A new device being trialled by Melbourne Water is set to better manage over 400km of sewer mains.

Gerald FitzGibbon, Melbourne Water’s General Manager, Asset Management Services, said the management of concrete sewers has been a major challenge for the industry as a result of corrosion caused by hydrogen sulphide attacks.

“Melbourne Water currently uses CCTV technology to help us manage the hundreds of kilometres of sewerage mains that service the community across the city,” Mr FitzGibbon said.

“This technology has served us well for many years in terms of understanding the condition of the surface inside these large diameter pipes by using remotely operated video.

“However, hydrogen sulphide corrosion impacts the thickness of the pipe wall and the current CCTV technology does not have the capability to measure this thickness in order to help us predict when an asset might fail.

“As a result we have been looking at innovative new ways to monitor these assets so we can more accurately schedule maintenance work to improve service reliability and safety for our customers,” he said.

The search for more data about the level of corrosion and concrete pipe wall thickness led Melbourne Water towards intelligent devices that use radar, cameras, sensors and laser technologies to measure concrete pipe wall thickness and surrounding environmental conditions.

“The device can relay important information about pipe thickness, the location of steel reinforcements, internal pipe diameter, pH, temperature and humidity back to our asset management staff,” Mr FitzGibbon said.

“This cutting edge technology will help us go from reactively fixing problems once they appear to being able to predict potential failures and schedule maintenance work before they occur.

“This is expected to help us to minimise disruption to the community and provide a better level of service at a reduced cost by fixing potential problems before they impact on customers.

“The device will allow our asset engineers to more accurately predict the remaining service life of our assets and design rehabilitation works to extend it.

“Better information will help us improve our decision making about where and when we undertake works so Melbourne’s sewerage system can continue to provide its crucial service to the community.”

The first device is expected to be deployed for testing in August 2018.

“We hope this technology will result in increased safety and better outcomes for the community by changing the way we go about monitoring the condition of our assets,” Mr FitzGibbon said. 

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