean underground water storage tanks while they are live and online – meaning that they do not need to be drained and customers experience no disruption to their supplies.

The firm already uses the machines when undertaking cleaning and inspection work for some of the biggest water companies in the British Isles, including Severn Trent Water and Scottish Water.


In a recent test, Bristol Water invited Panton McLeod to carry out a demonstration of the machines at the Timsbury Reservoir to show how they could be used in water storage facilities across the region.

The facility was full during the test but was not online, as the company wanted to confirm that the technology did not pose any danger to the quality of drinking water being stored in the container.

Paul Henderson, operations director at Panton McLeod, said: “We have not completed any work with Bristol Water for more than a decade, so we were delighted to take part in the test and show them what our robots can do.

“They are the latest state-of-the-art machines and play a vital role in the work we carry out for major water companies across the UK. Because we meticulously clean and disinfect them before they are put into service reservoirs, we are able to operate them while the tanks are still active and in use without posing any risk to the quality of the stored water – which makes them a cheap, efficient and environmentally-friendly way of performing this kind of routine cleaning and inspection work.

“We were delighted with how the demonstration went and we now look forward to working with Bristol Water again in the future and showing them a proper ‘live’ test of our equipment with an active tank.”


Due to the location of the access hatch at the tank, Panton McLeod was forced to showcase another new piece of technology during the demonstration. The firm utilised a special A-frame and electric hoist system to lower the machines into the water tank safely, as there was not enough space to use their standard tripod and winch system.

This was the first time Panton McLeod have used the electric hoist with the VR600, and the firm is now planning to deploy the equipment in future cleaning work across the UK.

The demonstration is the first piece of work that Panton McLeod has performed for Bristol Water for more than a decade. It follows a number of high profile cleaning and inspection jobs in recent months with some of the biggest water companies in the UK.

Panton McLeod, which has offices in the Scottish Borders, Nottingham and the United States, is one of the best-known names in the water industry, working with the biggest companies on the inspection, cleaning and repair of drinking water structures.


The firm’s VR600 robot is a large-tracked machine that is manoeuvred along the floor of a service reservoir and cleans away any sediment or impurities in the water. It can also be used to inspect the condition of the water tanks, including checking the walls and pipework for corrosion or damage.

The ROV unit is a smaller robot that can be manoeuvred like a submarine through the water in a service reservoir. It is used to inspect the interior of the tank and check for damage or leaks.

Both machines remotely operated and fitted with camera and lighting equipment, which allows staff controlling the sub to assess the interior of the tanks. They are also used solely within clean potable water environments and meticulously cleaned and disinfected prior to every use to ensure they can be safely used in the public water supply, and Panton McLeod conducts rigorous tests before and after each inspection.