Kicking off another innovation

December saw the kick off meeting for the latest innovation project between the industry partners and innovator network of the Energy Innovation Centre.

Gas Distribution Networks (GDNs) undertake excavations in the public highway, performing maintenance and repairs on buried pipe assets. In a bid to reduce disruption, ‘core and vac’ technology is implemented which allows them to significantly reduce the size of excavations. Inspection or repair of the pipe is then undertaken using long handled tools, allowing the operative to work from the surface without entering the excavation.

GDN-15-09 Andy Vine demo day web

ALH Systems demonstrating pipe cleaning tool

ALH Systems Limited responded to an EIC call for innovation from Northern Gas Networks and National Grid Gas Distribution who looked for a solution to allow them to circumferentially clean pipes in a keyhole excavation.

Northern Gas Networks Innovation Delivery Manager, Richard Hynes-Cooper, said “We are looking to increase the use of long handled tools via ‘core and vac’ and discover innovative solutions to allow the full circumference of a metallic pipe to be cleaned uniformly. The EIC was an obvious place to test what was out there due to their substantial innovator network.”

Simon Buckley, project lead for the EIC, helped the partners to shape the call for innovation that went out to the innovator network. Respondents with relevant innovation ideas and solutions were invited to an EIC presentation day where six companies presented potential solutions to the GDNs. Two companies were then invited to demonstrate their technologies and ALH Systems were chosen to take the project forward. Simon then drafted the project plan for the GDNs and ALH Systems to work to and will continue to be involved as the project progresses toward successful completion.

ALH Systems Ltd Business Development Manager, Andy Vine said, “We’re delighted to be working with the GDN’s on this technology where we have brought together tools from two parts of our business. Indutrade sister company, Trelawny SPT LTD are a UK manufacturer of specialist surface preparation tools & equipment for use on Concrete, Steel & Stone surfaces and we have demonstrated that with certain modifications their equipment can work with ALH Systems Ltd long handled technology.”