Investing in a Laser Profiler Creates a One-Stop Shop

Profiling system helps Florida contractor better serve customers and generate more revenue

Investing in a Laser Profiler Creates a One-Stop Shop

Atlantic Pipe Services technician Chad Comis uses a winch to load the Rausch M-Series KS 135 laser profiler into a camera truck on a road-construction job site in Florida.

Ever since Allan Cagle founded Atlantic Pipe Services in 2017, he’s emphasized investments in new technology that expand the company’s services. A good example is the M-Series KS 135 laser-profiling robotic camera system made by RauschUSA.

The unit reflects two of Cagle’s core business philosophies. The first one centers on offering customers as many services as possible because they often prefer to do business with one go-to contractor who can perform a variety of jobs. The second is linked to the first: Why send customers to competitors when the technology needed to fulfill their needs is readily available?

“Initially, I wasn’t going to invest in a laser profiler,” says Cagle, president and co-owner of the company, based in Sanford in central Florida.

“But then we started getting calls asking if we did laser profiling. So I basically was giving away work to competitors. It’s much better to be a one-stop shop for your customers.”

So Cagle took the plunge in late 2017. It was a significant investment: roughly $260,000 for the entire package, outfitted by RauschUSA on a Ford F-550 with a 16-foot box body made by Dejana Truck and Utility Equipment. But since the purchase, the unit has more than justified the initial cost.

“First of all, we can charge a little more for laser profiling than we do for televised pipe inspections,” says Cagle, whose company inspects and cleans pipelines in central and northern Florida. Atlantic Pipe Services, which employs about 30 people, also does trenchless pipeline repair and rehab work, including pipe lining and spot repairs.

“Secondly, doing laser profiling opens up opportunities for more work with the same customers (primarily underground utility contractors). If you’re out on road (construction) jobs, cleaning, televising and profiling pipelines, there’s a pretty good chance those customers will also need repair work, using technology like mechanical joint seals and pressure grouting.”

Measuring pipe integrity

Laser profiling checks the integrity of newly installed pipelines before they go online, thus minimizing the chances for unforeseen pipe repairs or replacements down the road. “It checks for proper ovality — makes sure the pipe isn’t squashed or somehow stressed,” Cagle explains.

Florida regulations used to require contractors to profile both rigid and flexible pipe. But since 2017, only flexible pipes from 12 to 48 inches in diameter need such examinations, he notes.

The technology is complicated to explain. But in essence, the KS 135 uses two lasers, a camera and a sophisticated software system made by POSM Software to create a geometric profile of pipe interiors. RauschUSA’s “spinning laser” technology scans the walls of a pipeline at a defined rate of speed, no more than 30 feet per minute.

After the profiling run concludes, the software instantly generates 2D and 3D graphs that show any deflections, the overall length and the inclination slope. This quick turnaround time from profiling completion to report generation is a key reason Cagle decided to buy the RauschUSA unit.

“You get the ovality report right then and there,” he says. “Our customers like that because if the report shows a pipe that’s out of ovality, they can address the problem right away. With some systems, it might take anywhere from a day or two to a week to get that report.

“Contractors want to be productive — time is money. All laser profilers work well, but at the end of the day, contractors want to save time and money and improve productivity out in the field.”

Double-threat capabilities

The KS 135 does conventional inspections as well as profiling. Typically, the camera does a televised run in one direction, then profiles the pipe as it’s pulled back to the starting point. That provides another competitive advantage because other laser-profiling technologies require more time to do the same thing. They also require confined-space entry, typically inside a manhole, Cagle says.

“With the laser head built right into the head of the camera, there’s basically fewer steps involved than with a ring laser. After you televise the pipe run and measure the tolerances on pipe-joint gaps, you turn out the camera light and turn on the laser. As you retrieve the camera, you’re laser-profiling on the way back. You’re basically performing two types of inspections without any additional setup.”

Moreover, the unit is durable, well engineered and easy to use. Cagle estimates that a camera operator who’s already experienced in doing televised inspections could easily become proficient at laser profiling in two to three weeks. He also gives RauschUSA high marks for technical support and customer service.

Cagle is no stranger to investing in advanced technology, which he says is a cornerstone of the company’s success. The company also owns two Vactor 2100 Plus combination sewer vac trucks; five Vacall AllJetVac combination sewer vac trucks, each equipped with an AllClean water recycling package; six other camera trucks, built out by Envirosight on Ford F-550 four-wheel-drive trucks with ROVVER X (Envirosight) robotic cameras; push cameras made by both Envirosight and RauschUSA; and grouting pumps made by Graco and Avanti International, a CIPP lining system from Infrastructure Repair Systems and mechanical join seals from HydraTech Engineered Products.

As such, Cagle recognizes a good investment when he sees it. He’s been so happy with the KS 135 unit that he’s investing in another one, which he expects to take delivery of this summer. “It’s the Cadillac of laser profilers.”


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