Optimizing Your Inspection Vehicle

Here are items you should consider to make the most effective use out of a vehicle-mounted sewer inspection system

Optimizing Your Inspection Vehicle

A technician operates a camera (Subsite Electronics) during a post-work CCTV inspection on a job site.

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While there’s no shortage of sewer inspection technologies on today’s market, CCTV remains a gold standard in assessing pipes of all kinds. But what should you consider to make the most effective use out of a vehicle-mounted sewer inspection system?

In addition to seeking out a reliable and durable solution for inspections, utilities and contractors most often choose vehicle-mounted systems for their speed, versatility, cost-effectiveness and real-time results. And since operators are looking to conduct long inspections with a capable reel, a long cable with high abrasion resistance and high tensile strength is crucial.

“Contractors need to know that their equipment will perform as needed when they go out on a job site,” says Patrick Iyonsi, utility inspection systems product manager for Subsite Electronics. “Having reliable, durable equipment that’ll get the job done with little to no downtime is essential, as inspectors are only getting paid while inspecting.”

Cable length and overall strength remain top priorities for customers, according to Iyonsi, as it allows them to set up at a single location and inspect for long periods of time without having to tear down and move locations.

“Inspectors can also decrease their time on the job by gaining efficiencies during setup and teardown,” he says. “If the tractor is capable, they can select freewheel and utilize the cable winch to efficiently retract the equipment. This allows them to conduct more inspections in less time which leads to more profits for the customers.”

With operators facing challenging conditions both in the pipe and in the immediate environment where an inspection is taking place, a system’s ruggedness and ergonomics make a big difference in how smoothly the job goes. And with a seemingly unending slate of jobs to tackle, it’s important to ensure you have a CCTV system that allows you to traverse tough jobs from the comfort of a climate-controlled vehicle with simple controls.

“For example, having a tractor with thick side plates and a freewheel system, a sealed and durable camera, a cable with a high tensile strength and high abrasion resistance saves additional time needed to complete an inspection,” says Iyonsi. “Customers can get in and complete the inspection with the peace of mind of knowing their investment is returned at the end of the day.”

While mainline systems allow operators to inspect over 2,000 feet of pipe in one pass, problems like I&I aren’t unique to mainline runs, which is why a quality lateral launch system is also key. After all, the first step in I&I mitigation is identifying there’s an issue. 

“Inflow from laterals to the mainline plays an important part in understanding total flow rates, and because most laterals are privately held and nonmarkable by utility locators, infiltration in a lateral can be a common occurrence,” says Iyonsi.

In addition to all the above, utilities or contractors looking into CCTV inspection will want a system that has multiple transporter/camera configurations, as it’s necessary to have the ability to configure your tractor and camera to inspect varying pipe sizes and types.

Choosing a transporter and camera

The camera functions needed by an operator depend greatly on the type of inspection being performed, according to Iyonsi. For instance, in a lateral inspection, it’s important to know if the camera is self-leveling, the size of the camera head, and key features like pan-and-tilt to increase your chances of inspecting multiple laterals.

Meanwhile, in mainlines, inspectors need to pay attention to the overall camera view capabilities. In most cases, that means seeking out a camera that has 360-degree viewing capabilities that allow the operator to successfully complete the inspection.

“Regardless of inspection type, it’s important for the camera to be durable and sealed to endure a submerged environment. Additionally, features like lighting, inclination, laser crack measurement and more can be selected and customized based on the inspection being performed.”

Similarly, there are many features to consider for tractors that also depend on the type of inspection being performed. “With unknown pipe conditions, paying attention to the tractor’s motors and the cable pulling the tractor through these treacherous conditions is key to successfully completing an inspection,” says Iyonsi. “Subsite’s TranStar tractor is powered by two 90-watt motors that allow the tractor to traverse various pipe conditions. Paired with Subsite’s durable cable system — with its 5,800-foot-pound tensile strength and the freewheel system — you’ll have the ability to retrieve your inspection equipment quickly with ease.”

Using the system

As far as setup, when an inspector arrives at a job site, one of the first things to do is position the vehicle in accordance with local government regulations so as not to impede traffic, but still remain close enough for a good inspection. At that point, the inspector should confirm the parameters of the pipe and configure the equipment accordingly.

“Once the configuration is complete, connect the cable to the camera and transporter. At this point, cautiously insert the equipment into the pipe to begin the inspection and start getting paid.”

After you’re done with your inspections, extend the life of your CCTV equipment by performing routine maintenance. “For utility inspection equipment, the main point of focus is cleanliness. After an inspection is completed, it is always important to make sure the equipment is cleaned and stowed in the appropriate manner. It is best practice to refer to the operator’s manual for other maintenance points.”

As utility inspection systems are a significant investment, it’s also of utmost importance to establish a good relationship with the manufacturer or distributor of a CCTV inspection vehicle for future service.

“When purchasing an inspection vehicle, you want to make sure you’re not just purchasing the equipment, but that you are aware of the manufacturer’s warranties,” says Iyonsi. “And if applicable, the nearest service locations and parts centers. These are all key resources that will assist you in keeping your equipment running for long periods of time.”

Lastly, when it comes to optimizing your inspections, you should always consult with your local utility inspection dealer, according to Iyonsi. “They know the industry and its different segments to help make sure the inspection vehicle is set up according to the work that will be performed. The inspection dealers are most familiar with the local infrastructure and the obstacles that might be faced. They are the experts when it comes to configuring utility inspection equipment to optimize performance.”


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