Joe Bramwell Smith joined VAPAR

Meet the latest addition to our team: Joe Bramwell-Smith

Meet the latest addition to our team: Joe Bramwell-Smith!

Picture of Joe Bramwell Smith

As a product manager Joe loves to help build the strategy, standards and process that make it possible to make the right decisions about why and what to build.

To share a little more about Joe, we asked him to answer some questions about who he is and how this informs his approach to product: 

Tell us a bit about your background?

JBS: I have a fairly varied background and have worked in a mixture of development and product roles across large media, publishing and tech companies. A large part of my career has been spent at start-ups working on e-learning, social media, e-commerce and now engineering. I also have a degree in Mining Engineering.

How did you come to join VAPAR?

JBS: I loved what VAPAR are doing to solve a huge customer need with cutting edge tech. A great solution that smartly addresses a job to be done for the customer.

Where did your interest in Product Management come from?

JBS: In my prior career as a developer, I worked on lots of different projects with large groups of smart people, some of which were huge successes and some spectacular failures. I started to grow very interested by the ingredients that made the successes happen. Product management was my choice of career from then on.

What are your interests outside of work?

JBS: I spend time with my family and make furniture, surf and head out on the bike.

What is your advice for a better tomorrow?

JBS: There are always endless tasks and things to worry about. Try to prioritise what really matters to you.

For more information about the latest developments at VAPAR, you can connect with Joe on LinkedIn here or reach out to us via our Contact page.

Megan Clarkson

Meet the latest addition to our team: Megan Clarkson

Meet the latest addition to our team: Megan Clarkson!

Megan Clarkson posing for photo

After completing her Bachelor of Science degree, Megan went on to work in various industries all over the world, and we are now excited to welcome her to her latest adventure with us at VAPAR! 

A Little Bit About Megan: 

Megan grew up in a small coastal city in South Africa, where she studied and completed her BSc degree. From there, she went on to expand her horizons by travelling, which led her to live and work in three new countries, each rewarding her with new experiences of different people, workforces and industries. 

Wanting to know more about her, we asked her a few questions: 

After all your travels, why VAPAR? 

MC: Throughout my travels, I’ve experienced the effects of poorly maintained water systems. Not only does it affect your personal life but work life as well, which then further hinders your personal life. It is a vicious cycle that is a detriment to your quality of life. Personally, I’ve experienced this in my hometown; we currently have a countdown to no water! VAPAR provides a solution that is efficient and time-saving, which is pivotal to fixing a currently broken system. Not only am I privileged to have the opportunity to work with such an innovative team, but I am proud to be a part of the change. Plus, it is co-founded by women- how powerful! 

Where do you see yourself in ten years? 

MC: Who knows?! The past ten years have proven just how fast the world is developing and adapting; each season brings a new normal that you could never have predicted. I hope not to stay tied down to a limited idea of what I could become for the next ten years and instead ride the wave, expect the unexpected and be daring. Each new season I want to expand on what I hope to become and one day be amazed at all the things I did that I never thought could be a possibility.

Are you a coffee or tea person? 

MC: Neither- I know, it’s shocking. 

For more information about the latest developments at VAPAR, you can connect with Anthony on Linkedin here or reach out to us via our Contact page.

Enlight2786 (002)

Local Sewer History Finds

Local Sewer History Finds

Keeping an eye out for local sewer history finds

Most major cities had their first sewer infrastructure constructed centuries ago. While much of the original networks are either long gone or buried deep underground, if you do a little research and keep your eyes open you’ll likely find some interesting structures that formed part of the original systems. In some cases, these will be decommissioned, others are still in services hundreds of years after they were built.

Sewer aqueduct spanning Johnstone's Creek (Annandale, Sydney)

Finding a piece of Sydney’s sewer history

Out on a recent morning jog in Annandale, I came across a sewer aqueduct that was partially enveloped by the canopy of a large fig tree. Reading the faded plaque on one of the concrete arch supports and reading up on its history, it was interesting to learn about the important role this structure played in the early Sydney sewer network.

The Johnstone's Creek Aqueduct

Designed by Prussian engineer William Baltzer and constructed by Carter, Gummow and Forest in 1896, the aqueduct contains 8 primary arches and has a total length of 281m. It was the first use of reinforced concrete for a large structure in Australia. This very new construction technique of the time was under patent and known as the Monier system. The historical significance of the Johnstone’s Creek aqueduct has led to it being listed on the NSW State Heritage Register.

 

Early example of reinforced concrete in Australia

Transporting sewage to Bondi

The separation of the Sydney’s combined stormwater and sewer pipework began in 1887, and by 1889 the Sydney sewer network had reached 140km of pipe and was servicing close to 25,000 properties across the inner city. With this flow discharging into the harbour, construction of more sustainable options had been underway for some time. Construction of the Bondi Ocean Outfall and Botany Sewage Farm was completed in 1889 and allowed for further expansion of Sydney’s sewer network. 

