From A for assessment of condition to Z for zoom camera and everything in between; it is probably easy find terms related to tasks in sewer inspection and rehabilitation for nearly all the letters of the alphabet. At the Dutch company Induron B.V., all tasks are performed by the same team with the same vehicle. The owner and general manager Eduard Veenhuis and his team have given some insight into their day-to-day work with the multifunctional vehicle equipped with a MicroGator Air pneumatic cutter robot and an IBAK MainLite system.
Eduard Veenhuis and his brother Theo Veenhuis founded the company in 1999 with a focus on sewer inspection. At the time, their initial equipment consisted of a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter with an ARGUS pan and rotate camera. In terms of the amount of time required, 80% of the work performed by the small family-owned company is for acceptance tests for construction work. However, in terms of turnover, the amount reached with inspection work is decreasing more and more in favour of rehabilitation projects.
In many Dutch municipalities there is a high level of groundwater that seeps into the sewer system through defects in the sewer pipes. The increasing number of problems has led to a high demand for rehabilitation in the region and therefore to a rising number of tenders. Eduard Veenhuis finally increased the scope of services of Induron B.V. to include short length liner repairs and manhole rehabilitation.
For about 3 years now, the team of four has participated increasingly in tenders in the rehabilitation sector.
Independent of Partner Companies
To implement rehabilitation work, Eduard Veenhuis initially had to depend on his good network of partner companies. Whenever it was necessary, he cooperated with subcontractors. This worked well but required a great deal of coordination and planning,
as he always had to depend on the capabilities of his partner companies. Nowadays the company operates the MicroGator Air pneumatic cutter robot which is a component of their latest IBAK cutter and TV vehicle. With the multifunctional vehicle, they now perform all work steps with their own equipment, independently of any external services. “The cutter is always available, regardless of whether my partners have to do an unexpected emergency job in the meantime or not.” explained Eduard Veenhuis.
Unlike big rehabilitation companies that employ separate teams for individual work steps, at Induron all the work to be done at the job site is performed by one and the same team. “With us, we do not have another team that we can pass on the baton to. This is why it would not have been of any use to us just to buy a cutter. What we needed was a fully-fledged inspection system with which you can also perform cutting jobs.” said Eduard. “The MicroGator Air is integrated into the IBAK MainLite system so the motor-driven KW 306 cable winch and the control system that are also used for IBAK inspection systems are fully compatible. “In our daily work, it is a big advantage that all jobs from inspection through to rehabilitation can be done with the new system.
It covers all our applications. We operate the cutter and the camera with the same joysticks and buttons.” Eduard explained more closely the motives that led to the purchase of the system nearly a year ago: “The integration of the IKAS evolution software ensures smooth transfer of data from inspection to rehabilitation. So, defects are captured during the inspection, rehabilitation measures are planned and the elimination of defects is documented during cutting operations in the same work environment.” he said.
Engineering ‘in the Blood’
Even though the two Veenhuis brothers Eduard and Theo have opted for the sewer industry, their family background with over 70 years of experience in the construction of agricultural equipment is evident. The engineers have equipped the vehicle to fit their requirements with expert knowledge and professional competence. They integrated a diesel-driven VANAIR VIPER compressed air compressor into the van to provide compressed air to drive the cutter motor. In addition, they installed a motor- driven hose coiler made by the Italian company MECLUBE S.R.L. for the 3⁄4 in (20 mm) diameter air hose for the cutter motor. Finally, they mounted the motor-driven KW 306 cable winch of the IBAK MainLite system in front of the hose coiler. They arranged all components according to function and installed them in a blue steel structure inside the vehicle. Last but not least, they equipped the steel framework with a swivel pull-out load arm with a load capacity of up to 800 kg.
The robot tractor is electrically driven. Eduard Veenhuis produces power for the four-wheel drive sustainably by means of photovoltaic cells on the roof of the vehicle. However, the cutter motor of the MicroGator Air is pneumatically driven. Its efficient cutting performance is achieved using a 3⁄4 in (20 mm) diameter air hose with an inside diameter of 19 mm.
Induron staff member Marcel Lozeman makes sure that the tension of the air hose, paid out by the MECLUBE hose coiler, is identical to that of the yellow camera cable, paid out by the KW 306.
