Robot Proves to be Versatile Tool for Contractor

From cutting and cleaning to plugging and connecting, the multi-function unit provides a lot of value for Washington state’s Trenchless Pipe Repairs

Robot Proves to be Versatile Tool for Contractor

Some of the crew at Trenchless Pipe Repairs with the Talpa FSR 2060 machine from Schwalm Robotic.

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Some people complain about robotics because they take the place of humans. Don’t count Nick Patrick among them.

The owner of Trenchless Pipe Repairs in suburban Tacoma, Washington, recently purchased a multi-tasking Talpa FSR 2060 machine from Schwalm Robotic that, among other things, does cutting and cleaning inside sewer lines ranging from 8 to 24 inches in diameter.

Patrick lauds the unit for its versatility. The unit can mill concrete, do abrasive cutting, clean drainlines with either specialized brushes or a high-pressure water jet, install lateral-connection liners while reinstating laterals after pipe lining is completed, and perform video inspections.

“It can cut anything you need out of a pipe, including concrete or a failed pipe liner,” Patrick says. “In fact, we’ve successfully cut out more than 1,000 feet of concrete in 8- to 15-inch-diameter pipe.”

“When there’s an emergency (because of a concrete blockage), municipalities no longer need to send out crews with an auger and a high-pressure water jetter,” he adds. “Instead, they call me. Some excavations (to eliminate blockages) can cost municipalities hundreds of thousands of dollars because of the depth of the sewer lines and the (congested) locations. But we can do it all from above ground and watch everything the robot is doing. I can do (sewer) cleaning and cutting and see it work. Otherwise we’d have to clean the line, then send a robotic camera down, maybe have to clean it again, send the robotic camera back down, and so forth.”

Patrick even discovered another use for the unit: Installing rubber plugs that seal unused laterals and prevent dirt and debris from entering sewer mains.

“I wanted something that could produce more than just one avenue of revenue,” he says. “When I tested the Schwalm robot, I saw that we could use it as a building block — use it as a cutter to reinstate laterals, plus add attachments to do other kinds of cutting and installations. So far, the Schwalm has increased our revenue by about 60 percent.”

But what happens when the building boom in Seattle subsides?

“I might lose out on all that revenue from cutting concrete, but we’ll still cut out liners, tiebacks shot through mains and protruding laterals,” Patrick says. “We’ll also use it to install plugs to seal off leaking laterals. This robot does so many things that it’ll stay busy year-round.”

Read more about Trenchless Pipe Repairs in this full profile featured in the August 2017 issue of Cleaner magazine.


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