Robotics-as-a-Service & Technology Deployment

Preventing Damages to Utility Infrastructure | Damage Prevention Week (March 22-28, 2021)

ULC Robotics

This week is Damage Prevention Week, an important event that brings together major industry stakeholders to discuss new ideas for preventing damage to both underground and overhead infrastructure and improving safety in the excavating community. At ULC, many of our technologies and services have been born out of the need to prevent damages to utility infrastructure and to ensure safe digging.

According to the CGA 2021 Next Practices Report, one of the top three critical issues is that facilities are not marked accurately and on time. This means that utilities have an increasing need to identify and inspect features in gas mains before excavating. ULC Pipeline Robotics’ crews deploy our Live Gas Main Mapping technology to help utilities eliminate third-party damage by accurately marking out the gas main and all gas main features ahead of gas main replacement programs, rehabilitation projects and other projects. We provide detailed mark out and mapping of all features including couplings, stub services, tees and valves.

Cross bore risk reduction continues to be a growing topic among the utility industry, with the most recent DIRT report delivered by the Common Ground Alliance (CGA) adding the question, “did this event involve a cross bore?” when determining the cause of damage. ULC’s X-ID cross bore detection technology was recently developed to detect cross bores while eliminating the need to enter sewer mains and laterals. Our custom-developed sensor is deployed into the PE gas main or service to listen for the acoustic signal. The technology can be deployed immediately after horizontal directional drilling (HDD) before the gas is introduced or it can be deployed in live mains and services to support legacy cross bore inspection programs. ULC Robotics is currently working with utilities in the Northeast and West Coast of the U.S. to deploy the X-ID technology for detecting cross bores.

Innovation projects being developed at ULC Technologies are also incorporating capabilities to prevent damages. The Robotic Roadworks and Excavation System (RRES), developed in collaboration with UK gas network SGN, utilizes below ground sensors to ensure that the robot is digging in a safe and accurate location, and to identify any other buried utilities that may impede the work.  The automated soft-touch excavation methods enable the robot to autonomously remove the soil one layer at a time, while identifying and avoiding other buried utilities. RRES is expected to revolutionize the way that traditional roadworks are performed, especially when it comes to safety.

In addition to RRES, our team is working with the U.S. Department of Transportation Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) on a co-funded project to develop a Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) Mapping Robot designed to enhance locating capabilities for both metallic and non-metallic pipelines. GPR has been used extensively for locating underground pipelines and preventing third-party damage, so we hope to improve the quality of locating through the development of this autonomous robot.

While we formally recognize the importance of damage prevention during this year’s Damage Prevention Week, ULC is always focused on reducing damages and improving excavation safety through both the deployment of advanced damage prevention solutions and the development of future solutions. We hope to continue working with the industry to prevent third-party damage and keep workers and the community safe.

Reach out to our team to learn more.

 

Gas-industry-awards-2021

ULC Robotics Lands Finalist Spot at UK Gas Industry Awards 2021

ULC Robotics

ULC Robotics has been shortlisted for the Company of the Year award at the prestigious 2021 UK Gas Industry Awards!

For over 20 years, the Gas Industry Awards has recognised the gas industry’s most innovative and dedicated companies and individuals. The awards, which are organised by IGEM and The Energy and Utilities Alliance (EUA), identify achievements of members and celebrate the best of the best across the industry.

Graeme Cleeton, VP of ULC Robotics said “It’s an honour for ULC Robotics to be shortlisted for Company of the Year by IGEM and the EUA for our innovative contributions in the UK gas industry since 2013. To be recognised alongside a real high calibre of industry players is an achievement in itself.”

Due to COVID-19, the awards ceremony was postponed in 2020, and the winners of the 2021 Gas Industry Awards will be announced on 18 May during a virtual ceremony. The awards ceremony attracts many professionals across the gas industry year on year, and provides great networking opportunities. We’re looking forward to attending virtually on the day.

