UK: Innovative opportunities missed due to cost-saving measures
The pressures imposed on the UK Utilities requiring cost cutting and providing opportunities for minimal investment tend to stifle opportunities for the introduction of innovative ideas. Whilst this may be beneficial in the short term there are always missed opportunities for improved standards or more radical cost savings in both the short and long term through the introduction of the most appropriate inventions...
July 30, 2008 -- The pressures imposed on the UK Utilities requiring cost cutting and providing opportunities for minimal investment tend to stifle opportunities for the introduction of innovative ideas. Whilst this may be beneficial in the short term there are always missed opportunities for improved standards or more radical cost savings in both the short and long term through the introduction of the most appropriate inventions.
However, all too often these opportunities are lost entirely, or at best their introduction takes far too long for the benefits to be effectively utilised.
These situations are clearly demonstrated by two unique innovations, Pipetrack 3D and Flusher, innovative inventions developed by Infotec, a specialist utility surveying company with more than 35 years experience of utility surveying and specialised work within the water and sewerage industry.
PipeTrack 3D the worlds first true 3D gyroscopic pipeline mapping system was launched two years ago. This revolutionary self contained surveying system enables fast, accurate mapping of any underground pipe, duct, sewer, or tunnel, without the need for personnel entry, or for any form of surface level mapping. These features offer a significant improvement in time and cost savings as well as reducing health and safety risks especially within small or high risk hazardous environments. PipeTrack 3D will work in any size of pipe from 50mm diameter, up to the largest man entry size culverts and is not limited to circular pipes. Additionally the system can work at any depth over considerably greater lengths than all previously existing technology without being affected by external factors. This high speed highly accurate system provides virtually an instantaneous output to either CAD or GIS upon the completion of each survey undertaken. The advantage in improving the accuracy of existing utility record drawings and the reduction in accidental damage during excavation works etc. will certainly prove to be significant. There will also be significant operational and engineering benefits, enabling engineers and designers to immediately identify defects in pipe alignment such as adverse gradients, high spots, or bellies etc.
In spite of all of these advantages the momentum of acceptance of PipeTrack 3D's new technology nationally is fairly slow even though Infotec is able to demonstrate the advanced outputs of the system from a significant number of previously completed projects.
A second recently launched innovation is the Infotec "Flusher," a unique sewer cleansing device that utilises the energy provided by the flow within a foul or surface water sewer or Highway Drain etc. Flusher is used to effectively clean and keep clean either entire sewerage networks or problem areas within those networks. It is anticipated that this technology could make a considerable positive impact to the reduction of both operational and capital expenditure as well as reducing the incidence of flooding and pollution resulting from hydraulically inadequate sewerage systems. Flusher operates 24 hrs a day 7 days a week without intervention, by automatically building a head of water within the sewer, this head being released intermittently to produce a flushing wave through the sewer which scours fat and silt deposits. By continually varying dry weather flow levels within Foul sewers, Flusher also effectively eliminates the subsequent build up of fats, oils, and greases, 'FOG', a major cause of sewer blockages and flooding today. Flusher offers huge environmental benefits, not least by reducing the overall carbon footprint of any utility by avoiding the use of heavy fuel inefficient and polluting high pressure jetting systems. Flusher does away with the need to waste valuable clean water supplies, and avoids the damage to pipes or larger structures that occur when using high pressure cleansing methods.
These innovations are particularly useful to the Water Industry and the Highways sectors, as they are under pressure from customers, politicians, the regulator and shareholders to reduce costs and eliminate flooding and pollution.
While under these pressures it is sometimes difficult for the particular utility companies to recognise and implement the benefits of innovative ideas and this would appear to the case for both PipeTrack 3D and the Flusher systems where acceptance of their undoubted benefits has been slow to materialise with the consequential continued use of labour intensive methods of sewer surveys and sewer cleansing. Undaunted by this reluctance Infotec continue to promote the benefits of both innovations while pursuing other new ideas that will reduce both short and long term costs and contribute to the improvement of our environment.