Disinfecting robot to help UK find safe way back from lockdown

Updated: Jun 2, 2020

A ROBOT capable of rapidly disinfecting large areas has been demonstrated by a

world-first solutions business to help the UK navigate a safe route back from lockdown.

Forth Engineering in Cumbria is known for its innovations to solve complex industry

challenges all over the world in the nuclear, oil and gas, renewables and other sectors.

Now Forth managing director Mark Telford and his team have responded to the fight

against COVID-19, and the challenge of society finding a safe way back from lockdown,

by developing a remotely-operated disinfecting robot.

The first disinfecting robot to roll off its production line was demonstrated inside

Whitehaven Civic Hall on Friday (May 22).

The robot is able to be worked remotely, controlled from a safe distance, to disinfect any

area - inside or outside - to help the country safely emerge from lockdown.

“It can be used in offices, warehouses, transport hubs, schools, shopping complexes, or

on the streets, anywhere inside or outside, wherever it’s required,” said Mark.

“It can be deployed in any building or any area, before people return after lockdown to

make sure the space they are going back to is safe to use, and can be regularly re-used

to decontaminate areas whether that’s once a week or several times a day.

“We’ve put together our tracked robot, with a vapour cannon, camera and lights, and

developed the first one in a matter of weeks.

“It’s an amazing bit of kit. I took it to one of our sites and it disinfected 68,000 square

feet in just 20 minutes.”

Forth has a global reputation for its innovative solutions, saving lives by inventing robots

to carry out hazardous tasks, instead of putting people into dangerous areas.

Forth’s head of special projects Ben Telford and project engineer James Trythall were

brought out of furlough to work on new products in the fight against coronavirus.

The disinfecting robot has now gone into production at Forth’s Maryport site with

Sellafield Ltd having already placed an order.

Radio-controlled, wireless and tetherless, the disinfecting robot can perform fogging or


“It works in a similar way to a vapour cigarette in that it fires high pressure vapour which

will settle in every part of a designated area,” said Mark.

It has the ability to climb flights of stairs and can disinfect large areas in a matter of


The technology can also be adapted for a range of other scenarios, such as being fitted

with UV Light, or whatever application is required to fight coronavirus.

Mark said: “The way we like to work is that if people have a problem, we come up with

solutions. That’s our skill-set. That’s what we do.

“So if people are interested in this type of technology and think it could be adapted to

help them, we would ask them to get in touch, and that’s what we’ll get to work on.

“If someone wants it to climb up several flights of stairs, be controlled from a particularly

long distance, or be fitted with different applications, we can adapt it to suit their


“We are known across industry for responding quickly and coming up with quick, cost-

efficient solutions which are ready to go.

“Our unique skills and exacting standards have been developed over the last 20 years

of solving complex issues on the Sellafield site, with our proven products tried and

tested in the nuclear industry,” said Mark.

Sellafield Ltd has purchased two of Forth’s decontamination fogging cannons and

is testing the equipment at an off-site location in Cleator Moor.

Sellafield Ltd is looking to Forth’s solution-focused technology to help contribute to

the safe and confident return to work of its workforce at a range of locations.

Forth Engineering and Sellafield Ltd are sharing collective learning from the

technology among the specialist engineering and remote handling community to

develop innovative industry-leading solutions.

Forth’s recent projects include working to develop a world-first Friction Stir Welding

Robotic Crawler (FSWbot) for internal repair and refurbishment of pipelines which can

be used by a range of industries without having to stop production.

It has also recently worked with partners on developing the pioneering Hullguard system

of protecting floating offshore installations from corrosion without using divers which has

been successfully deployed for the first time in the UK North Sea.

Forth is bucking the lockdown trend by expanding its offices with a £150,000 investment

and actively recruiting for six roles - four mechanical/electrical engineers and two design

engineers. It employs 54 people across Cumbria in Maryport, Barrow and Cleator Moor.


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