This included the Northern Main Sewer which would service the growing population in Annandale and Balmain and transport flow to a main line junction at the corner of Parramatta Rd and City Rd, then all the way through to Bondi. This extension required crossing both Johnstone’s Creek and White’s Creek with the construction of aqueducts the most suitable design option of the time.

 

Could reinforced concrete be trusted?

In the late 19th century, the idea of using concrete for such a large structure was not without detractors. The original Public Works Department design called for a brick arch construction and the submission for this new design and material had initially been rejected due to its experimental nature and unproven history. However, support from Robert Hickson (Under-Secretary for Public Works) was interested in trialling the use of reinforced concrete and what was an innovative idea at the time. The Monier design delivered spans that could be 50% larger than brick, and the total cost of the project was quoted as 20% cheaper – it received the go-ahead for construction after test arches were loaded to failure at Burwood with positive results.

Looking west from Glebe to Annandale showing construction of Johnstons Creek Sewer Aqueduct. (City of Sydney Archives)

The rest is history

It didn’t take long before the advantages of reinforced concrete led to a rapid increase in use for a wide range of structures. The first reinforced concrete water reservoir was built in Kiama just a few years later in 1899. The Annandale Aqueduct has certainly stood the test of time, it required only minor maintenance in its first 90 years of service – far exceeding the 3-year guarantee period. The flume was eventually plastic lined in the 1980s and the arches underwent repair and protection works in 1996. 

Still interested in more of the aqueduct’s history?
Well, there was some controversy!

Like any good historical story, the construction was not without controversy. A Royal Commission was held in 1896 and ran for over a year. It was based around accusations of favouritism, contract violations, and defective work. This was not assisted by the fact that at the time William Baltzer suggested the alternate design he was working as a draughtsman in Sewerage Construction Branch of the Public Works Department while also on retainer as an engineer for Carter, Gummow and Forest who were awarded the contract. Despite the large furore and public investigation, the final report fully exonerated Hickson, Baltzer and others involved. It even went as far as finding that some of the allegations appeared frivolous and not founded in truth. As difficult as this must have been for the engineers and others involved in the commission so soon after construction, it is the detailed record of the commission that has provided such informative history and detail about the project from inspection to completion. It was the commission proceedings themselves that meant this significant construction achievement become one of the best documented contracts of the era.

Extract from the Public Works Inquiry Commission

VAPAR.Solutions is designed to process and score video footage from a wide variety of camera systems, providing a single cloud-hosted location for all your inspection videos, images, reports and decisions.

About the Author Mark Lee
Anthony Woodhouse posing for a picture

Meet the latest addition to our team: Anthony Woodhouse!

Meet the latest addition to our team: Anthony Woodhouse!

Anthony woodhouse posing

Starting his career in the Water Utility Industry in 2013 at Wannon Water as an Asset Database/Condition Assessment Technical Officer and progressed from there into the Asset Condition and Performance Officer role, taking on condition assessment programs and setting inspection priorities and repair recommendations.

Tell us a bit about your background?

AW: I’ve had a wide and varied range of jobs throughout my career. From working in the local abattoir, hospitality venues, engineering CAD, land development and survey, plumbing to asset management. Any and all the experiences that I’ve had along the way have put me in the position I am now in and in good stead for the future.

Before VAPAR, Anthony worked at his local water utility and managed the sewer inspection program and renewal scheduling utilising CCTV data that is now the chair of the Water Services Association of Australia (WSAA) WSA05 – Conduit Inspection and Reporting Code.

How did you come to join VAPAR?

AW: I have always had an interest in sharing my knowledge with other utilities and this was a perfect opportunity for me to do that. In my previous role I was responsible for managing a sewer inspection program (approx. 50km/yr), a database of 13yrs of previous inspections, proposal of maintenance and renewal actions which is everything that is within the VAPAR platform just made a whole load easier.

What are your interests outside of work?

AW: Raising 5 boys take a lot of time but we are very interested in the outdoors i.e. camping, fishing and mountain bike riding. We also have a significant vegetable garden which everyone in our family helps out with.

What inspires you in your journey??

AW: In one word, family. It is a huge priority for me as I want to help provide the best I possibly can for them, not only that but help make the places that we live better and improve their life experiences.

For more information about the latest developments at VAPAR, you can connect with Anthony on Linkedin here or reach out to us via our Contact page.

amanda and michelle

VAPAR completes AUD$2.5M raise to lead global expansion with AI pipe inspection software

VAPAR completes AUD$2.5M raise to lead global expansion with AI pipe inspection software

Media release: 9 June 2022

amanda and michelle

A huge milestone for us as we announce that we have raised AUD$2,500,000 in seed funding to lead our expansion into global markets.

