It's no secret that pipeline inspections aren't the cleanest jobs in the world. Nor are they the safest. Pipe inspectors often work in less-than-pleasant conditions, with dark, hot or constricted workspaces. Occasionally, pipes may even be too narrow to be inspected manually. Thankfully, modern tools and robotic technologies are available to make these jobs drastically faster and more efficient.
Pipe crawler inspection robots (pipe crawlers) are small, battery-operated robots that travel inside a pipeline, while the human inspector controls from outside. These robots utilize closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras to provide the pilot with live video footage. This footage is used to navigate the pipe, as well as record or snap images of points of interest during inspections. Additionally, pipe crawlers can be integrated with reporting softwares to instantaneously produce detailed reports. By offering a ready-to-deploy portable inspection system, pipe crawlers drastically streamline the sewage line inspection process.
Pipeline failures can lead to public health and environmental disasters, making proactive inspections an invaluable tool for independent companies and municipalities alike. High end pipe crawlers are fully submersible and easy to control, built to travel deep into pipelines of various dimensions. With models capable of inspecting as small as 6” diameter pipes, crawlers allow for teams to navigate pipelines far beyond the capabilities of a manual inspection.
Traditionally, inspecting a pipeline required someone to physically crawl into the pipe to detect the damage. Alternatively, inspections could require excavation to allow for direct access to the pipeline. This manual inspection process can be dangerous, expensive. untimely, and produce subjective results. Let's explore a few benefits of pipe crawlers and why it's wise to invest in a remotely operated pipe inspection system for your team.
A recent study followed millions of miles of pipeline in the United States for nearly nine years. During this time, more than 5,500 total pipeline-related incidents occurred. In addition, there were around 600 injuries and more than 125 fatalities. With more than 800 fires and almost 300 explosions, the study revealed the always-present dangers that pipe inspectors face daily.
The innovation of pipe crawlers was a response to the various threats pipe inspectors face on the job. Crawlers are durable and robust, capable of performing the most tedious aspects of the job across diverse terrains. Maintaining their position topside, the risk of an accident for operators is dramatically reduced. Pipe inspection robots make every inspection safer by diving headfirst into conditions that could otherwise be perilous for human employees.
The remotely controlled CCTV camera captures valuable visual data, so human workers only need to enter the pipe to apply the fix after the robot pinpoints the problem. As with any other dangerous occupation, spending less time inside the danger zone minimizes the risk to inspectors. As a result, pipe crawlers allow for human employees to spend as little time inside the pipe as possible.
It is crucial that professional pipe crawling equipment be able to integrate with dedicated inspection software. NASSCO’s PACP certification provides municipalities and professionals with a straightforward, standardized way to document sewer conditions and defects. Prior to the development of PACP, the documentation of a pipe’s condition relied heavily on subjective data provided by the operator.
One of the main goals of an inspection is to evaluate structural integrity and determine required resource allocation. Subjective data makes accurate decisions difficult. PACP ensures that all operators rely on the same standardized defect coding system, making it easier to objectively compare inspections. This system-wide risk assessment allows teams to determine likelihood of failure and consequence of failure to optimize their budgets.
In addition to creating a consistent, standardized system for inspectors to use, PACP collects data in a format that is conducive to computer processing. This allows a pipe’s condition to be tracked over time and easily compared to other assets.
Every mission is quicker with the proper intel. By pinpointing the location of a potential issue, the team knows exactly where to start working. This accuracy saves human inspectors from spending extra time investigating or navigating to the issue.
Eliminate the need for costly and time-consuming excavation whenever a compromised pipeline is too narrow for manual inspection. Pipe crawlers help identify problems inside the pipe, adapting to fit a range of diameters and conditions. Rather than replacing large segments of defective pipelines, a crawler can quickly locate the problem and diagnose the required repairs with precise visual data.
Pipe Trekker’s crawlers are designed to be modular, featuring plug-and-play technology that helps them accommodate a full line of pipe crawler add-on products, including:
- Pneumatic Wheel kits
- Carbide grit wheels
- Robotic elevating arm
- Rear-facing cameras
- Spacer kits
These configurations allow for adept control across multiple terrains and pipe dimensions. For more information surrounding Pipe Trekker’s product lineup, check out our comprehensive article on considerations for choosing a pipe crawler.
Learn more about how pipe crawlers can assist with your inspection applications!
Pipe Trekker offers fully portable pipe crawler systems that are the ideal tool for sewer and stormwater pipe inspections. Below are some of the most frequently asked questions about our pipe crawler systems.
Our crawlers are battery-operated with a completely portable system design. On a 1.5 hour battery charge, the lithium-ion batteries are rated for at least 1,000 charges and can keep our pipe inspection robots powered for up to eight hours.
Integration with a CCTV truck system is also available depending on user preference. The A-200 is built with a hybrid power option. If operators need even longer days out of their systems, they can keep them running indefinitely by running direct power through a powered reel.
Pipe Trekker pipe crawlers are fully waterproof and can travel to a depth of 164 feet underwater. The use of magnetically coupled drives means that the wheel assembly has an opposing magnet to the drive assembly. This locks into place as a water tight assembly without the need to pressurize the crawler (otherwise known as “gas” it or fill it with nitrogen) to maintain its waterproof integrity.
Pipe Trekker crawlers are equipped with a Full HD 1080p pan/tilt/zoom camera head. The camera features an impressive 10x Optical 120x digital zoom for getting a crystal clear picture of cracks and pits. The 360 degree pan and 270 degree tilt allows the operator to point the high definition camera wherever you need to verify its condition.
There are several NASSCO certified software options that are used to document PACP inspections. Pipe Trekker is proud to offer straightforward WinCan and POSM software compatibility. Integration is also available with GraniteNet, ITPipes,and CTSpec among others.
The DT320 can fit into as small as a lined or slightly deformed 6" (150mm) pipe and is able to center its camera in up to 12" (300mm) diameter pipes. The A-200 or DT340 is ideal for 8" (200mm) and larger pipes. In its smallest configuration, it can fit into lined or slightly deformed 8" (200mm) pipes. With the modular robotic elevating arm, the A-200 or DT340 can raise its camera head up to the center of a 36" (900mm) diameter pipe.
Pipe inspectors hold a critical position in any community. That's why many municipalities and private industries are searching for safer and more efficient ways to perform their pipe inspections.
Pipe crawler inspections protect your team from the uncomfortable and often unsafe working conditions that manual plumbing work requires. With over a decade of proven performance, our Pipe Trekker CCTV pipe crawlers have earned acclaim as the first truly portable, battery-operated systems of their kind.
If you are ready to embrace the modern technology of pipe inspection robots, contact Pipe Trekker today! We will help you choose a submersible, battery-operated system for your pipe inspection team.