Tuesday, May 21, 2024

LIVING SUSTAINABILITY – SHAPING THE FUTURE

The RELINE CONFERENCE 2024 provided leading minds from research, industry, and associations with the ideal platform to discuss the future of water supply and the trenchless industry.

How can we protect the valuable resource of water? The RELINE CONFERENCE 2024 provided leading minds from research, industry, and associations with the ideal platform to discuss the future of water supply and the trenchless industry. It presented clever solutions
while also igniting impulses, all in the spirit of strong partnerships and sustainability.

Historical steam locomotives, vehicles from the early days of mobility to the present, a Boeing 747 and even a space capsule with a spacefaring past provided the location where the RELINE CONFERENCE 2024 welcomed its visitors from more than 25 nations with surprises at first glance. Upon closer inspection, however, there could hardly be a better location than the Technik Museum Speyer, one of the largest of its kind in Germany. It is often spectacular exhibits testify to a lively spirit of innovation, the human endeavor to address the pressing problems of the time with technologies, and to overcome previously insurmountable distances.

This is precisely the spirit that also characterises the trenchless industry. More than 120 decision-makers and leading figures from research, industry, and associations followed the invitation of the world’s leading GRP company to Speyer. “We want to get back in touch with the customer, strengthen the relationship with them, and show them what we are
looking for in the future.” explained Philipp Bergmann, Area Sales Manager Europe, the idea behind the RELINE conference. How is the vital resource of water doing? How can the industry be transformed through sustainable solutions? Also, what ecological and economic opportunities does this transformation offer? These are all questions that need to be
discussed. Ahead of the visitors are two days of lively dialogue, full of multifaceted insights, deep conversations, and enriching encounters.

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The state of water supply demands urgent attention

‘The power of partnership’ is also the motto of the fifth RELINE CONFERENCE. It is a motto that expresses confidence in the power of what can be achieved. But at the same time, it is an appeal to unleash this power even further than before. Because one thing is certain: The
challenges surrounding the supply of people with clean drinking water are enormous. ‘The United Nations’ water report of 2021 identifies the immediate threat of a global water crisis that could have serious implications for human health, food security, energy production,
ecosystems, and social stability, Marc Stiebing emphasised at the start of the event. With compelling numbers and facts, the RELINE CEO outlined how precarious the situation is globally: “2 billion people in the world lack adequate access to water, around 3.6 billion lack access to safe sanitation facilities.”

Billions of precious liters are lost in Europe alone

The magnitude of the mission facing the industry is difficult to overstate. For the situation is rapidly deteriorating even in places where it was previously unimaginable: in rapidly growing urban centers from Tokyo, Mumbai to Sao Paolo, water supply instabilities loom. Furthermore in Europe, there is an urgent need to address several critical aspects.

With an overall length of 3.1 million kilometers, the sewerage network has an average age of 50 years and is increasingly in need of rehabilitation. Exfiltration through leaks not only results in the loss of valuable resources but also poses risks to human health and the environment through contamination of groundwater and surface water. “1 litre of wastewater is enough to contaminate up to 1,000 litres of groundwater.” emphasised the CEO of RELINE, highlighting the potential dangers.

Infiltration into the sewer systems, on the other hand, can at worst push sewage treatment plants to their limits or even trigger sewage floods, leading to severe contamination and pollution.

On the drinking water side, the situation is no better. “Thames Water, the largest water supplier in England, lost 690 million liters of water every day due to leaks in 2018, equivalent to the daily needs of around 5 million people!” Marc Stiebing cited further numbers that give cause for thought. Looking at Europe as a whole, water loss averages at 25%.

Only a united effort from all parties involved can eliminate the backlog of
rehabilitation

But what are the reasons for this disaster? Dr.-Ing. Robert Stein, an expert in pipeline construction, maintenance, and network management, provided answers in his keynote on the first day of the conference: “Tight budgets, lack of personnel, and procurement policies still focused on the lowest price have caused a backlog of rehabilitation in municipalities over the years.” Or, as articulated by Benedikt Stentrup, board member of the Pipeline Rehabilitation Association RSV e.V., the urgent need for action: “Our bridges are in a desolate state – underground, it is no different. The number of daily collapses, i.e., collapsing sidewalks and roads due to underground pipe damage, is noticeably increasing.”

Continuing as before is not an option. Returning to Marc Stiebing once again, who called for a major collaboration among all stakeholders in light of the situation: “It is important to manage the use of water as well as rainwater and to maintain our water cycle. We all, the planning offices, the manufacturers of GRP liners and equipment, the rehabilitation
companies, as well as the municipalities, can make a crucial contribution to advancing this important societal issue.” the message of the RELINE CEO states. “Especially with regard to the consequences of global warming, policymakers must focus clearly on sustainable water management.”

