Concept to Commercialization R&D
Field Deployment of Advanced Technology

New ULC Locating Technology to Eliminate Third Party Damage for Orange and Rockland Utilities

ULC Robotics

Orange and Rockland Utilities has taken a significant step forward in their effort to eliminate third party damages by utilizing the most advanced natural gas main locating and mark out service. The locating technology, which is developed and deployed by New York based ULC Robotics, is able to produce highly accurate locating and mark out of the gas main along with all pipeline features so excavators can safely work near gas mains.

“On the first day we marked out two gas services and identified gas bypass piping that was not marked out by the previous utility locate contractor,” says Ryan McGowan, Director of Field Operations at ULC. “This goes to show that even just one day on the job with this technology can significantly reduce third party damage.”

Over the next several months, ULC crews will be locating and marking out small diameter Aldyl-A gas mains that are set for replacement in multiple locations in Orange and Rockland Counties. The gas utility locating service will pinpoint the exact location of the gas main along with all services, cross tees and branches without the need to rely on outdated or incomplete utility maps. In addition, ULC’s utility locating services are being utilized to pinpoint the location of other types of gas mains in areas where other locating methods have not produced satisfactory results.

ULC’s locating and mark out service pinpoints the location of the main along with all pipeline features such as services, stub services, taps, cross tees, branches, drip pots, joints and more.

“One of the biggest challenges for every gas utility is preventing third party damage,” says Gregory Penza, President at ULC Robotics. “Orange and Rockland Utilities has risen to this task by taking the extra precautions needed to greatly improve safety for utility workers, contractors and the public.”

Typical methods used to mark out underground utilities prior to pipeline replacement projects which rely on outdated or incomplete maps or can be off the mark by several feet don’t provide the accuracy and level of detail needed to ensure safety and efficiency. With this improved locating technology, which is developed and deployed by ULC, the New York based gas utility will have the mark out required by excavation contractors to effectively eliminate third party damage caused by mislocates and partial locates.

 

Gas Utility Flood Response

Cameras Help Solve Post-Flood Recovery Issues For Gas Utilities

ULC Robotics

In a process typically surrounded by guesswork, water infiltration in gas distribution mains continue to be a headache for every facet of a gas utility and gas customers. Camera systems designed to launch into and operate in live gas mains have proven to reduce this guesswork—allowing gas utilities to more efficiently locate and remove the water and restore service to customers faster. Below are just a handful of ways camera systems and new technology help improve the post-flood recovery process.

Water Infiltration: Efficient Excavations

When attempting to excavate over the point of standing water after flooding, an inaccurate excavation location can be a costly setback in recovery efforts. By using a camera system such as the patented PRX250, gas utilities can access hundreds of feet of gas main from a single excavation to seek out the exact location of standing water. This allows excavations to be accurately placed for more efficient water removal.

Water Infiltration: Locating and Removing Water

Unlike the process of trying to push hoses inside the gas main, new technology offers a single tool that offers a real-time view inside the main and a means of removing the water. The DWX200 Dewatering Camera System enters the main and travels hundreds of feet to the point of standing water. Once the camera is submerged underwater, water can removed from the main by connecting the DWX200 to a vacuum truck or other pumping system.

The result is a more efficient flood response, fewer excavations, fewer taps and faster restoration of gas service to customers.

Water Infiltration: Monitoring and Verifying Water Removal

As resources, equipment and personnel are in the process of removing water from gas mains, cameras allow utilities to monitor progress and verify that mains have been completely cleared of water. When all the water is not removed, the pressure of the main can push the water to other areas of the main, resulting in ongoing pressure issues, additional excavations and use of resources.

Identifying Low Points and Additional Locations for Drip Pots

The real-time view provided by camera systems during flood recovery enables gas utilities to record exactly where water collects inside the gas mains. This information can be used in future flood recovery efforts and to identify potential locations for drip pots and other means of hardening pipeline systems against future floods.

Managing Resources During Flood Recovery

Knowing and understanding the location of standing water and how much is less helps gas utilities better manage limited resources during the flood recovery process. Equipment, machinery, contractors and personnel can be moved based on real-time data and information — not based on guesswork.

Gas Main Inspection

Live Gas Main Inspection Technology from ULC “Crosses the Pond”

ULC Robotics

The Large VGC Inspection Crawler from ULC Robotics was successfully utilized to inspect several large diameter cast iron gas mains operated by Scotia Gas Networks (SGN) in the suburbs of London and another city south of London. The real-time video provided by the crawler allowed SGN to assess their mains, looking for pipeline features and debris that may hinder future projects at the selected locations.

Inspections with the Large VGC as well as other cameras and crawlers from ULC are capable of launching into and operating in live gas mains, so gas utilities such as SGN do not need to disrupt service to customers. In urban areas such as London, shutting down gas service in one main could lead to the costly and resource-heavy burden of relighting gas appliances in customers’ homes or putting all residents on bottle service.

 

Scotia Gas Networks delivers natural gas to 5.8 million customers in the United Kingdom. Their service territory covers all of Scotland and parts of England, including a section of London.

The Large VGC Crawler from ULC Robotics was purpose built to inspect live 18”-48” gas mains without allowing methane to escape. The tethered crawler enters the gas main using a launch tube that mounts vertically onto a valve in a minimally sized pit and only requires a 4” tap hole in the main. Once inside the main, the Large VGC is capable of traveling 750’ in either direction of the entry point for a total inspection distance of 1,500’.

