Innovation From Concept to Commercialization
Field Deployment of Advanced Technology

CISBOT: 29,000 Joints and Counting

ULC Robotics

Since commercial work with large diameter CISBOT began in 2010, our team has remediated more than 29,000 joints – equivalating to over 65 miles of cast iron mains (16”+). ULC Robotics’ operations have scaled up considerably over the past few years and we now have a fleet of 15 robots working daily in New York, Boston, St. Louis, London and other areas of the US and UK.

By the end of 2020, ULC Robotics expects to have sealed an additional 40 miles of cast iron gas mains and we are building five additional robots to support increased demand in this technology.

CISBOT enables our customers to dramatically reduce the costs and timelines associated with upgrading or modernizing pipelines, while minimizing impact on customers and communities. Substantial financial benefits and reduced social and environmental disruption has allowed our utility customers to capitalize on CISBOT and make this technology part of approved rate cases.

We are continuing our dedication to environmentally responsible practices with the introduction of solar-powered operation stations. Currently deployed with Cadent Gas in the UK, these new stations enable the further reduction of carbon emissions and help our customer reach its net-zero environmental targets.

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/.

ULC Robotics Supports UK Decarbonization Goals with Advanced, Eco-Friendly Operation Stations

ULC Robotics

ULC Robotics, a leading Robotics-as-a-Service (RaaS) solutions provider, is expanding its ability to sustainably and safely deliver leading-edge technology to the energy industry.

“ULC Robotics are exploring the use of innovative solutions to improve our daily operations and make any adjustments necessary to support the country’s recent decarbonization goals,” said Graeme Cleeton, VP of UK Operations.

In collaboration with Boss Cabins and TAG Systems, ULC Robotics has created a new control center cabin for its UK CISBOT operations. CISBOT, short for Cast Iron Joint Sealing Robot, works within live gas mains to seal aging or leaking joints, extending their lifetime by fifty years. The robot is powered by a generator and is typically operated during a 12-hour window by a crew from within a box truck.

Working closely with Boss Cabins, market leader in welfare cabin design and manufacturing, ULC Robotics outlined a variety of safety and environmental concerns to help produce a distinctive, one-of-a-kind cabin to meet their unique needs.

“These container units will help us maintain our practice of providing environmentally sound, minimally disruptive services to our clients,” said Cleeton.

The newly built 20-foot mobile units have been furnished with solar panels, which are used to charge lithium-ion batteries during daylight hours. The batteries are then able to power the unit at night, enabling 24-hour operations. In the event that there is not enough light to charge the batteries adequately, the unit is equipped with an efficient, silent-run generator to provide back-up power. The eco-friendly dual-power solution mitigates any noise pollution and minimizes project emissions.

“We are delighted to have collaborated with ULC on this unique new cabin and helped to find solutions to the operational, safety and environmental issues raised,” said Tim Allan, Director at Boss Cabins. “The purpose-specific design will, we hope, enable ULC to work more effectively over longer periods with less disruption and minimal environmental impact.”

Each cabin is outfitted with a state-of-the-art security system, custom designed by Tag Systems, Europe’s leading manufacturer of wireless security equipment. The system includes high definition CCTV cameras, motion detectors, and an alarm linked to a security response team.

The first two units were delivered in January 2020 and installed in Sloane Square, London, at job sites for UK gas distribution network Cadent. The units have received praise from local government and have enabled ULC Robotics to celebrate their first carbon-neutral day on January 31st.

ULC Robotics and SGN Team Up to Build All-Electric Excavation Robot

ULC Robotics

US Robotics Firm and UK Gas Network Develop World’s First Robotic Roadworks and Excavation System to Transform Utility Excavation

One of the largest gas network companies in the UK has partnered with a world-leading robotics company to transform the most costly and disruptive job in the industry – excavation.

With its gas pipes buried underneath Britain’s roads and pavements, excavating in the road is essential to enable SGN to maintain and upgrade its network. However, this doesn’t come without associated safety implications as well as disruption to residents and road users. SGN is committed to reducing the impact of its essential work on the public and so the company is investing in ground-breaking technology to alleviate these issues.

“Because we operate 76,000km of underground pipelines in the UK and dig thousands of excavations every year, we recognize the need for smarter roadworks,” said John Richardson, Head of Innovation at SGN. “We’re leading the effort to change utility excavation by investing in the development of technology to address this global problem.”

