Robotics-as-a-Service & Technology Deployment

ULC’s Inspection and Maintenance Technologies Showcasing at No Dig Live 2021

ULC Robotics

Our UK team are set up to showcase our pipeline inspection and maintenance cameras and crawler systems, and discuss our latest revolutionary innovation, The Robotic Roadworks and Excavation System (RRES) on outdoor stand 57 at No Dig Live 2021.

Delivering detailed visual inspection and mapping data inside pipelines from a single excavation, the M1 Inspection Crawler, VGC Crawlers, and the PRX250 are deployed for the gas industry to support project planning, pre-rehabilitation mapping, and identify and locate internal features. Our team is set to conduct daily demonstrations of the technologies in action throughout the event.

With upcoming RRES field trials in the UK set for this year, our experts will also be on hand to discuss RRES, which was co-developed by ULC Technologies and SGN to replace conventional excavation methods by using below ground sensing, artificial intelligence, and machine learning to conduct an autonomous end-to-end excavation and reinstatement process.

The robotic system has already received the 2021 RBR50 award in the Application & Market Innovation class for utilities, and has been shortlisted for the ‘Innovative Product’ award at the UKSTT Awards which is taking place during No Dig Live 2021.

“I am delighted that we will be attending the event to showcase our pipeline inspection crawlers and cameras to the trenchless industry, as well as discuss the potential in expanding the capabilities of the current RRES platform,” said David McLeod, Head of Business Development at ULC. “We will be demonstrating our crawlers and talking to event delegates about the current RRES system, and the opportunities in developing new tooling and use cases for the platform to overcome challenges across multiple industries.”

If you would like to set up a meeting with our team, please contact: alexandra.pender@spx.com

ULC Robotics Supporting IGEM Scottish Section Charity Golf Day

ULC Robotics

We’re excited to be returning to the fairways of the Royal Musselburgh Golf Club on 10 September for IGEM’s Scottish Section Charity Golf Day! All funds raised from the 2021 event will be going towards SAMH, the Scottish Association of Mental Health, which provides vital services across Scotland surrounding mental health support and advice.

In 2020, ULC Robotics and SGN were the main sponsors of the event, which saw 50 avid golfers take to the course for an 18-hole competition and networking day. Thanks to sponsorship and donations on the day from companies across the industry, the event raised over £1500 for Prostate Cancer.

This year, the golf day will have different tiers of company sponsorship opportunities available for the day – check out the sponsorship packages available on IGEM’s website here.

Interested in attending? Check out the highlights video from last year’s event below ⤵

cross bore detection

ULC’s X-ID Cross Bore Detection Technology Can Further Reduce Risks During Inspection Programs

ULC Robotics

Utilizing Acoustic Technology to Inspect Inaccessible Sewer Laterals

Cross bores have been identified as a high-level risk to the system integrity of utilities, creating the need for large scale sewer lateral inspection programs to identify them. However, conventional inspection programs typically access an estimated 70-90% of legacy cross bores*, leaving behind thousands of uninspected sewer laterals which can leave significant risks to homes and businesses. Through the deployment of our patent pending ULC X-ID Sensor technology, we can now return to these locations to inspect for cross bores from within the live gas main or service lines, eliminating the need to dig up the roadway or paved driveways at customers’ homes.

Dirt and debris, root intrusion, P-traps, collapsed pipe, offsets or other obstacles are some of the reasons why traditional inspections have been unsuccessful. ULC’s X-ID acoustic signal can surpass root intrusion and other common sewer pipe obstacles to begin clearing the large backlog of left behind cross bore inspections.

More about our cutting edge X-ID technology can be found here, or contact our team to discuss how we can work together.

*Percentage of cross bores accessed by conventional inspection programs identified through conversations with utility customers

gas-industry-awards-ulc-company-of-the-year

ULC Named “Company of the Year” at UK Gas Industry Awards 2021

ULC Robotics

We are delighted to announce that ULC Robotics came out on top at the prestigious Gas Industry Awards ceremony after being named “Company of the Year” by the Institution of Gas Engineers & Managers (IGEM) and the Energy and Utilities Alliance (EUA) for the first time ever.

For over 20 years, the Gas Industry Awards has recognised the gas industry’s most innovative and dedicated companies and individuals. The award ceremony identified the achievements of members and celebrated the best of the best across the industry. The winners of this year’s awards were named at the ceremony on 18 May which, for the first time in its history, was a virtual event due to COVID-19.

It is a massive honour for ULC to have been recognised for our innovative contributions in the UK gas industry since 2013, particularly alongside strong industry players. Our journey since 2013 has involved the deployment of CISBOT to remediate and repair over 120km of cast iron gas mains on Cadent and SGN’s networks around the UK with zero interruptions to customers’ gas supplies, the introduction of solar-panelled eco-cabins offering zero carbon emissions on site, as well as the introduction of 24 hour working to reduce highway possession.

We’ve also witnessed strong collaboration with the UK’s gas networks, including the development of new technologies and R&D concepts such as the revolutionary Robotic Roadworks and Excavation System (RRES) which was developed in partnership with SGN.

Thank you to all of our employees across the company, past and present, who have made this achievement possible.

For a full list of award recipients during the ceremony, check out the IGEM website. 

 

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/

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