Kenyon Sees Success With Camera Van

Sewer inspection system improves New York contractor’s profitability and productivity.
Kenyon Sees Success With Camera Van
Kenyon Pipeline Inspection CCTV operator Todd Kuklinski launches a RapidView IBAK inspection camera into a municipal sewer main.

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In the municipal sewer cleaning industry, where profitability — and repeat business — often depends on meeting daily linear-foot goals for cleaning and inspecting lines, uptime and efficiency are highly prized commodities. That explains exactly why Kenyon Pipeline Inspection invested more than $250,000 in a pipeline inspection truck outfitted by RapidView IBAK.

Based in Queensbury, New York, KPI offers a wide range of services throughout New England, ranging from pipeline inspections to cured-in-place pipe lining, to cleaning sewer lines with its Vactor and Vac-Con combination vacuum trucks. And more often than not, the IBAK camera system is instrumental in making things happen — a go-to tool that’s almost as reliable as a sunrise, says Jake Kenyon, who owns the company with his brother, Josh.

“It’s a very durable camera,” Kenyon says. “The fact that it almost never breaks down is critical to keeping jobs profitable. We once went several years without any repairs. That’s key, because repairs can take at least a week, and if you’re not working, you’re losing money — zero revenue, only overhead. The cost of downtime and repairs can accumulate very quickly.”

A four-year contract to inspect and clean roughly 200,000 feet — about 35 miles — of sanitary and stormwater sewers in the city of West Springfield, Massachusetts, underscored the value of the IBAK system. For starters, the contract was renewable every year, based on KPI’s performance, so getting the work finished on time was critical to getting approval for the next year of work, Kenyon says.

“We didn’t have any breakdowns or loss of time,” he notes. “We went to work each day and the IBAK worked every day. And the city renewed our contract every year.”
Moreover, the project included cleaning and inspecting pipes of various diameters. “Every line section was a different size. We’d go from, say, 8-inch to 12-inch, to 24-inch and back to 8-inch again,” he explains. “Then there were crosslines going from catch basin to catch basin.”

With some camera systems, different pipe diameters require technicians to constantly haul the camera out of a line and change to larger or smaller crawler wheels to keep it in the center of the different-size lines. But the T76 features an optional remote-controlled elevator that raises and lowers the camera head as needed to remain centered in pipes and, in some cases, keep it above the water line. “That’s a big time-saver,” Kenyon points out. “It really helps our productivity if we don’t have to keep changing out wheels.”

The elevator feature saves even more time because it can lower the camera far enough for it to clear obstructions, such as a protruding service or tree roots, for example. “We can collapse the elevator tight to the crawler and sneak underneath,” Kenyon explains. If not for that feature, an obstruction would force crews to reel the unit back to the truck, then go to the next downstream manhole, set up and perform the inspection in reverse (upstream). That would typically take about 15 minutes, possibly more under certain circumstances, he says.

The system, built out on a Ford E-350 chassis with a 12-foot box body made by Bay Bridge Manufacturing, features an Orion camera head and a T76 wheeled crawler. It’s designed for pipelines ranging from 6 to 24 inches in diameter, but Kenyon says he’s pushed it “well beyond” even 48-inch-diameter pipes. “It may not quite center itself, but it still provides enough light to provide good picture quality,” he notes.

Other T76 features include zero-radius steering, automatic tilt compensation and a folding, two-axis rear connector. “The automatic tilt compensation is great because it helps prevent the crawler from tipping over,” Kenyon says. “Tip-overs can damage the camera because we have to pull it back out of the pipe. It can  also get lodged in the line, which sometimes requires us to dig it out in order to remove it.”

Kenyon also likes the smart cable reel system, which automatically synchronizes the crawler speed with the speed at which the cable is getting reeled in. That keeps constant tension on the cable, which prevents the crawler from running over the cable and possibly creating a kink. He also likes the winch that’s built into the reel, because it allows technicians to raise and lower the tractor and camera without setting up a tripod, he says.

A fully outfitted IBAK truck and camera system represents a considerable investment, especially for KPI, which is still a relative newcomer to the industry, founded in 2011. But Kenyon points out that the company has purchased less-expensive camera systems, but typically within the first year, the cost of ownership — things such repairs, maintenance and downtime — has exceeded the cost of an IBAK system.

“We spend a lot of time trying to figure out what the best equipment is — it’s a lot of trial and error,” Kenyon says. “But you really do get what you pay for.”


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