FRENCH ALPS, FRANCE —
When we think of the French Alps, we think of beautiful villas, picturesque mountains, and decadent pleasures like chocolate, cheese and wine. But the Inuktun Europe (IE) team recently visited the area for a completely different endeavor. Responding to an invitation from EDF Energy, IE’s Technical Manager, Russell Fraser, and Business Development Manager, Julien Massé, travelled to an area near the Bournillon power plant in the French Alps to perform a penstock pipe inspection. Using the Versatrax 150™ system, they successfully demonstrated the crawler’s capabilities by driving the vehicle over a total distance of 160 metres, including maneuvering through a pipe branch at 100 metres, and climbing slippery slopes of up to 22 degrees.
When asked about the demonstration, Julien explained, “We were very happy to showcase our systems to companies in France and are grateful to EDF for giving us the opportunity to perform an on-site demonstration. Our VT150 performed well in a challenging environment where it is simply too dangerous for man access. It was an excellent demonstration of the use of robotic crawlers to remove the need for personnel access to confined spaces. Unfortunately, decades ago there were no standards for building this type of hydroelectric infrastructure; the modular and reconfigurable nature of Inuktun products makes them particularly well suited to these challenging applications.”
The demonstrations were arranged as part of the Hydromar project, a French local government initiative aimed at promoting innovative industries which will lead to job creation. EDF France is an official Hydromar partner and has launched a program to build an inventory of existing technologies able to explore subaquatic confined spaces. EDF holds a large number of hydro-electric assets (e.g. penstock pipes, dams, etc.), some of which have never been inspected.