The CO2 footprint of GRP lining is convincing

When it comes to sustainability in the context of water supply, a critical examination of the CO2 footprint of rehabilitation measures is unavoidable. “GRP lining is the most sustainable sewer rehabilitation method.” emphasised Marc Stiebing at the RELINE CONFERENCE 2024. Together with another manufacturer of GRP liners, a study was commissioned at the Fraunhofer Institute to investigate the CO² balance throughout the entire process, from material selection to production, transportation of the liner, to installation. “This study, which is about to be published, will clearly demonstrate that the GRP liner is the most resource-efficient rehabilitation measure compared to open construction methods as well as felt liner procedures.” Marc Stiebing provided initial insights into the results of the scientific study. Switching industry-wide from concrete pipes to GRP liners could save the annual emissions of a large European country.

RELINE relies on extensive in-house expertise

As the host of the conference, RELINE recognised the potential of trenchless sewer
rehabilitation and is dedicated to driving its optimisation with great enthusiasm. A significant milestone on this journey was gaining even deeper control over all key process steps in the manufacturing and processing of GRP liners. “We are producing our own fabrics in Rheine.” explained Johannes Pick, Director of Operations. “ I think this is one thing which makes us an outstanding producer.”

Since January 2022, the competence centre has been operating at full capacity, with around 20 employees bringing their expertise to the demanding manufacturing process. “We are able to produce everything we need to a special quality and to realize special projects for our customers.” emphasised Johannes Pick, highlighting the advantages of this in-house concept. Two company records demonstrate what is possible through this strategy: in 2022, the heaviest liner in the company’s history (54 tons) as well as the largest liner were manufactured: a DN 2000 with a wall thickness of 14.2 mm and a length of 149 metres.

While records are impressive, it is more significant to continually increase the number of sewer rehabilitations using GRP liners in the spirit of sustainability and resource conservation. “Annually, the German wastewater industry renovates around one percent of the public sewer networknetwork.” said Firmino Pires Barbosa, Area Sales Manager Northwest and South Europe, presenting a market with significant growth opportunities for the industry at the RELINE CONFERENCE 2024. Not only because the increasingly urgent backlog of rehabilitation needs to be addressed decisively, but also because currently only about 25% of the rehabilitation measures in the overall 594,335 km long German network utilise a GRP lining method.

Trenchless sewer rehabilitation requires holistic approaches

Now it is crucial to further raise awareness among planners, the construction industry, and municipalities about the attractive benefits of trenchless sewer rehabilitation – from reduced interventions in urban spaces and traffic, to lower emissions, and time and cost savings. This can be achieved, among other things, by providing customers in the trenchless industry with a portfolio of products and solutions that precisely cover their entire range of needs and are efficiently deployable. RELINE, for example, continuously invests in the development and expansion of its Alphaliner system. The company will soon introduce liner tubes to the market that are specialised for applications ranging from wastewater channels to pressure pipes, water mains, and manholes. In Europe alone, there is an annual demand for 310,000 manhole rehabilitations. “The repair of defective manholes contributes to ensuring the reliability, efficiency, environmental friendliness, and
safety of infrastructure facilities within a community.” said Philipp Bergmann succinctly summarising the added value of renewal, which can also be applied to other areas of GRP liner usage.

However, as evident from the first day of the RELINE CONFERENCE 2024,
a comprehensive offering must go even further and consider the entire
rehabilitation process. RELINE does exactly that with its modular UV
curing systems and proprietary vehicle concepts for curing vehicles and
rehabilitation trailers. “We need uniform definitions of installation processes
and minimum requirements for UV curing systems.” emphasized Philipp
Martin, Director Sales Europe & Marketing, regarding an ongoing dialogue
within the industry aimed at strengthening client trust in GRP lining.

The RELINE CONFERENCE 2024 inspires a call to action

After the first day of the conference presented and discussed the challenges and perspectives surrounding water supply and the world of trenchless sewer rehabilitation in a fact-filled manner, the second day of the RELINE CONFERENCE 2024 got hands-on practical: factory tours and an Innovation Show invited participants to explore the RELINE premises in Rohrbach and experience the company’s product world up close. Once again, it become clear: standing still is not an option for the trenchless industry!

So, what is the conclusion of the RELINE CONFERENCE 2024? There is much to be done to secure water cycles, protect the well-being of people, and preserve the environment. The good news: GRP lining will play a crucial role in this endeavor. The monumental task can be tackled – together, with the power of partnership.

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Newsdesk
Trenchless Works bringing you balanced journalism, accuracy, news and features for all involved in the business of trenchless and no-dig from around the world

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