In the world of trenchless pipe rehabilitation, there are two main specialties: large-diameter pipes (over 14-inches) and small-diameter pipes (under 14-inches). While you might assume that the real money is in large-diameter jobs, don’t underestimate the incredible opportunities and benefits that accompany small-diameter pipe repair!
Pipe Rehab Is In High Demand
America’s aging infrastructure has collided with sophisticated technology to play an enormous role in the current gold-rush era of pipe restoration. With the awareness of and demand for pipe repair at an all-time high, smart equipment has enabled quicker upstarts and prompted a younger workforce to go after a stake in this multi-billion dollar industry. The question is, are these high-tech systems that are rumored to ooze profits reserved only for the big guys with the big pipes? No! Small-diameter CIPP (cured-in-place pipe) has it’s very own arsenal of advanced techniques and equipment.
Let’s think about specialty strategizing for a minute. With larger pipes come bigger equipment, bigger materials, bigger price tags, and oftentimes bigger headaches. While we fully respect and support this specialty and recognize that the potential for huge earnings is definitely there, it’s hard to overlook the heavy expenditure needed to get a contractor up and running.
While it might not be as heavy as large diameter, the investment and commitment for small-diameter pipe rehab is no joke. To deliver truly exceptional, consistent service, you have to do your homework. If you’re already in the plumbing industry this might not be too far of a leap. But if you’ve been working in a completely different field, this will require deep contemplation along with financial planning and possibly years of trade practice. No matter your background, getting proper training (certification/licensing where required) and investing in quality equipment are the keys to overall success.
Invest In Smart Equipment
What is “smart” equipment? Is it like your smartphone? Yes, but not exactly. Smart equipment is a product or system that can enhance your services, bring better connectivity, save time, offer more consistency, and essentially help your company reach a new level. Think about your 1990’s flip phone compared to the one you carry today. Do you think you can do a bit more with today’s phone than your 1990s phone? The power of today’s basic phones is greater than the computers that NASA used to facilitate the first moon landing. Mind blowing, right? Well, yesterday’s pipelining equipment is starting to look like an old flip phone. Fortunately, advanced technology has rendered improved choices for pipe repair. Let’s talk about two of our favorite CIPP smart buys.
UV Light Curing
The curing process is a crucial component in trenchless pipe rehab. Curing is the way the liner hardens into a new “pipe.” Knowing which cure is ideal for the original pipe material, the installation environment, and the lining products are all important factors. So, when UV (ultra-violet) light curing started appearing several years ago, contractors’ interest piqued.
UV light curing promises faster installation times and less waste. Since they won’t harden until hit with UV light, liners have an open-ended holding time before curing which lessens the panic mode that sets in once a liner is impregnated with standard epoxy resin. Flexible, unrushed working time may allow for better installation and liner success.
Some UV systems utilize a no-mix formula of vinyl-ester resin, leaving little to no waste, a big issue with other curing processes. One such system is from UVRelining, a Swedish company whose products are now available in North America. UVRelining offers several UV curing machines designed to service specific pipe size ranges and installation techniques.
A crowning achievement of the UVRelining systems is their lighthead. The unique lighthead uses specialized LED light panels that have a lifespan of up to 100 operating hours. The light is so effective, it makes curing time at least five times (500%) faster than other cure types. The lighthead has exquisite flexibility which enables it to travel around bends and through transitions.
A hi-res camera is incorporated into the unit with a digital display that features real-time data. This makes inspecting liners easy for the operator and saves another step of reinspecting the liners with a separate camera system.
For its convenience and time-saving factors, along with enhanced data and improved eco-conscientiousness, UV curing gets our vote for one of the smartest additions for CIPP contractors.
Another major technological breakthrough is with pipe rehab robotics. Also known as reinstatement cutters, robotic systems expand service offerings and can take a small-diameter CIPP contractor to new levels.
While milling machines may have a lower price tag, robotic units work faster, more efficiently, and can do things millers can’t. Robotic systems are especially clutch when performing reinstatements and servicing today’s educated customers that want the complicated lines inside the building rehabbed, too.
Our favorite pipe rehab robotics brand is Dancutter. Made in Denmark, Dancutter works to make their pneumatic cutters simple to operate yet flexible enough to navigate multiple plumbing bends and diameter changes. The company prides itself on one-operator usability and superb handling.
Unlike other cutters, Dancutter robotic units offer 360° continuous head rotation. That flexible feature can save time and really come in handy in tight spots or hard-to-access areas. Since the built in hi-def camera is well lighted and clearly shows the operator what’s happening, there’s no need to run a separate inspection camera. Cutting bits and attachments for nearly every imaginable scenario (including failed liners and concrete removal) easily connect and do their jobs. There’s even a grabber attachment for reliably retrieving objects lodged inside pipes.
When it comes to robotic cutters, our research says there’s nothing that compares to the Dancutter SuperFlex for 3”-6” pipes, the MaxiFlex for 4”-12” pipes, and the affordable MiniBike for 2”-3” pipes.
Better Data And Contractor Assurance
Smart equipment such as UV curing and precision cutting systems can offer enhanced data. Depth/distance measurements and quality video recording are stored and relayed in real time. This data can be used to accurately document pre/post job conditions and complement customer reports. Smart data can also help protect the installer if there are questions or problems that pop up after the job is completed.
Small-Diameter Is A Smart Choice
Thanks to intelligently designed systems, small-diameter trenchless CIPP can be installed more quickly and reliably than ever. With advanced data, installation contractors are better protected and able to service a broader range of pipes, including the more intricate lines inside of buildings. Customers receive clearer information and can make more informed decisions.
Choosing small-diameter as your specialty means that you can offer services to homeowners, condominiums/apartments, businesses, and many commercial or industrial buildings. With smart systems, your team can perform more efficiently and reliably which saves your company time and increases profits. Whether you’re thinking about getting into CIPP or you’ve been installing cured-in-place pipe for years, consider adding smart equipment and excellent training to your company’s repertoire.
With the right equipment and training, small-diameter means BIG business!