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Sewer robot checks for concrete corrosion

A new tool for measuring concrete corrosion in sewer access points will help water utilities to prioritise repairs and save time and money.

The sewer access point penetration review robot, or SAPP2R, was developed by engineers from La Trobe University in partnership with Intelligent Water Networks (IWN).

IWN is a Victorian Government initiative that brings together VicWater, 18 Victorian water corporations and the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning to investigate new solutions to industry challenges.

SAPP2R builds on a previous La Trobe-IWN collaboration that measures corrosion within sewer mains to test access points more reliably than visual inspection and faster than drilling cores for analysis.

“It’s basically a robot you can lower into sewer access points that probes the concrete,” La Trobe Senior Lecturer Robert Ross said ahead of his Ozwater’19 presentation in May.

“There are two pieces of data SAPP2R collects: the diameter of the sewer access point and how much force is being applied to the concrete. This tells us whether it’s corroded or nice and solid.”

Unlike core drilling samples, which take about 20 minutes to collect and require three people to be on site (one person in the access point and two above ground), SAPP2R is controlled by one person via an app.

“We’re significantly reducing the time it takes to get the data and the number of people who need to be present to observe the test,” Ross said.

Industry application

While Ross and the team at La Trobe provided the technical expertise to develop SAPP2R, IWN, led by Western Water Field Services and Network Operations Manager Dean Barnett, provided the industry know how.

Barnett said SAPP2R, and the pipe probe penetration robot he previously worked on with Ross, will help utilities make more informed decisions about their assets.

“Instead of simply saying this access point needs rehabilitating, the robot will provide a more scientific approach to remedial works and the timing of these works,” he said.

To find out more about SAPP2R, don’t miss Robert Ross and Dean Barnett’s presentation at Ozwater’19 on Tuesday, 7 May. Click here to register.