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CCTV survey services – matching technology with skills and know-how

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CCTV pipe and tank survey services have become well established in both the industrial and utility sectors in Ireland.

Asset owners and managers appreciate the value of carrying out remote CCTV surveys on pipe and tank systems, whether buried underground or developed as part of production systems above ground.

Yet CCTV survey technology is developing fast. New digital systems, and the opportunities to integrate data, for example from CCTV surveys and GPS surveys, have significant potential.

AQS Environmental Solutions aims to realise that potential for its customers. The company, part of Lanes Group plc, is using the very latest survey techniques to help customers manage pipe and tank assets more efficiently, cost effectively and safely.

CCTV surveys – key to quality maintenance

Gary Pollard, AQS’s CCTV Survey Specialist, says: “CCTV surveys are fundamental to effective management of pipe and tank assets. Long gone are the days when out of sight could be out of mind.

“Many years ago, owners of drainage assets might have waited until things went wrong before carrying out maintenance. That’s increasingly not the case now, which has brought CCTV surveying pipe diagnostic systems to the fore.

“Better regulatory control, a drive to improve quality standards within the utility industry and customer demand have all driven the need for better CCTV survey technology and methodologies.

“Here at AQS, we’re always seen ourselves at the forefront of that change. We want to offer our customers a combination of the best CCTV survey technology and the best analytical expertise. Only then will they get the most value out of their asset maintenance strategy.”

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Getting eyes in the pipe

CCTV surveys are fundamentally concerned with gaining access to pipe and tank assets that are both difficult and hazardous to reach in any other way.

Drainage pipes and tanks may be buried many metres underground. Industrial pipe and tank systems are often associated with continuous production processes, with pipes built into machinery and equipment that may be hard to reach in confined spaces.

In both cases, getting personnel into such confined spaces is often either impossible or hazardous, due to the potential presence of risks, including toxic gases or substances, plus trap and fall risks.

Alternative means of access, such as excavations, or dismantling production equipment is often impracticable, too expensive, too time-consuming, or all three.

AQS’s CCTV survey service overcomes these challenges by deploying a range of mini video cameras into pipe and tank systems, to record HD quality video footage, and capture other analytical data.

Push rod to robot – survey cameras for all needs

Two types of CCTV survey cameras can be used.

Push rod CCTV survey cameras: these are mini cameras attached to the end of a flexible rod that can be guided into pipe systems. They are used on the smallest diameter pipes, from 100mm to 150mm.

Robotic crawler CCTV survey cameras: these are cameras mounted on electric wheeled crawler units. They have articulated heads that can be controlled by the operator to view and focus in on points of interest in pipes and tanks.

Robotic crawler cameras can be guided up to 300 metres into pipe systems, and are used for surveying pipes and culverts that can be over three metres in diameter, as well as tanks.

Video footage from both types of camera systems is then used to support an analytical report detailing the findings from the CCTV survey, including recommending remedial work that may be needed.

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CCTV surveys deliver hard facts and assurance

Carrying out CCTV surveys have become essential for gathering the data needed to manage modern drainage, utility and industrial pipe and tank assets. Key benefits of CCTV surveys include:

  • Identifying the cause of system problems. If evidence indicates that pipes and tanks are not functioning optimally, CCTV surveys are a fast, effective way to assess what is going wrong, and what remedial action is needed.
  • Planning maintenance priorities. CCTV surveys are essential for planned preventative maintenance programmes (PPM) for pipework and tank systems. They support the setting of maintenance priorities and the best use of maintenance budgets.
  • Supporting commercial decision-making. CCTV surveys are now a regular element of pre-adoption asset condition checks during construction or refurbishment of many structures, including buildings, roads and factories.
  • Investment decision-making. Investors are increasingly concerned to ensure there are no hidden issues relating to the assets they are buying or investing in. CCTV surveys provide evidence that gives assurances over hidden or hard-to-reach assets, and so support informed decision-making for capital expenditure projects.
  • Reducing maintenance costs. The no-dig remote access capabilities of CCTV survey technology means often it can be deployed faster and less expensively than other maintenance or repair methodologies.
  • Improving safety and sustainability. The same remote access capability of CCTV survey equipment avoids the need for confined space entry by a team of personnel into high-risk environments. As a remote-access, low-impact intervention, CCTV surveying is a sustainable approach to asset maintenance.

CCTV surveying in high-risk environments

Drainage pipes and sewers, as well as production pipe and tank systems, often have heightened risks of explosion, caused by a build-up of volatile gases.

Where this is the case, only machinery and tools that are intrinsically-safe – or EX-rated – can be used. This is equipment designed to minimise the risk of generating a source of ignition, such as a spark.

AQS has a new mainline CCTV survey unit fitted with EX-rated survey cameras. Sectors the equipment can be deployed in include power generation, oil and gas installation maintenance and landfill site maintenance.

EX-rated CCTV survey systems are also needed to support the carrying out of hydrostatic and air testing in pharmaceutical production facilities.

It can also be combined with AQS’s advanced ADR suction and jetting equipment to provide an integrated survey, cleaning and waste disposal service that sets the highest safety and environmental control standards in Ireland.

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Adding value with GPS surveying capability

GPS surveying is an increasingly important tool for pipe, manhole and asset management. Asset owners want to know where their assets are, and how they connect together, as well as their condition.

Combining CCTV asset condition surveys with GPS surveying gives asset owners powerful advantages:

  • They can plan the most effective maintenance regime.
  • They can calculate asset values and predict how they will change over time.
  • They can carry out more complete and accurate risk assessments.
  • They can also make more robust investment decisions.

AQS can support this process because, as well as having a CCTV survey service, it has an in-house GPS surveying service, as well as an in-house AutoCAD drawing service.

Gary Pollard explains: “We have recognised the growing importance of GPS surveying for some time. There is a move in the utility industry towards creating a GPS-enabled asset database.

“We can now offer Total Station surveys of pipe, manhole and tank systems alongside CCTV surveys. We use the same reference system for both surveys, so the data can be precisely matched, and used in conjunction with each other.”

CCTV survey skills and experience customers trust

CCTV survey technology is only as good as the people who use it. The ability to interpret data and give customers the best advice is a key element of the added value service AQS delivers.

Effective training is the starting point. All CCTV survey engineers are OS19X-certified (Pipe Sewer Condition Classification). They also have full manual handling, safe pass and confined space entry certification, and pipe repair installation training, so they can co-ordinate and carry out remedial work identified by CCTV surveys.

The front-line teams are supported by a highly-experienced and skilled technical and management team, which works closely with clients to interpret data and help devise action plans based on survey results.

Gary Pollard says: “We do not see ourselves as having a CCTV survey service, and a GPS surveying service, added to a pipe and tank cleaning and repair service. With waste management added on.

“We offer an integrated end-to-end solution, defined by our technology, our expertise and our mindset, which is always to find the best solutions. It is definitely one of the things that our customers value most.”

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