Direct Assessment of Cased Pipeline

ULC’s Micro-Magnetic Crawler Makes Appearance in Pipeline and Gas Journal

ULC Robotics

The Micro-Magnetic Crawler made an appearance in the Tech Notes section of Pipeline and Gas Journal‘s December issue. Titled Robotic Inspection Tool Makes Direct Assessment of Cased Pipeline a Reality, the article explains the advantages the crawler provides to cased pipeline operators as a remotely controlled inspection device.

New federal pipeline integrity rules require utility companies to evaluate thousands of gas mains buried beneath highways, railroad tracks and airport runways – each and every one cased inside a larger pipe. The research and development team at ULC Robotics in New York has developed a robotic inspection tool that is capable of inspecting and gathering critical data about the integrity of cased pipe.

The Micro Magnetic Crawler (MMC) is a remotely controlled robotic device developed to directly assess cased gas mains. The robot magnetically attaches to the interior wall of the casing and travels in the annular space between the gas main and the casing; a space as small as 1.25” high by hundreds of feet long. The ultra-compact MMC is capable of gathering data by utilizing an array of advanced sensors and can obtain high resolution video viewable in real-time, allowing potential defects and features to be instantly analyzed. Using the MMC, gas companies can gather data from within the annular space in order to assess and locate damaged spacers, shorts, pipeline coating defects, water infiltration and pipe wall thickness.

Real-Time Visual Assessment

Front and rear mounted cameras provide real-time, full motion video of the outer surface of the cased gas main. The video feed is viewable and recorded remotely for onsite and post inspection review.

The control system incorporates integrated video measurement software that enables the operator to acquire dimensions of features found during the inspection; such as the size and location of delaminated coating.

Integrated Sensor Package

The Micro Magnetic Crawler’s pitch and roll sensors allow for remote navigation and provide the precise circumferential and linear location of defects and anomalies while integrated temperature and humidity sensors capable of remotely determining environmental conditions within the casing.

Using a double echo, ultra-sonic thickness gauge, the MMC is also capable of taking spot wall thickness measurements. The UT sensor can measure the pipe wall thickness through a variety of coatings including coal tar TGF-3, enamels and epoxies and PE two-layer coatings such as PRITEC.

The Importance of Research and Development for Gas Utilities

The Micro Magnetic Crawler is a trenchless technology that began as a research and development project funded by NYSEARCH member companies and serves as a prime example of how the development of new technology can make the gathering of difficult-to-acquire data more efficient and cost effective for gas utilities.

The research and development team at ULC Robotics specializes in developing a wide range of tools, including advanced robotic devices, which allow utility companies to reduce excavation, save money and better utilize scarce resources in order to safely maintain their critical pipeline infrastructure.

To see other R&D projects, cameras and crawlers developed by ULC or to learn about pipeline inspection and other technical services for gas utilities, please visit www.ulcrobotics.com or call 631-667-9200.

No-Dig Anode Installation Technology

3 Ways New Technology Helps Gas Utilities Improve Efficiency

ULC Robotics

As people who work with natural gas distribution infrastructures every day, we constantly develop new ways to advance gas infrastructure maintenance, making it safer for gas workers, contractors and the general public while reducing maintenance costs.

While you may be thinking about robotic technology and complex devices, new technology does not have to be complicated in order to improve efficiency–it can also be a simple change in process that provides a better way to accomplish your goals. Below are three ways new technology has helped improve the efficiency of infrastructure maintenance; either by reducing costs, creating a safer work environment or just helping gas utilities better understand their pipelines.

1. New Methods of Pipeline Locating Improve Safety During Excavation

Data from utility maps is highly susceptible to being out-of-date, incomplete and inaccurate and should be confirmed using a locating service before any excavation takes place. While conventional locating methods are commonly used to attempt to confirm data from maps, it is possible that many pipeline features are both not on the map and are not able to be detected using typical locating practices.

Using our in-pipe locating technology ULC is able to pinpoint the location of all your pipeline features and provide highly accurate mark out on the street surface to ensure the safest work environment when excavating near buried gas mains.

2. Inspecting Your Mains Will Help You Prioritize Maintenance Resources

Camera inspections of your live gas mains allow you truly assess conditions and look for damage without taking the mains out of service. Internal pipeline video provides data on pipeline wall conditions, valve positions, services, stub services, branches, tees and damage. Most of our camera systems are also used to locate sources of water infiltration and even provide video imaging when fully submerged underwater. This data allows gas utilities to identify and locate potential risks and gather the data needed to properly prioritize maintenance.

3. Updated Processes Open Up Better Ways to Do More With Less

In our industry, the processes and procedures in place for regular maintenance work have been around for many years and often remain unchanged. Process improvements are designed to meet our goals while minimizing risk by finding new ways to get our work done. As these processes are updated, gas utilities benefit from improved safety, lower costs and improved efficiency.

The updated process we developed with Con Edison to simplify the anode installation process clears multiple CWOs per day while helping to improve efficiency. The No-Dig Anode Installation Process can be performed entirely without excavation, eliminating the need for street opening permits. The process also reduces disruption to the public, environmental impact and lowers the cost of your cathodic protection.

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