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US utility swaps CCTV for Electro Scan’s technology

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World Trenchless,

Electro Scan Inc. (Electro Scan) has announced that a large US Southeastern utility has purchased and installed the company’s innovative Focused Electrode Leak Location (FELL) technology into one of its existing closed-circuit television (CCTV) pipe inspection trucks. This ‘plug-and-play’ FELL installation immediately transformed the company’s infiltration inspection programme with the ability to pinpoint exact locations of infiltration, not previously possible with CCTV cameras.

"The utility reached out to Electro Scan in July 2020, during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, and requested a FELL technology demonstration in their own system. Surveying existing pipe materials and recently installed Cured-In-Place Pipe (CIPP) liners, the resulting data convinced utility managers they had finally found an inspection approach that made sense," stated Mike App, Vice President, Electro Scan.

"The field demonstration offered a clear view of how powerful FELL data is for helping set rehabilitation priorities," continued App.

Facing significant unwanted infiltration in its gravity sewer collection network, and the serious consequences from overloading available wastewater treatment capacity, the utility had been frustrated for decades in using conventional inspection technologies, such as CCTV, Smoke Testing, and Dye Flood Testing, without meaningful results or success in reducing infiltration. Costly sewer lining programmes that relied on CCTV to certify water tightness were shown to be equally ineffective.

Electro Scan installed its FELL inspection equipment into the utility’s existing CCTV inspection trucks in late 2020, taking only six hours. Company staff then provided training and initial oversight to utility crew members, and within one day the utility was performing inspections with in-house personnel.

Utility crews could easily change from CCTV to FELL, and back again, in less than five minutes, without the need for any specialised tools or complicated procedures. Overnight, the new FELL capabilities completely changed how rehabilitation decisions were made.

With a significant amount of unlined Vitrified Clay Pipe (VCP) remaining in their system, the field demonstration remarkably showed that while there are some pipes contributing to excessive infiltration rates, many were not. In fact, results indicated that the ‘80/20’ rule was in full effect – where 80% of the infiltration problems originated from just 20% of the pipes; even from VCP lines that were 50 years old or more.

“We see this time and again at almost every utility, across the nation” offered Mike Condran, PE, Vice President and Southeast Regional Director, Electro Scan.

“Unambiguous and unbiased FELL data documents precisely where the worst pipe defects are located, and amazingly only a handful of those contribute the majority of infiltration,” Condran stated. “FELL data gives ‘X marks the spot’ clarity to owners, delivering convincing information to make proper risk-based decisions and reduce capital spending,” continued Condran.

Another significant issue for the utility was the ability to inspect large diameter interceptors, which normally had to be bypassed to complete traditional CCTV inspection. Since FELL assessment never requires cleaning or bypass pumping, the utility is now able to quickly assess conditions in their interceptors that had never before been inspected.

An essential part of the decision to invest in FELL technology was the fact that previous legacy pipe inspection programmes gave inconsistent and often contradictory results. Frustrated with the status quo for trying to control infiltration, utility managers knew they needed to find a more reliable and scientific approach.

In addition to the utility’s new capability to inspect its gravity collection lines, Electro Scan recently announced its ‘DELTA’ and 'TRIDENT' multi-sensor tethered probes, available to assess force main condition.

Several Electro Scan force main inspection projects are already scheduled this year from California to Florida, US.

Given the long road to economic recovery during the post-COVID pandemic, current capital budgets are being pushed to their limits. As a result, utility managers are relying on innovative technologies and strategies to deliver immediate financial benefits and capital savings where outcomes have the greatest overall benefit.

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