How aerial surveys detect pipe leaks

APEM has developed unique aerial surveys designed specifically for leakage mapping for the water industry.

Our ‘leakage sensor’ can detect leaking pipes – below and above ground – over very large areas. Using aircraft mounted with state-of-the-art camera systems the surveys collect both high resolution multi-spectral images and thermal data.

Specialist software is then used to pinpoint the tell-tale signs of potential leaks using two specialist techniques. Water from leaking pipes can cause nearby vegetation to grow more vigorously and our specialist cameras are able to detect this. At the same time, we also gather thermal images that help to show the difference in temperature between wet ground and the surrounding land.

Infra-red image showing potential water pipe leak

Benefits of aerial surveys

This novel use of aerial surveys helps to locate pipe leaks and diffuse pollution more quickly and cheaply than alternative approaches. It also helps water companies to target the efforts of ground teams to where they are most needed and most cost-effective.

Aerial surveys can cover large, remote or inaccessible areas with very little disturbance to people or wildlife, without the need to secure permission from landowners to access their land. In addition, because aerial surveys cover large areas quickly they can capitalise on optimum weather windows.

The maps we produce can be held in GIS and a series of surveys shows change over time. The data generated by the surveys can be used for other projects and for health and safety assessments on subsequent ground visits.

thermal pipe survey

If you have any queries, please contact David Campbell, head of remote sensing.
Alternatively you can email us here. Or call 0161 442 8938.