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IRIS GROUP SIGNS MAJOR AGREEMENT FOR DRONE OPERATIONS WITH NORWEGIAN RAILWAYS

27th March 2017 News Editor

Camberley, UK – The Norwegian Governments’ Agency for Railroad Services – Jernbaneverket Now Bane NOR) – has signed nationwide framework agreements for drone services on 8 December 2016.

The Norwegian article can be found at:

http://www.jernbaneverket.no/Nyheter/Nyhetsarkiv/2016/storavtale-om-droneflyging/

The English translation of the Press Release is as follows:

The mapping and observation of avalanches, landslides or flooding is the most important of several areas where this new technology can be used effectively. Climate change makes the likelihood of such events ever more likely. If something happens, fast and accurate mapping of the incident is a key factor to getting the railway opened to traffic again, says contract advisor Knut Rusti-Jørgensen, from the Supply Division, which has been responsible for the procurement.

Faster, safer, less expensive

Today, we mostly rely on helicopters to make observations of landslides and high risk areas, and possibly one must enter the area on foot as well. We expect that it will be faster, safer and cheaper to make observations using such remote-controlled, unmanned aircraft, he said.

We also envisage that the drones have many applications in the prevention of such incidents. Plans include the mapping of vulnerable and hard to reach areas, as well as measurements of snow, terrain movements and much more.

Furthermore, this can also be a tool for maintenance monitoring and inspection of inaccessible infrastructure, e.g. walls, bridges, snow-shelters and platforms. Filming and documentation of major new development projects is another relevant application, says Rusti-Jørgensen.

Eight-hour response

Contracts for the six geographical areas corresponding to the six infrastructure areas in the Jernbaneverket were awarded. The contract for Area North was won by the firm Total Traffic Help in Mosjoen, while IRIS Group Nordic Bergen won the Region West. For the four remaining areas, a contract with the company Nordic Unmanned based in Sandnes was awarded.

The agreement states that companies should be deployed to an incident and be in place in eight hours or less. In addition to video and still images of high quality, infra red and termal imaging photography and terrain models analysis can be providied, highlighted Rusti-Jørgensen. The agreements include a contingency allowance, as well as hourly rates for current services. It’s hard to say how much usage there is going to be, but it is likely that the volume will increase gradually as the various application possibilities are better known in the Organizational structure, he said.

Unknown market

Work on this procurement has also been a bit unusual and challenging, given that this was a market that we did not have a complete overview on. We therefore chose to make use of so-called innovative procurement methods, where we presented our needs and invited the market to propose solutions, he continued, adding that the competition was conducted in collaboration with the national programme for supplier development.

First we had a dialogue conference with everyone and then subsequent one-to-one conversations with those vendors who were interested, before providers delivered solutions and quotations. Initially, around 60 companies showed interest, and eventually we got 17 offers. I am very satisfied with how this process worked, says Rusti-Jørgensen.

The contracts were signed by: Neil Hunter, IRIS Group Nordic; Knut R Wiig, Nordic Unmanned; Tobias V. Sivertsen; Total Traffic Service and Contracts Manager Terje Holen Jernbaneverket.