The Robotic Roadworks and Excavation System (RRES) project combines a powerful industrial robot, an all-electric track drive system, below-ground locating sensors, artificial intelligence, machine vision, and new vacuum excavation methods for safer, faster autonomous roadworks.

The collaborative project between ULC Robotics and SGN, which is funded by UK energy regulator Ofgem, will reduce accidental damages to buried infrastructure, minimize carbon emissions and improve the safety and speed of utility excavation and construction.

“We are at the midway point of the project and in partnership with SGN we have been able to create the world’s first functional all-electric autonomous excavation robot,” said Ali Asmari, Ph.D, Program Manager at ULC Robotics. “There is a significant amount of work remaining, including the development of additional tools and support equipment, as well as testing and validating the robotic operation in different environments, but we have an outstanding team and are confident that the robot will be ready to work come 2021.”

The RRES is currently conducting autonomous operations, including cutting of the road surface and performing a patented vacuum excavation method.

“Progress on the development, learnings and outputs of the project have gone above and beyond our expectations,” said Richardson. “We see RRES as a platform that can expand to meet the needs of the global utility and construction industries.”

Initial field trials of RRES are scheduled to take place in 2020 on the SGN network.

CISBOT Travels Manchester Underground to Remediate Cadent Gas Network

ULC Robotics

Continuing their dedication to reliably delivering gas to 11 million homes and businesses, Cadent has expanded their robotic remediation work to the greater Manchester area.

Using CISBOT, ULC Robotics’ cast iron joint sealing robot, Cadent is working on a 263 meter section of 16” live gas main running beneath the Langley Road area in Salford. Originally selected due to a history of gas leaks, CISBOT is also being used to seal non-leaking joints within the main, negating the need for repeat work on this same pipe.

This is fantastic technology—a fast, efficient and non-disruptive way for us to check and seal joints at risk of failing as they age,” said Adam Hassall, Network Engineer at Cadent. “It’s essential work, reducing the risks of gas escapes and extending the life of gas mains relied on by hundreds of thousands of people for warmth.”

Over the course of one week, the robot will work quietly below ground to seal 50 joints and extend the life of the pipeline by an additional 50 years.

“Undoubtedly, the residents here are probably thinking, what are we doing?” said Graeme Cleeton, VP of UK Operations at ULC Robotics. “Because we are not impacting on them, we are not disturbing their gas supply and we are not digging excavations outside their property.”

Cadent has deployed a second CISBOT robot at Featherstall Road North in Oldham to operate within 299 meters of 18” pipe and seal 109 joints. Cadent has also identified an additional 4 kilometers of main in central Manchester for work in 2020.

To read the full story, visit Manchester Evening News.

ULC Robotics Finalist for Utility Week Partner of the Year

ULC Robotics

ULC Robotics was recognized for their work with Cadent and SGN, using CISBOT to remediate critical portions of their cast iron natural gas mains. The work took place in high-profile locations across the UK, including George Street in Edinburgh and Oxford Street in London.

The Utility Week Awards reward and celebrate outstanding performance and innovation across utilities. The winners of the Utility Week Awards will be announced on December 9th during a ceremony held at the Grosvenor House in London. For more information or to view the entire shortlist please visit the awards website.

ULC Robotics & SGN Celebrate Six Years with CISBOT

ULC Robotics

Since 2013, ULC Robotics has partnered with UK gas network SGN on a variety of projects designed to drive innovation and solve daily operational challenges through ground-breaking technologies.

Our partnership had led to the commercialization of our CISBOT technology in the UK, where robotic repairs for gas mains remediation is now business as usual. Using CISBOT, SGN has been able to successfully upgrade 44 kilometers of live natural gas mains, sealing more than 12,000 joints beneath some of Britain’s most iconic, highly-trafficked roads including George Street, Edinburgh and critical portions of their southern network.

Using CISBOT technology over the past six years has really revolutionized roadworks. Robotic technology reduces the need for multiple excavations and trenches, reduces disruption on the roads and saves time and money, which is excellent news for motorists, our customers, and the local community.” -John Richardson, Head of Innovation, SGN

Read the full press release here.