For more information on attending the free event or to see the shortlisted nominations, click here.

CISBOT Pilot Program with Eversource Energy Begins in Worcester, Massachusetts

ULC Robotics

ULC has partnered with Eversource Energy to begin a CISBOT pilot project in Worcester, Mass., an area identified as an ideal project location due to its surrounding residential community and a nearby university. Eversource is a Fortune 500 energy company that delivers energy to nearly 4M customers in Connecticut, Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

Since the work began in November 2020, the team has sealed 144 joints. Once completed, CISBOT will have remediated almost a mile of infrastructure with minimal disruption to the surrounding community and significant savings compared to standard remediation methods.

“It is ULC’s hope that this will be the first of many projects with Eversource and add to the list of utilities looking for innovative and cost-reducing services, such as CISBOT.”

Chris Anderson, Project Manager of CISBOT Field Operations discusses the project in this video:

 

Prior to the CISBOT pilot program, Eversource and ULC collaborated on the development of a solution to reduce accidental damages to gas mains. The gas main locating technology helped improve the safety of pipeline replacement programs and is now being by used various utilities to prevent third party damages.

A Day in the Life of a CISBOT Apprentice

ULC Robotics

As part of National Apprenticeship Week 2021, we spoke to one of our CISBOT apprentices, Lewis Greenan, to find out about his experience at ULC so far. Lewis is one of ULC’s five apprentices from Middlesbrough College, working across our UK CISBOT sites to gain hands-on mentoring from our experienced robotic engineers.

 

 

What’s a typical day like as a CISBOT Apprentice?

“The first thing we do when we get to site on the eco-cabin is to hook up the tether to the back of the robot and run it through a bench test, making sure it’s functioning properly before we launch it in the gas main. After checking everything is operating fine, I help to launch CISBOT in the gas main for operations to start. When CISBOT’s safely in the gas main, the operatives on site begin looking or sealing joints. Meanwhile, I carry out any maintenance that’s required in the eco-cabin or on spare equipment in advance of our next launch. Once the operations are coming to an end, I help to remove CISBOT from the gas main before cleaning the robot ahead of the operations the following day. After this is completed, we shut down the site and lock up, heading home before another day of work. My apprenticeship at ULC also involves doing remote learning one day a week with Middlesbrough College where I’m studying for a HNC in Mechatronics.”

 

What’s been the most rewarding part of your apprenticeship so far?

“Since joining ULC, I’ve enjoyed getting involved in new opportunities across the company as well as learning about the other technologies we have. I’ve had the chance to take part in the training of one of our R&D projects, and will be taking part in the field trials this year. This will involve travelling to Scotland for two weeks, being out in the field and delivering insights for ULC’s clients.”

 

 

How did you find being classed as a key worker during the COVID-19 pandemic?

“Working during COVID-19 was a unique situation. I was grateful that I was able to continue working and learning safely while carrying out work to help customers stay connected to gas supplies.”

 

What advice can you offer those seeking apprenticeships?

“Make sure you take up every opportunity that is presented to you. This will broaden your learning and maximise the chances of finding a great apprenticeship.”

utility-week-awards-shortlisted-finalists

ULC Robotics Makes Utility Week Awards Shortlist for Critical Work During COVID-19

ULC Robotics

ULC Robotics, leading Robotics-as-a-Service (RaaS) solutions provider and developer for the energy industry, has been shortlisted for the Utility Week Awards in the ‘Keeping Us Connected’ category with UK gas distribution network Cadent.

The ‘Keeping Us Connected’ award celebrates the contributions of teams and individuals working within UK utilities during the COVID-19 pandemic. ULC and Cadent’s CISBOT team were nominated for their dedication and flexibility to continue with essential gas pipe remediation and emergency repair work to keep the gas flowing safely and reliably to local communities – all with minimal disruption.

