One Size Fits All?

Out of sight and out of mind? At our peril… Water infrastructure systems are vital to the health and development of communities everywhere. Yet, while access to safe drinking water remains a pipe dream in many places on the planet, here in the developed world, where we often take our potable water supplies for granted, it’s a crumbling pipe reality.

In the USA, The EPA estimates that 40 percent of water pipe systems serving 100,000 people or more are at least 40 years old. Gas, sewer and petrochemical infrastructures are all similarly aging.

All of which adds to already significant challenges for engineers designing new pipe systems to carry material (water, chemicals, gas or other) from one location to another. Why? Because — in addition to variations in terrain, as well as natural and man-made obstacles — such projects are, in a world of skyrocketing infrastructure renewal demands, ultimately driven by cost considerations. And keeping costs down usually means taking the path of least resistance. Although there may be gains to be had from efficient construction and material transport savings, minimizing costs often means avoiding fully anticipating ongoing maintenance and inspection needs — especially 40 years down the road. And even where new designs are specifically tailored to simplify future upkeep, many older systems incorporate features that make remote access — today’s most cost-effective approach for inspection and tooling interventions — seemingly impossible.  

Changing pipe diameters, bends, vertical sections, physical damage resulting from external factors… There’s plenty to worry about, and millions of miles of potential problems in the pipeline.

So what to do when old pipe systems require inspection, and basic sewer robots aren’t up to the job?  Most likely answer: design a custom system. Now, unless you’re a large international company with a big budget, that probably doesn’t sound like an affordable option, right? But the fact is, it may well be. The value of Inuktun’s uniquely configurable multi-mission technology is precisely that it allows us to develop special-purposed remote inspection or tooling robots quickly and economically. For over 25 years we’ve been designing systems that can operate in some of the most challenging environments anywhere. And our focus on modularity has produced a “toolbox” of robotic components that can be reconfigured to meet almost any remote operation challenge. Think Lego on steroids, or industrial Meccano. Whether you’re looking to build it yourself or have Inuktun’s experts create a system based on your specific requirements, the component bits and pieces are probably already on the shelf.

Watch “The Art & Science of Inuktun” to see our modular, multi-mission technology in action.