ULC Robotics to Develop Leak Detection & Repair Robot to Prevent Methane Emissions

ULC Robotics

ULC Robotics has been awarded a contract by the Department of Energy (DOE) to develop a prototype robotic system for inline leak detection and repair of live transmission and distribution natural gas mains. This Phase II award was conferred after ULC successfully completed a 10-month Phase I project to study inline leak detection, develop internal repair methods, and assess the feasibility of the robotic system.

“We are working to create a solution to quickly limit the methane emissions from leaks in natural gas pipelines and make pipelines safer,” says Aalap Shah, R&D Project Manager at ULC Robotics. “The robot will operate in pipelines that are not always readily accessible, such as pipeline below roadways or railways. By instituting temporary repairs pipeline operators will be able to maintain service and avoid loss of supply during critical periods.”

Traditionally, crews must be dispatched to perform bar-holing to pinpoint the location of a leak—a lengthy and labor-intensive process during which excessive methane may be released into the atmosphere. Conventional methods also require extensive excavation, which is costly, disrupts gas service to customers, and can cause traffic or public transit delays.

Using cutting-edge component technologies and the latest robotic design concepts, the robot will detect, locate, and classify leaks. Once identified, the robot will instantly deploy a rapid repair method to seal damaged areas and enable the pipeline to continue operating temporarily for up to two years, until permanent repairs can be made.

Because the robot will be able to perform repairs immediately and does not require traditional excavation, pipeline operators will see a significant reduction in O&M costs, as well as the amount of methane emissions being released into the environment.

After completing the project, ULC will focus on prototype improvements, pilot testing, and deployment within live transmission and distribution mains.

New York Technology Developer Names New President as Company Continues to Grow

ULC Robotics

Robert Kodadek Named President of ULC Robotics

ULC Robotics, a rapidly expanding Long Island-based technology firm serving the utility and energy markets, announced today that Robert Kodadek has been promoted to President of the company.

“There is extraordinary momentum underway within ULC Robotics and the industries that we serve,” said Kodadek. “I am incredibly proud of what we have already achieved, and excited to help lead the company to its next phase of innovation and growth.”

Prior to this appointment, Kodadek had served as Chief Technology Officer and was responsible for leading the company’s innovation and research and development efforts. In that role he oversaw a team of 40 employees comprised of mechanical and electrical engineers, sensor scientists, software and firmware developers, and project managers who design and develop robotic technologies to help utility and energy companies operate more efficiently.

Kodadek joined ULC Robotics in 2009 from Verified Identity Pass, where he acted as the Senior Director of Field Services & Engineering, managing the deployment of the company’s biometric enrollment and verification technology. Before Verified Identity Pass, he held several roles at Raytheon, an international defense and cybersecurity contractor.

“Rob has been instrumental to our success and rapid growth over the years,” said Gregory Penza, Founder and CEO of ULC Robotics. “He is uniquely qualified to lead our continued growth, expand into new markets, and further drive innovation to elevate the success of the company.”

ULC Robotics and Cadent Win UKSTT Energy & Communications Renovation Award

ULC Robotics

The United Kingdom Society of Trenchless Technology (UKSTT) recognized the achievements of ULC Robotics and Cadent at this year’s UKSTT Awards. The UKSTT Awards is a prestigious event that recognizes those working to advance innovation in trenchless technology.

The two companies received the Energy & Communication Renovation award for their natural gas mains rehabilitation work in the West End of London. ULC Robotics and Cadent had used CISBOT to remediate 1.3km of aging cast iron mains beneath Oxford Street, a high-profile location trafficked by 4 million people weekly. With just 12 excavations made, CISBOT renewed 357 joints under live conditions and extended the life of the critical pipeline which delivers gas to businesses and residents along the busy city street.

To read more about the project, click here.

ULC Robotics Highlights Benefits of AI in Offshore Wind Operations

ULC Robotics

Last week the Business Network for Offshore Wind hosted Big Data, AI, and Blockchain Event hosted by Business Network for Offshore Wind to highlight the benefits of digital innovation within the offshore wind industry.

Dr. Ali Asmari, Program Manager at ULC Robotics, was invited to speak on the topic of driving innovative technologies and processes to reduce O&M costs. Dr. Asmari delivered an in-depth explanation of how data influences decision-making and increases efficiencies, as well as the potential for unmanned aerial systems (UAS) to affordably capture, process, and report useful findings. Post-capture via UAS, he explained, the industry can enhance their data through the use of AI and Machine Learning for improved productivity, safer operations, and reduced environmental impact.

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