When it Comes to Ecology, There is No Room for Human Error

Currently, geomembrane leak detections in reservoirs, pools, and even toxic lagoons are still performed manually by specially trained technicians.

While experts and technicians are a valuable asset to any enterprise, in the end we are all human, which also means that we are all prone to mistakes when working on boring, repetitive and extremely detail-oriented tasks.

But what exactly are the issues with relying on trained technicians for manual leak detection?

For starters, there are three types of human error:

  • Slips and lapses are natural interruptions of attention or protocol.
    • Even the most experienced technician can miss something, due to overwork, distractions, or a shift of focus. This type of error is easy for people to imagine, since almost every one of us has walked into a room before, and immediately forgot why we entered.

    • In an industrial setting, this may include not noticing malfunctions or leaks because of momentary distractions, tiredness, time pressure, or day-dreaming.

    • The main thing to remember is that this is a normal occurrence, and nobody is immune to this! It’s completely natural to have slips and lapses, and even the most experienced and practiced individuals are susceptible. In fact the more an activity becomes routine, the more slips and lapses are likely to occur.

    • We can all agree that looking for leaks manually isn’t exactly fun. After a certain amount of time, even well-trained technicians get burned out. You can’t realistically expect technicians to look for leaks 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for years. Everyone needs rest.
  • Mistakes are decisions that are made that later turned out to be incorrect.

    • In an industrial setting, standards and best-practices may change very quickly. And if employees or managers are set in their ways, it becomes challenging (not to mention expensive) to re-train them.

    • After cancer and heart disease, iatrogenics (mistakes by doctors) are the third most common cause of death in many countries. If we cannot fully trust experts with our own lives, can we really trust them with our plants and water?

  • Violations – deliberate deviations from rules for safe operation of equipment. Violations are the worst of all mistakes, because they are usually done on purpose either through laziness or malice.

    • Malicious technicians may ignore safety protocols to save time.

    • They may sell data to competitors or foreign entities.

    • They could ignore safety issues to avoid extra work.

    • They may do it out of spite because they feel underpaid.

    • They could ignore protocol because they “have a better way of doing it.”

To make matters even worse, the inefficiency of using human labor also results in skyrocketing recurring costs and exposes entire industries to privacy violations as well potential fines from regulators.

These are of course the worst case scenarios – but are you willing to take that risk?

It’s time to automate geomembrane leak detection – not only for the sake of the environment and the water we drink, but also your company’s bottom line:

  • Robots never sleep or get bored of repetitive tasks.

  • Robots are many orders of magnitude more precise than humans.

  • Robots are cheaper than new hires.
  • Robots will never leak your data to 3rd parties.

  • ELISTECH robots and aquatic drones require zero or only a single technician per site, and can be monitored remotely with a full verifiable record of every single leak.

Interested to learn more?


Zuzana Gregorová

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