Reinstating Lined Pipes With Dancutter Machines Saves Time on the Job

Robotic cutters open the door to profitable stack-pipe lining for Florida contractor

Reinstating Lined Pipes With Dancutter Machines Saves Time on the Job

 Loren Wilson, operations manager for Pipelining Technologies in West Palm Beach, Florida, stands behind four of the company’s Dancutter DC Super Flex robotic cutting machines.

Interested in Relining/Rehab?

Get Relining/Rehab articles, news and videos right in your inbox! Sign up now.

Relining/Rehab + Get Alerts

In West Palm Beach, Florida, there’s a lucrative market for lining aging cast iron stack pipes in condominium buildings.

For years, Pipelining Technologies wanted to tap into this niche market but couldn’t — until it invested in a Dancutter robotic reinstatement machine in 2012.

Now the company, which was established by Michael Wilson in 1984 and focuses on trenchless pipeline rehabilitation, owns five Dancutter machines — all DC Super Flex models. And it gets about half of its revenue from lining vertical stack pipes, which amounts to millions of dollars in annual revenue, says Loren Wilson, Michael’s son and the company’s operations manager.

“It definitely was a game-changer,” Wilson says. “We couldn’t have entered the vertical-stack market without the Dancutter machines.”

The company, which employs 40 people and serves customers throughout southeastern Florida, didn’t line stack pipes before it bought the Dancutter machines because the process was too inefficient. Crew members could use tools to reinstate the stack pipes, but that typically would require pulling a toilet and P-trap in each condo unit, inserting the mechanical tool, reinstating the connection, and then resetting the trap and toilet.

“That process could take anywhere from two to three days,” Wilson says, noting that a typical condo unit that the company works on requires 25 to 50 reinstatements, depending on how tall the building is. “But now we can do it in three to four hours. In fact, if we’re reinstating just 2-inch-diameter drainlines, it might take as little as two hours. We just go on the roof and start from the top and work our way down. The robotic Dancutters drastically improve our productivity.”


Pipelining Technologies does mostly commercial work centered around condominium buildings, but the company also lines sewer laterals — and even interior pipes connected to the laterals — in residential homes.

“We line the whole system, except for tub, shower and sink waste lines, and the Dancutter definitely makes it possible to do that efficiently because the main trunk line in a house will have five to seven reinstatements,” Wilson says.

The company used to only line the lateral to keep things affordable for customers. But the cast iron pipes in the rest of the home are the same age as the lateral, and customers would get angry when they encountered problems with those pipes later on, Wilson notes.

“So we started to offer whole-house lining as an option,” he says.

Nonetheless, the company primarily uses the Dancutter machines on pipe lining projects in condominium buildings. Wilson estimates that the company performs between 3,000 to 5,000 liner reinstatements a year.

“We just finished a project where we lined 5,850 feet of vertical stacks — 117 stack pipes in all, with a total of 1,170 reinstatements,” he says. “It took us about five months to complete the project and the Dancutters were invaluable.”

To line pipes, the company relies on two inversion drums made by Perma-Liner Industries and Sacpro AB; T-liners made by Repiper AB; and liners from RSM Lining Supplies Ltd., MaxLiner USA, Hammerhead Technologies and Brawo Systems. To inspect vertical stack pipes, the company primarily uses Agilios push cameras from IPEK International GmbH.

The pneumatic machines are designed to work in cast iron, steel, PVC and concrete pipes from 3 to 6 inches in diameter and to negotiate 45- and 90-degree pipe bends. Features include a stainless steel alloy cutting head that can rotate 360 degrees, a 12-inch color monitor built into the lid of the control panel, an 82- or 164-foot-long hose and a spray nozzle for cleaning the camera lens.

Pipelining Technologies uses Viper air compressors from Vanair to power the Dancutters. 


Wilson says the Dancutter machines are very user-friendly. They’re basically operated with two joysticks on a frame-mounted control box, one that controls forward and reverse motions and another that controls left/right and up/down movement. Similar to playing a video game, Wilson says.

To properly train technicians, the company has pipe systems set up in a warehouse where technicians can practice and learn how to operate the machines.

“If you overcut while reinstating connections, you can damage the pipe and the liner,” Wilson says. “So we like our guys to get in a lot of practice time before letting them do reinstatements in real-world situations.”

The machines are durable and reliable. Even if one breaks down, which happens occasionally because of the rugged work environment, the company owns three back-up replacement “arms” (extensions that hold the cutting tool) that are easily replaced, Wilson says.

“We just swap out the broken arm with a new one and our repair technician takes the broken one back to the shop to fix it,” he explains. “You can swap out an arm in only a few minutes — there’s just three screws, four air hoses and a wiring harness to remove.”


Wilson says the company paid about $60,000 for each machine. But the Dancutters have been an excellent investment for the company, especially since they enabled access to a booming and lucrative market niche.

“For sure, they’ve provided a good return on investment,” Wilson says. “There are a lot of projects we’d never be able to tackle without the Dancutters. They’re ideal for the kind of work we do.”


Comments on this site are submitted by users and are not endorsed by nor do they reflect the views or opinions of COLE Publishing, Inc. Comments are moderated before being posted.