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Defect-detecting drones to be piloted at PRP’s Wembley Park scheme

Prp wembley
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Contractor John Sisk and Son is to use a fleet of drones to carry out quality checks on the external structure of PRP-designed tower schemes at Wembley Park

The builder said it planned to trial them on two developments at Quintain’s £2 billion Wembley Park: the £190 million 743-flat E03 Canada Court; and E05 Quebec, a 458-home project ranging in height from 10 to 21 storeys.

Speaking to the AJ’s sister title Construction News at the Autodesk University conference in Las Vegas, Sisk project manager Darragh Nunan said the drones would remove the need to put up scaffolding for workers to examine the external panels of the structure.

’This is a trial we will be doing for E05. We could have a drone fly up there, check the panel for any damage and then come back down.

’It would remove the need to erect a scaffold up the 24 storeys of the building or have suspended cradles to perform the checks.’

The contractor currently has a fleet of six drones, which cost about £500 each.

Sisk BIM engineer David Vater said he would soon be taking his test to obtain a licence to fly the drones. ’It’s similar to flying [an aircraft] – you need to pass a theory test to make sure you understand all the air laws, and then you have a practical test.

‘When you fly a drone, you have to alert the owner of the site and whoever owns the air space above you, and then clear the entire site because no one’s allowed underneath it.’

Vater said that the Heathrow flight path would be the closest airspace in the case of Wembley Park.

Nunan also revealed that Sisk’s Wembley Park sites have been regularly targeted by urban explorers. The whole development is now covered by an injunction, obtained by Quintain in December 2018.

He said: ’There were guys attempting to climb cranes. We had a few people who would be at the hoardings trying to break in, so we stepped up all our safety measures and security. Since the injunction, the situation seems to be better.’

PRP was novated to Sisk on the award of the design and build contract for the huge job, having been reserved for the scheme in 2017. 

Earlier this year Foster + Partners was shortlisted for the AJ100 Best Use of Technology award for its prototype drone-based robo-snagger.

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