Articles & Case Studies

SevernTrent Water and RedBox technology: proving polyethylene works

Posted: Monday 11th March 2013

Polyethylene pipe has had a bad press this year but RedBox is proving that it’s not polyethylene that leads to leaks, but poor jointing practices across the industry.

And now RedBox has been given the official nod for its role in improving PE pipe jointing: compulsory specification by Severn Trent Water to all contractors undertaking their capital programme.

The telemetry system – developed by asset integrity specialists ControlPoint – is winning hearts and minds across the industry and helping to prove that not all plastic pipes leak as soon as they are installed, contrary to news headlines earlier this year.

So impressed was Severn Trent Water Standards Team General Manager Paul Fisher that he has changed their Design Manual and the standards on their Design and Build contract to accommodate the innovation.

Alan Payne, Water Services General Manager for Severn Trent Water is enthusiastic about the technology, claiming that since its inception there has been a marked improvement in the quality of pipes.

He said: “On an annual basis at Severn Trent Water we are replacing over 300km of our water infrastructure network, with a particular focus on polyethylene pipes and electrofusion jointing. This volume means that we need to place an emphasis on the quality control of such procedures and this has long been a challenge in the industry.

“Over the past 18 months we have developed a mutual understanding with ControlPoint that has allowed us to work together in developing an operational asset integrity system. The RedBox is now common practice across our contract and has facilitated a tangible improvement in the installation quality of electrofusion joints.

“In order to trace this development, ControlPoint has introduced a ‘real time’ joint inspection team, which allows for the immediate analysis of all joints by a team of experts. On a monthly basis we have reviewed the findings with our contractors and the level of analysis has highlighted the need for training in certain areas. In providing the training through an independent third-party provider, ControlPoint has been able to fulfil our need for continuous improvement on top of the increased level of data capture.

“To highlight our support for the innovation, we have added the entire system to our specification and, as of October 1st 2012, the contractors on our internal capital programme are all using the new system. We will endeavour to maintain these standards and work towards a system that meets our ultimate expectation of setting the highest standards across our network.”

RedBox monitors the quality of joints before fusion takes place, increasing the quality of work and providing a better indication of the location of failed pipes. The system delivers evidence that it’s not the polyethylene product, rather the practice of installation, which leads to pipe failure. The telemetric technology consists of GSM, GPS and camera modules which are retro-fitted to electrofusion boxes and butt fusion machines. The Cyclops camera photographs the joint before the fusion takes place to show correct scraping, clamping and alignment.

The RedBox communications module automatically sends the jointing parameters and photographs to the JointManager website for viewing. These are then approved or sent for investigation – ensuring each joint is installed correctly, leading to a reduction in leakage, which has cost and time savings in the long term.

ControlPoint is a member of the Fusion Group.




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