Sep 18, 2017

Inspection Gadgets

Pipeline inspection software reduces man-hours, increases efficiency & streamlines processes

Ace Pipe Cleaning offers sewer cleaning

Pipeline inspection software used with ArcGIS Online allows the sewer line cleaning company to review field data instantly.

Ace Pipe Cleaning Inc. (APC) began offering sewer line cleaning in Kansas City, Mo., in 1954. Now a subsidiary of Carylon Corp., APC is a full-service water, wastewater and storm water inspection, cleaning and trenchless rehabilitation company. Still headquartered in Kansas City, APC now has six additional offices that serve 13 states. In 2012, APC began using ITpipes pipeline inspection software for data collection on 10 to 15 trucks based from its headquarters. Impressed with the features of the data collection aspects of the software, APC expanded its ITpipes capabilities in 2016 to include automated syncing and integration with GIS and mapping systems. APC managed roughly 1.1 million ft of pipeline inspection in 2016 using ITpipes, saving the company man-hours and streamlining workflow efficiencies.

Inspection & Mapping

Using the latest CCTV equipment and reporting methods, APC provides a variety of services for sewer, storm and water line inspections. Its software applications must produce sophisticated, user-friendly reporting. APC set up syncing between mobile units and the office, eliminating the need to transfer hard drives and push media back and forth. With field work completed, uploaded inspections go to the cloud for office user access; this only requires internet access from the mobile unit. When the office user schedules work, those work orders are pushed via Sync into the mobile unit, creating an operator’s to-do list that is constantly updated, eliminating the need for a supervisor to create paper lists. This process update has provided easy management for inspection data collection, assignment and scheduling of crews, access to users for rehab or operations and maintenance planning needs.

Using inspection software tightly integrated with GIS and mapping has provided a measurable benefit to APC’s clients. Also notable are the internal efficiencies realized by reducing man-hours and streamlining processes. From the operator inspecting the pipe to the project manager finalizing a project file for a client, this saves APC time and improves return on investment (ROI).

Before using this setup, an operator would start a shift by checking the maps—often a large, printed map on a wall that was highlighted to show progress on the project—or holding a meeting or call to discuss the project with the team. Now the operator turns on the computer, opens the ITpipes app, and immediately sees a list of assets that need to be inspected. APC also has realized time savings by eliminating the possibility of duplicate inspections.

Because all the information about a project is available immediately and easily accessible, the operator does not make the mistake of repeating work that has already been done. Now that the data is digital, as soon as a sewer line has been inspected, the inspection is uploaded to the cloud and available to access instantly. Field supervisors can view the project on an office computer or even a smart phone, seeing what is happening in the field as it happens. Field supervisors also can create schedules for the team with a click in the software.

“In the past, time sheets were physically completed by operators and submitted at the end of the day,” said Joshua Lynch, data technician for APC. “A full-time employee devoted to data entry needed to enter the information into the system manually once the paper document made its way from the field to the office. Now, that full-time data entry employee can be used for other activities, and operators don’t spend time filling out time cards; operator activity is shown instantly in the inspection software.

Project Monitoring

Using the pipeline inspection software has allowed APC’s operations and project management teams to carefully monitor the progress of a project. For example, a field supervisor can see if an operator is only getting 1,000 ft of pipe cleaned because of an exceptionally dirty pipeline. The schedule can be changed to add additional crews, adjusting the timing of the project. Similarly, managers can see what each operator is doing across the city with up-to-the-minute accuracy. If a team is expected to clean 10 pipelines in a day, but only three were completed, the manager can see if something is slowing down the project and can address the issue in real time.

After an inspection is completed and uploaded, the client has access to the most up-to-date information. The client no longer needs to wait until the end of a project or make phone calls to see what progress has been made. Immediate access to this level of project detail assists city officials with planning. Clients can, with a single click from their map, access comprehensive inspection details provided by APC, including snapshots, videos, PDF plot reports of the pipe, severity rankings, and recommended repair or rehabilitation planning actions.

Because of the instant availability of the data and project progress, particularly on a long and involved project, clients can easily adjust their planning. If, for example, a pipeline is found during a cleaning project to be deteriorating to the risk of collapsing, APC and its clients can react immediately, changing the project to a rehabilitation project instead of continuing to clean a line that needs to be fixed.

The usage of ITpipes and ArcGIS Online has saved man-hours, increased efficiencies and streamlined processes for APC. The company can offer its clients instant access to the latest information about their projects. Automatically including every detail of the project in the final package to the customer gives APC a competitive edge. The company is currently using this setup in the Kansas City metropolitan area and Fort Worth, Texas, and is in the process of expanding the usage to its offices in St. Louis; Tulsa, Okla.; and San Antonio. 

About the author

Darrell Gadberry is CEO for Gadberry Consulting Inc. Gadberry can be reached at [email protected] or 817.600.2112.

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