AT THE CUTTING EDGE: HOW REMOTE MOWERS ARE ALREADY MAKING A DIFFERENCE

Remote technology has already made a difference to water corporations in Victoria as they have experienced an increase in efficiency and safety while mowing sloped areas.

In particular, Goulburn Murray Water (GMW) experienced great success at Newlyn, Tullaroop and Cairn Curran dams. Remote mowing at all three sites was responsible for the first effective inspection of downstream batters in over 10 years, while contractors at Hume Dam now use remote mowing equipment  on all steep slopes.

GMW has experienced a number of benefits from the use of this technology. Cutting with remote mowers enables a safe way to view steep dam embankment and removes OH&S hazards which affect dam safety inspections, such as slips, trips and falls.

A uniform grass length also allows any defects along dam embankments to be more easily observed. These include animal burrows, seepage, cracks and undulations. A uniform depth of grass cut would also allow technology such as drones to give a more effect aerial surveillance of dam embankments.

Andrew Gillingham, Senior Storage Officer, Catchment Services at GMW observed that this new technology was a huge upgrade on existing methods: “The remote mowers can cover this ground much more efficiently and safely.  One of the many OHS benefits of using this machinery includes better traction and less disturbance to the surface of the embankments.”

Meanwhile, Dam Safety Manager at GMW David Jeffery agreed that the remote mowers aided them a huge amount. “An even depth of cut grass allows any embankment defects to be more readily observed, including undulations, cracks, seepage and animal burrows and the uniform depth of cut grass also allows other technology, such as drones, to provide a more effective aerial surveillance of dam embankments afterwards,” he added.

Melbourne Water have also experienced success with this technology, although not on the same level as GMW. After a demonstration by the North East Grass team, in which mowers tackled a 22-degree batter. The Melbourne Water waterways and land department (WLD) has committed to undertake steps to determine the economic viability of introducing the mowers into the business.