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Robotic Pressure Washing of Large Penstocks – Snowy Hydro Case Study

A Unique Project/Challenge

The Snowy Hydro Project was a unique project for BlastOne. The Tumut-2 power station is a high-profile site hosting many press conferences throughout the year, including updates on the Snowy 2.0 project. It came to the attention of Snowy Management that the pipes were becoming a dirty eye-sore to this beautiful national landmark. So,  Snowy contacted BlastOne for a solution to overcome this problem.


Snowy previously attempted the enormous task of cleaning the penstocks, but other robotic cleaning equipment proved to be insufficient and unsuccessful. It was a massive cleaning challenge because the penstocks were nearly 6 meters in diameter, ran about 500 meters long down a steep slope, and there were 6 of them. The tops of the pipes were over 6 meters off the ground, covered in organic growth, making it terribly slippery and hazardous for personnel. Scaffolding would have been required and regularly repositioned to reach areas of the pipes.  It was also Alpine Park, so it was an environmentally sensitive area.

Penstocks before picture
Snowy Hydro After picture

M7 VertiDrive Cleaning Robot

Snowy contacted BlastOne for alternative cleaning solutions. We hosted Snowy at a Technology Day at our BlastOne Adelaide facility where we showcased our recommended VertiDrive M7 Robotic cleaning system. This equipment was the ideal solution for the project due to its high productivity and semi-automated remote controls. BlastOne’s mission is to keep the operator out of harm’s way, and the innovation of Robotic cleaning equipment allows us to do just that.

After Tech Day, we followed with live trials onsite with Snowy using the M7 to remove the organic growth from the external of the penstocks. The production rates achieved with the VertiDrive would have taken about 4 or 5 personnel working by hand to keep up with one robot.

We designed 2 customized VertiDrive Trailers to centralize them onsite and to aid in site mobility. The trailers were designed and developed by our fabrication team in Adelaide and driven 12 hours from Adelaide in South Australia to Snowy Hydro in New South Wales.

Snowy Hydro Consulting Picture
Snowy Hydro Consulting Picture

We had two VertiDrive Robotic Cleaning machines operating onsite. And they were achieving more than 1,000 square meters (10,764 ft2) per day in production. We also had another VertiDrive on stand-by so that there wouldn’t be any downtime. Overall, more than 300 hours of BlastOne resources ensured the water quality challenges and project deadlines were addressed.

Offering Technical Support throughout our projects is part of our brand promise.  We have nearly 50 years of industry expertise which we want to share with our customers to help them achieve success.

We’re happy to say, the contractor completed the project in line with their requested time frame and on budget.

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