Like many, COVID-19 had a significant impact on ULC and Cadent’s daily operations, meaning working practices were continually adapted throughout the year to align with restrictions, and most importantly, keep employees and the public safe.

The shortlisted entry discussed how teams were bubbled to continue providing critical gas remediation and enabling 3,669 joints to be remediated throughout lockdown, as well as offering emergency response work in iconic locations like Whitehall in London. The 6-week emergency project at Whitehall witnessed the successful elimination and prevention of gas leaks along a 359m section of 30” main. The team sealed 105 joints with minimal disruption to customers and the public while providing extraordinary cost-savings for customers.

The winners of the Utility Week Awards will be announced on February 8th during a virtual ceremony. For more information on attending the event or to see the shortlisted nominations, visit https://www.utilityweekawards.co.uk.

100km-cisbot-remediation-uk

Reaching Milestones: 100km of UK Pipelines Remediated With CISBOT

ULC Pipeline Robotics is celebrating the remediation of 100km worth of the UK’s gas mains using CISBOT. This milestone has been achieved through our progress with gas distribution networks, SGN and Cadent since 2013 with CISBOT proving itself to be a critical technology to support the management and maintenance of gas assets.

Thanks to our operational teams, we have remediated the equivalent of 27,500 joints in gas mains across locations including Brighton, Manchester and Edinburgh. CISBOT has also been deployed underneath iconic streets in London, such as Regent Street, Whitehall and Sloane Square.

Over this 100km journey, we have witnessed the continuous development robotic technology to meet our clients network requirements and overcome some of the challenges they face on a day-to-day basis. We have designed larger configurations for CISBOT to cover 36” mains, 16” systems for Tier 2 assets and currently developing configurations for 15”, 42” and 48” systems.

We’ve continued to challenge conventional methods of remediation using our robotic technology to minimise the delivery time and disruption of our projects. Using our solar-panelled control cabins and 24hr working practices, we’re continuing to support the UK’s movement towards net-zero by reducing emissions on site.

Throughout the last 7 years, we have also witnessed the development of revolutionary innovations for the utility industry, such as the advancements with The Robotic Roadwork and Excavation System (RRES).

For more information on CISBOT and to learn how to ULC Robotics can help strengthen and remediate your natural gas network, please visit: https://ulcrobotics.com/services/cisbot-robotic-cast-iron-joint-sealing/

Upcoming Events

Upcoming Events and Webinars

ULC Robotics

Join our free webinars and virtual events to learn more about our industry expertise, services, and technologies. 

 

WEBINAR – Eliminate Accidental Damages During Your 2021 Gas Main Replacement Programs

Inaccurate and outdated mapping of features in gas mains can lead to third party damage, specifically when there are unmapped stubs, unknown connections to the main, or if there is no working tracer wire. In this webinar, attendees will learn how live gas main CCTV improves safety and efficiency during construction and main replacement by enabling crews to pinpoint and mark out the exact location of the main and all pipeline features, even those not traceable by traditional locating methods. 

December 16, 2020 at 1:00pm ET

Register here: https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_mFf3qPltRNqeNry0AU1IpQ

 


 

Past Events: 

VIRTUAL CONFERENCE – Utility Week Live (24-26 November 2020)

Utility Week Live is the UK’s leading utilities industry exhibition. This year, ULC showcased the Robotic Roadworks and Excavation System (RRES), a collaborative innovation project with SGN. Attendees were able to view RRES conducting underground scanning, removal of the road surface, soil excavation and more. Visitors to our virtual exhibit also engaged with our team to learn about ULC’s aerial services program, which is expanding to the UK in 2021. 

 

VIRTUAL CONFERENCE – Energy Networks Innovation Conference (8-9 December)

The ENIC Conference features an impressive line-up of gas and electricity innovation experts, all coming together to share the learning from over 60 projects. ULC joined SGN’s and Cadent’s Virtual Exhibits to showcase the Robotic Roadworks and Excavation System project and our CISBOT work in the UK. 

