Thames Water uses Eva, Artec’s 3D scanner, to help prevent water leaks
The UK’S largest water and wastewater service provider decided upon 3D scanning at their R&D facility to help validate their non-destructive testing process.
The Goal: To 3D scan selected segments of large diameter ferrous water mains to create precise 3D models and use these to determine wall thickness variations across the pipe surface.
Thames Water is the UK’s largest water and wastewater services providers with over 15 million customers. As part of their business they deliver an average of 2,600m litres of drinking water every day. In many areas of London, Thames Water’s cast iron water mains are among the oldest in the UK, and many of them are wearing out. Over the past 15 years, their staff have been working hard to replace the smaller distribution mains, but now the larger trunk mains are of growing concern. A burst in just one of the trunk mains can leave thousands of customers without water, cause major flooding and disrupt transport routes.
Innovation to assess the condition of UK’s oldest cast iron pipes
Dr Tim Evans, water network innovation manager, explains how new technology is paving the way for a more sustainable replacement approach. “It’s costly to replace pipes, so we need to prioritise the riskiest ones,” he said. “A big challenge with cast iron is that it corrodes unevenly and the corrosion is very hard to detect. Traditionally we’ve assessed the condition of a water main by cutting out a short length of pipe, sand-blasting it to remove the corrosion, then measuring the resulting craters by hand. But taking pipe cut-outs is disruptive for customers and road users, and expensive for Thames Water.”
To remove the need for pipe cut-outs Thames Water started to use non-destructive testing (NDT) technology, such as ultrasound. “It’s similar to pregnancy scans, except we’re looking for corrosion instead of babies!” says Dr Evans.
Surface scanners help Thames Water understand what different NDT tools can measure. For large pipes of over 18” diameter, a handheld scanner is needed, and Thames Water appraised market offerings inviting various suppliers to demonstrate their equipment. Artec Eva™ delivered the essential performance they required. After scanning a large pipe section, Thames Water concluded the Eva would offer the most cost effective option to meet their requirements. Following the purchase of an Eva™, Artec assisted the staff working with the scanner and training them in the use of the system. Thames Water also acquired additional software through which they can perform more detailed analysis of data from the Eva™.
Artec’s 3D scanning software
Artec Studio 14, the recently updated system software, has increased the robustness of making the mesh by improved texture tracking whilst recording data. It also uses more of the multi-core capability of the PC workstation used in the project so the raw data processing is completed in a significantly shorter time.
Comparing the models from before and after corrosion is removed from the pipe enables corrosion levels to be mapped to a good level of accuracy. At Thames Water, the corrosion mapping provided by the Eva™ will be used as a baseline against which the effectiveness of different non-destructive approaches can be gauged.
Read the complete case study: https://www.artec3d.com/cases/Thames-Water