New Robotic Inspection Technology Helps ID Potentially Critical Situation

By Jeff Griffin, Senior Editor | May 2009 Vol. 64 No. 5

"Our observations," said Brousseau, "were that there does not appear to be any immediate danger of a major catastrophe. We have suggested to the city that the RedZone equipment be used intermittently to monitor the condition of the trunk sewer. These inspections will reveal if there are any changes in the integrity of the pipe structure, in effect providing advanced notice to the city if the problem is propagating."

Discovery of Coxwell trunk line problem and the importance of identifying the cause illustrates the benefits offered by the new wave of high quality inspection technology for large diameter pipes, said Brousseau. He also noted that difficult conditions affecting inspections of large sewer lines differentiate such work from the inspections of normal diameter pipes.

Effective inspection

Most large trunk sewers have not been inspected or only with smaller conventional camera systems.

"Large diameter trunk sewers are high value assets and their failure can result in catastrophic environmental damage," Brousseau emphasized. "But only recently has technology like the RedZone Robot been available to inspect them with minimal risk. As capabilities of this equipment become better known, more and more cities are embarking on programs to inspect their trunk sewers. Tools like robots with multiple sensors now are allowing full asset management based recommendations to be made for these critical sewers systems."

The primary lesson of the Coxwell Trunk Sewer Project, believes Brousseau, is that cities should be ramping up trunk sewer inspection programs.

"It is now possible to inspect trunk sewers with multiple sensors and know precisely their condition," he said. "It is better to learn about any structural deficiencies before they become failures in the future with immense repair costs. These inspections provide very true and accurate representations of general pipe conditions. Should deficiencies be identified, a timely, cost effective methods and rehabilitation plans can be implemented on the effective portion of the trunk sewer."