Pipeline inspection techniques
May 23, 2007
Thorough surveys are essential for all pipeline infrastructure to avoid unforeseen problems, and there is a considerable range of techniques and methods for inspection and condition reporting that assist in catching major surprises before they happen.
The development of teleinspection technology equipment has opened up a new world for the maintenance, repair, replacement and construction of pipelines, allowing greater consultation ahead of any excavation work.
Teleinspection technology allows pipe inspection without any digging, allowing inspectors to save the unnecessary cost of excavation around a pipe which might still be in a robust and safe condition and not in need of replacement or even repair.
Robotic CCTV crawlers, pushrod portable systems, laser profiling and sonar profiling are just some of the inspection technology systems now being utilised during regular inspection of water and sewer mains. These systems allow for comprehensive information on the condition of the underground infrastructure to be collated, allowing a planned maintenance program to be developed.
CCTV is used in a variety of methods. The camera is placed in the pipeline and is either winched through or self propelled. Crawlers are electronically powered, with the power supply for the camera coming from a connection at the rear. The picture and control signals are transferred to a monitor control centre managed by an operator working to detect and determine what condition work or repairs are recommended.
Robotic crawlers first appeared in the 1950s and the 1990s saw the coming of the age of this equipment in Australia. A greater range of products and equipment now allows inspections to be completed in areas once deemed inaccessible, providing vision that could previously not be seen in small, large or restrictive locations.
Specialist robotic crawling tractor systems are now produced to inspect pipes ranging from 100 mm up to larger pipes in excess of 2 m in diameter.
Veolia Environmental Services Operations Manager Michael Kelly is particularly pleased with the results the Panoramo has delivered. “The Panoramo system is truly a remarkable advancement into the CCTV market - no question,” said Michael. “To be able to take a true 360 degree virtual reality tour of an underground asset from the comfort of an office is something that can never be matched in quality, speed or accuracy. We can’t wait to get the next one!”
The ability to detect and measure changes in pipe shape or bore clearance, be it due to deformation, siltation, corrosion or erosion, is difficult at the best of times, especially when using conventional CCTV camera systems.
Rigid pipes, such as vitrified clay, present less of a problem as these tend to crack or collapse rather than deform and the results are rather obvious. However, even in circumstances where deformation is obvious it can still be difficult to determine the exact extent of the deformation or if the deformation has got worse over time.
The sonar system was specifically designed for the inspection of submerged and semi-submerged pipelines. It uses high resolution/short range sonar and only works underwater. The system itself is capable of inspecting pipelines from 225 mm in diameter to conduits in excess of 5 m in diameter.
The head of the sonar, its transducer, looks sideways at right angles to the direction of the motion through the pipe, resulting in a cross sectional view of the pipe in real time.
This article was first published in Trenchless Australasia.
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