Short Familiarisation Period
Team colleague Sandink has been with Induron for 22 years and came to appreciate the MicroGator Air as a reliable work tool in next to no time. The 65-year-old has been doing TV inspections for decades and did not hesitate to take over the new task. “It does
not take long to learn how to operate it.” he said. He operates the Orpheus pan and rotate camera on the T66 camera tractor and now also the cutter robot in an expert manner. While he cuts back a protruding connection in a section, he is full of praise for the precise control of the potentiometer in the joysticks and the continuously adjustable moving speed.
“We cut for an hour when required, and then we go on to other work.” said Sandink in reply to a question about the working procedure. He said it is not like working with a team that does cutting work all day long, section after section, in preparation for the liner team. When necessary, he removes roots that interfere with an inspection before or after the camera inspection. He also removes all other kinds of obstacles to the flow such as incrustations, protruding connections, joint displacements and deposits with the MicroGator Air. Cutting work is always a time-limited work step among many others. He also reinstates laterals with the cutter robot.
As the next section has a diameter of DN500, he mounts the tractor attachment with pneumatic tyres on the MicroGator Air in a few steps. To remove rubber linings protruding from joints near laterals, Sandink now also changes the tool on the cutter. He uses a conically shaped attachment with an extension and utilises the 4th axle of the robot to be able to work into the lateral.
Everything in View
At the same time, Sandink has an unrestricted view of the working area with the CutterCam colour pan and tilt camera. As the compressed air to drive the motor is also used for the air screen of the CutterCam surveillance camera, the compressed air is processed and then new oil is added. A further advantage is that the tried and tested lens cleaning function has been implemented without an additional hose so that the cutter robot can be operated via the standard camera cable.
The focus of the surveillance camera can be flexibly adjusted so that the working area is not only in sharp focus but the rehabilitation results can also be documented in detail. Thanks to the integrated gravity sensor, system operator Sandink can orientate himself correctly in the pipe.
With a further camera, Sandink can see behind the robot. The rear-view camera of the MicroGator Air ensures that the system reverses out of the sewer in a controlled manner.
The MicroGator Air was developed on the basis of the electric MicroGator. Accordingly, various basic components are identical to those in the pneumatic cutter. IBAK Robotics has
only adapted the components that are required to drive the cutter motor. At Induron B.V., the staff are very content that the pneumatic version also features the tried and tested functions of the electric version that is more widespread on the German market. Continuous pressure monitoring for example plays a decisive role in dramatically reducing system failures. Permanent communication between the tractor unit and the control unit as well as the position sensors also ensures with the MicroGator Air that the operator is always informed of the position of the tractor unit in the pipe.
For inspection work, Induron uses an IBAK Orpheus 2 pan and rotate camera with the MainLite system. With this camera, the team is not only able to carry out condition assessment of sewers with diameters of DN150 to DN2000 but can also provide further services. The specialist company can perform continuous laser-supported profile measurements with the laser integrated into the fully rotatable camera head. The calculated actual profile over the complete run of a section can be used as a basis for planning rehabilitation measures. In addition, the 3D sensor also integrated into the IBAK Orpheus camera enables the pipe run to be captured during the camera inspection. With the 3D-GeoSense pipe run measurement, Induron can provide its customers with a true-to-life site plan with width, length and height data. The insight gained with the two types of survey by far exceeds that of a purely optical inspection and can contribute to the reliable execution of rehabilitation measures.
Cost-effective and Practicable
Induron B.V. has found an optimum solution for its applications with the combination of a MicroGator Air pneumatic cutter robot and the fully compatible IBAK MainLite system. The multifunctional system enables this small specialist company to perform orders for inspections through to rehabilitation work cost-effectively, efficiently and from end-to-end. The team can reliably remove any obstacles blocking the flow of sewage, no matter whether it is a question of protruding connections, deposits or intruding roots, which are a frequent occurrence, without having recourse to subcontractors. The small specialist company would not have been able to operate a purely electric cutter system profitably for its requirements as it does not do cutting work around the clock every day. As Induron can operate both the Orpheus inspection camera and the pneumatic cutter robot with the built-in IBAK MainLite system, the equipment is used to full capacity and can be deployed profitably for end-to- end job execution.