Robotics-as-a-Service & Technology Deployment

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

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.


ULC Robotics

About ULC Robotics

ULC Robotics is a leader in developing and deploying innovative robotic technology and processes that help pipeline operators and energy companies repair, inspect and assess their infrastructure. Our team of engineers, machinists, project managers, field technicians and support staff work daily to find solutions to challenging energy industry problems.

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