 

WEBINAR – Using Acoustic Sensors to Detect Cross Bores: Technology Update (Dec. 9)

Cross bores have been identified as one of the top safety risks throughout the gas utility industry. In partnership with two leading US gas distribution utilities, ULC Technologies has developed a means to detect the presence of a cross bore from within PE gas mains and services. Join this webinar to learn about the technology and see some results from the cross bore inspection pilot programs.

Under the Surface of CISBOT: A Look Behind-the-Scenes of Commercial Robotic Operations

Many who are familiar with our CISBOT work will recognize the set up in the field – our crews working at a small site with our ULC truck or eco-cabin parked and the robot deployed in the gas main.

Behind the delivery of these complex robotic operations are additional crews working behind-the-scenes every day, across the U.S. and the UK, to ensure that our CISBOT operation continues to run successfully and well into the future by evolving and improving our systems. This includes mechanical engineers, electrical engineers, electro-mechanical technicians, product managers, field training managers, operations leads, and others.

Here’s a glimpse at the work that goes on behind-the-scenes:

ULC and SGN Sponsor IGEM’s Scottish Section Charity Golf Day

ULC Robotics

Following a great day at IGEM’s Scottish Section Charity Golf Day on Friday 4th September, ULC is delighted to announce that over £1,500 has been raised for Prostate Cancer UK!

The fundraised total could not have been achieved without the help of the attendees, the ULC and SGN teams, and the hole sponsors, Flowstop Services Ltd, Honeywell, Gas Assessment and Training Centre Ltd., R2M Site Services Ltd, Teledyne Technologies Incorporated and Print & Digital Sourcing.

We would like to say a special thanks to the Royal Musselburgh Golf Course for hosting the day, along with the support of PGA Professional, Calum Smith.

Check out video highlights from the golf day here.

ULC Robotics Announces Acquisition by SPX Corporation

ULC Robotics

ULC will join the company’s Detection and Measurement segment focused on location and inspection technologies

HAUPPAUGE, N.Y., Sept. 2, 2020ULC Robotics, a pioneer in Robotics-as-a-Service (RaaS) solutions and technology development for the energy, utility and industrial markets, today announced that the company has been acquired by SPX Corporation, a supplier of highly engineered products and technologies, holding leadership positions in the HVAC, detection and measurement, and engineered solutions markets. ULC will join the Detection and Measurement segment of SPX which will contribute to ULC’S overall growth as a business and better position the company for product commercialization.

“We are delighted to join the SPX family and look forward to the continued growth of ULC Robotics in this exciting new phase,” said Gregory Penza, CEO and founder of ULC Robotics. “SPX’s extensive resources, expertise at commercializing new products and dedication to growing its Location and Inspection portfolio create attractive opportunities for ULC’s employees and customers alike.”

SPX will support ULC in product commercialization and market development of inspection technologies. The addition of ULC Robotics will round out SPX Corporation’s Detection and Measurement segment, which encompasses businesses focused on underground locators and inspection equipment, fare collection systems, and communication technologies products.

“We are excited to welcome the ULC Robotics team to SPX,” said Gene Lowe, President and CEO of SPX Corporation. “ULC’s Robotics-as-a-Service business is a strong complement to SPX’s world-class suite of solutions for the location, inspection and maintenance of underground infrastructure; and, the addition of ULC’s R&D business further enhances SPX’s capacity to develop advanced technology solutions for customers across our platforms.”

“Becoming a part of the SPX team will support ULC’s ongoing commitment to develop and deploy advanced technology for energy and utility companies around the globe,” said Robert Kodadek, President of ULC Robotics. “The future of ULC has become even stronger through this partnership.”

More information can be found in the SPX Corporation press release: www.spx.com/investor-relations/financial-news-releases.

EC Mergers & Acquisitions acted as the exclusive financial advisor to ULC Robotics.

 

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