With between 30 to 50 per cent of sewer lines globally exhibiting some type of infiltration and leaking, it’s no surprise that water efficiency programs have become a priority for water utilities. Sometimes it’s hard to know when a minor leak can cause a major problem, but the reality is, any leak is bad news and needs to be dealt with quickly.
In Australia, pipe infrastructure involves some 150,000km of water mains and 96,000km of sewers and sewage pumping mains. With a significant proportion exceeding or approaching the limits of their design life, there is an increasing awareness of the economics of renovating or maintaining this ageing infrastructure.
“It’s crucial that water utilities have a clear understanding of the current condition of pipes, so they can make more informed decisions regarding repair, replacement and rehabilitation. However, many tools currently available are labour-intensive, time-consuming and may be difficult to measure,” said Eduardo Santos, General Manager of UVS Trenchless Technology.
“A detailed evaluation and subsequent understanding of these challenges was the catalyst for research, development and manufacture of an efficient and easy-to-use electronic detection system for early identification of pipe leaks or infiltration.
“While UVS already specialises in pipe inspection with CCTV cameras, crawlers and other innovative technologies, discussions with industry clearly showed that new tools were necessary. There is definitely a need to improve detection of failures in glued joints, hairline cracks, pinpoint holes, leaks, voids or other imperfections in the pipe structure that will ultimately break down and cause leakage.
“The result is the SewerSerpent, an electronic leak detector which enables the location of leaks and infiltration of wastewater pipes using extra low electric voltage flow through the pipe wall,” said Mr Santos.
The SewerSerpent system introduces a more sophisticated level of engineering that provides a solution beyond cameras that will detect an issue if there is a non-visual problem. Even where pipes are fully relined they may appear perfect and clean, however, there can be imperfections in the lining material itself, which would not be seen by a camera but can be electronically detected by using SewerSerpent.
“An important application of the product is its ability to certificate relining works in pipes to give assurance to infrastructure owners that the integrity of the pipework is correct and sound.”
According to UVS Trenchless, apart from their ease of use and accuracy, one of the major benefits of the electronic detectors is that the software is located in a control box connected to the cable reel and scan head and immediately accessible and stored for sharing by USB. The number of scans that can be stored is only limited by the USB size and the control box is fully waterproof, meaning that users can keep working in rain and harsh conditions. The control box includes an integrated GPS so that all scans can be geo-referenced, making review and referencing of data to pipe locations easy.
“The commercialisation of this new technology means users will benefit from a tool that’s considerably simpler to use and more fail-safe than others that are reliant on cloud-based software,” said Mr Santos. “There are no ongoing fees required for operation of SewerSerpent – users have complete control of their own data and the ability to move, store and analyse it as required. The SewerSerpent series is designed to reduce user effort and the time taken to detect pipe defects. It’s a highly cost-effective solution to satisfy the needs of contractors or those responsible for early prioritisation of pipe replacement or remediation tasks or quality assurance.
“Users appreciate the system’s speed and quality of data collection, compact size, mobility and cost benefits including logistics and low risk of data loss,” Mr Santos said.
“With any cutting-edge technology, it makes a lot of sense to enter the leak/infiltration detection market with a hand-held portable unit which simplifies the process and reduces the cost for users. This is why the SewerSerpent 225 Push Rod unit will be the first of its type to be seen in the market.
“Simplicity of operation, low cost and a high level of portability were key aspects of designing this system that is operated by just five buttons – anyone can use it successfully, even with minimal training. The system comprises a ground stake, cable, cable reel, cable counter, data display and recording unit,” Mr Santos added.
While the SewerSerpent 225 Push Rod unit is designed for water utilities’ 100 to 225mm diameter pipes, SewerSerpent 100 and 600 units are expected to follow shortly. The SewerSerpent 100 is designed for the plumbing market that has a need to locate leaks in small pipes of less than 100mm, typically used in swimming pool installations and house drains. The SewerSerpent 600 Sewer Main Unit is suitable for pipeline inspections of between 150 to 600mm in diameter.
About UVS Trenchless
The company has recently become a recognised supplier in the specialised sub-sector of trenchless technology, supplying innovative products and services to the water distribution, water collection markets and general plumbing. For more information visit www.uvstrenchless.com.au.