A recent partnership between a German manufacturer and British distributor gathered pace during September, when they presented together at the UK’s largest specialist trade show. Sewer inspection camera manufacturer IBAK Helmut Hunger GmbH & Co. KG (IBAK), based in Kiel, has been working with S1E limited, based in Barnsley in the North of England since October 2020.
“The recent No-Dig Live event, finally getting people back together again following the easing of Covid restrictions, granted us the best opportunity to show our products to the UK since beginning to work together last year.” stated Frank Claassen from IBAK.
No-Dig Live which ran from 14 to 16 September and is the only such event in the UK to focus solely on trenchless techniques of pipeline installation and repair. The two companies together launched new IBAK developments to the UK market at the S1E stand, including IBAK’s MicroGator Air and NanoGator cutting and grinding robots.
“The show brings together specialists who will use IBAK’s equipment to inspect and repair existing pipelines.” said S1E Director Scott McMurray. “The interest we received from visitors to the show was phenomenal, with many complimentary remarks about the quality of the build of the equipment and excitement about the special features that the IBAK team has developed.”
IBAK is a world-wide operating manufacturer and supplier of sewer inspection and rehabilitation systems. The industry pioneer added cutting and grinding robots to its product portfolio in 2012. With this, the company aims to offer the most complete product range possible for the sewer pipe inspection and rehabilitation industry. S1E specialises in distributing products for trenchless repair. Established in 2007, the company originally focussed on the sale of Pipe Doctor, its own patch repair system. Pipe Doctor was the first patch repair system to be supplied in a kit form and the first to gain approval from the Water Research Centre (WRc), the UK’s independent testing body for the water industry.
Since then, S1E has grown and grown its range to include other products, covering all aspects of the process of inspection and repair, for contractors who deliver a no-excavation solution for their customers.
Scott McMurray was recently interviewed about S1E’s development and work with IBAK:
How has S1E changed since it was first established?
We began as a company supplying consumables and small items of equipment specifically for patch repair of small sections of pipe. We have now put together a range of products that includes much larger pieces of equipment and follows the process through, so that our customers can source all of the items that they need from S1E.
What have you looked for in growing your ranges?
We have looked to form partnerships with well-known manufacturers who produce high-quality products and equipment. IBAK fits this ethos perfectly. The company is well-established, being the largest and oldest specialist sewer inspection manufacturer in the industry. It manufactures to tight quality assurance systems, producing consistently durable products.
Where do you see the partnership with IBAK leading?
IBAK is rightly proud of its innovative approach, employing a small army of research and development technicians who work closely with customers, universities and other partners. This approach keeps IBAK’s products ahead of the industry, leading developments and improvements so that customers have the best solutions at their fingertips.
The commitment from IBAK to continued research and development will make them a great long-term partner as they continue to provide products that lead the market.
What about after-sales servicing?
S1E is also an IBAK licensed service centre. Complex mechanical and electrical equipment such as robots, cameras and cutters need regular maintenance and servicing. Both S1E and IBAK are committed to ensuring that IBAK customers are looked after once they have purchased their equipment. S1E invested in building a dedicated service centre to provide this service. Our team and IBAK’s are in close contact to make certain that we support these customers in every way.
Frank Claassen also commented about the S1E/IBAK partnership and described some features of the new MicroGator Air cutting and grinding robot:
Why did you select S1E for a distributor partnership?
S1E is well-known with contractors needing trenchless supplies. The company has developed a reputation for providing good quality equipment and supporting its customers. This is the feeling we want our own customers to experience, so they are a good fit with IBAK.
What do you think of S1E’s other ranges?
S1E sells other products that compliment ours and are needed by the same customers. The brands that S1E distributes are from other leaders in their own areas – companies with good quality products and who are thought of in a similar way to IBAK.
What support do you give to S1E?
We have given training to members of the S1E Team and will continue to do so as our products change or as the S1E Team changes. This makes sure that they have deep knowledge of our products and can accurately answer the questions that customers have. The training also makes sure that the after-sales servicing provided by S1E is of the highest quality. Our team and S1E’s are always in close contact too.
I attended No-Dig Live with the S1E team too and spoke to lots of customers about the cameras and cutters on display.
You presented the MicroGator Air for the first time at this trade show. What are the advantages for users of the pneumatic cutting and grinding robot?
The MicroGator Air is an ideal solution for service providers who are looking for a compact cutting system and at the same time want to benefit from the advantages of a complete inspection system. MicroGator Air cutters, MainLite winches and inspection tractors and cameras are fully compatible so that various applications can be covered using the multifunctional system. The same thin cable is used to operate the cutter and cameras, so that even long distances can be covered in the sewer. This ensures extremely time-saving and efficient work.
In which specific implementation has know-how from the established electric cutting and grinding robot MicroGator been used for the development of the MicroGator Air pneumatic cutting and grinding robot?
The functions and specifications of the MicroGator have been largely adopted for the MicroGator Air. These include, for example, the user-friendly operation, the powerful tractor motors, and the 4th axle for tilting the cutting tool forwards. Permanent pressure monitoring was also implemented and lowering hooks integrated so that the cutting and grinding robot can be safely lowered into the manhole and retrieved again without anyone having to climb into the manhole.
Are there also influences where the MircoGator Air benefited from IBAK’s origins in sewer inspection technology?
Yes, of course. The CutterCam, for example! With its flexible focus and razor- sharp image, it provides the best possible view of the cutting area. The integrated air shield keeps dirt away from the camera lens, creating excellent conditions for a good cutting result.
The collaboration has already begun to yield results with the purchase of a MicroGator-Air system by Drains UK 2000. The Yorkshire-based company already works with IBAK inspection equipment and is now the first IBAK milling customer in England. Both companies are looking forward to a long-term working relationship that will support UK customers with their IBAK products.