Founded at the beginning of 2018, VAPAR started with a vision to help utilities eliminate unexpected pipe failures by building a data-driven way of implementing pipe maintenance and rehabilitation. 

Engineers, Amanda Siqueira, CEO, and Michelle Aguilar, CTO, co-founded the disruptive start-up after witnessing first-hand the tedious and time-consuming tasks of manual video inspection.

Siqueira said, “Our customers have been grappling with intense weather events, asset degradation and the rapid increase in the load from growing population to their pipe network for years and this will only continue to worsen. Something’s got to give, and when it does it usually happens without warning”. Unplanned pipe repairs cost water utilities around the globe billions of dollars. Over USD$88 billion is spent on repairing pipes, and VAPAR is well positioned to address that market with cutting-edge deep learning technology.

“We’ve started a global sewer revolution to stop unexpected pipe failures. They pollute our waterways and wreak havoc on our communities and businesses when sewage floods into properties. The data and technology are now available to build a sustainable way to manage our network. VAPAR is committed to unlocking this value with our customers using smart deep learning. There’s now a better way,” Siqueira asserts.

$88 Bn AUD is spent on pipeline maintenance globally per annum. With VAPAR, critical asset management that would otherwise take weeks to complete can be conducted in minutes with a few clicks.

Over the last 4 years, the VAPAR team have developed and iterated on their technology offering to meet the global market demands. “As a successful graduate of Microsoft’s start-up program, we’ve been watching VAPAR grow year on year and it’s fantastic to see Australian technology making such an impact with two women at the helm. VAPAR’s customers globally are looking for a reliable, resilient and cost-effective solution to improve their asset management and predictive maintenance capability as they move toward a more environmentally sustainable future.” – Lizelle Hughes, ISV & SaaS Partnerships Director, Microsoft Australia.

Today, VAPAR is used by a range of water utility organisations, including large forward-thinking organisations such as United Utilities (UK), Anglian Water (UK) and Greater Western Water (AU) amongst a range of others. Samantha Sloan, Network Business Manager for United Utilities, says “We were thrilled to be introduced to VAPAR through our Innovation Lab Program in 2019. We’ve worked closely with the team, helped them launch here in the UK and co-develop their product to create impact in our business. Today, we are rolling out VAPAR’s software in our pipe network programs to increase the efficiency of the end-to-end process. Through VAPAR’s software we are rapidly unlocking thousands of kilometres of data from our video inspections that were previously only available by having someone watch them”. VAPAR’s growing customer base in the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand will be used as a launchpad to expand into the massive US market.

VAPAR raised $2.5M AUD in seed funding from London Stock Exchange-listed Halma Ventures and Australian Sprint Ventures, Access Capital Ventures (S.E Asia) and Metagrove Ventures (Aus and US).

The company’s seed funding round closed with a diverse range of investors from various industries. Investors include Halma Ventures, Sprint Ventures, Access Capital Ventures and Metagrove Ventures. Andrew Williams, Halma’s Group Chief Executive, commented “VAPAR’s mission – to deliver the right technology to eliminate repetitive manual tasks in infrastructure management – is fully aligned to our purpose to grow a safer, cleaner and healthier future for everyone, every day. Our partnership will enable VAPAR to expand their markets internationally while bringing new technologies and capabilities to the Group and specifically our companies in Halma’s Environmental & Analysis sector.”

Llew Jury, Sprint Ventures’ Managing Partner was impressed by VAPAR’s focus on innovation and the ability of the team to deliver substantial productivity gains and insight to critical infrastructure managers.  “Sprint was built on the belief that extraordinary founders can build a better future, and Amanda and Michelle are the epitome of that vision. Frustrated by outdated practices and believing they could use their qualifications and technology to do better, they’re now leading pipeline maintenance innovation. With our strong ESG investing values, we are thrilled to invest in their continued growth.”

With customers already established in Australia and the United Kingdom, VAPAR’s funding will fuel further expansion across the UK and into the US market.

Siqueira and Aguilar plan to use the funds to hire locally and scale the business further into the exciting US and UK markets. Most of the funds will be used for data science and software development hires. Aguilar said, “We are seeing exponential growth in the amount of inspections we are processing, and currently delivering over 100,000 metres of pipeline inspections per month within a couple of minutes of upload, completely self-serve. Our team has put together an ambitious roadmap to add more game-changing features and provide further efficiency gains and meet the increasing customer demand.”

Read more about how VAPAR helped improve efficiency in the sewer and stormwater industry here

MSCC5

Opportunities to improve the UK pipe inspection standard (MSCC5)

Opportunities to improve the UK pipe inspection standard (MSCC5)

MSCC5

Introduction

If you work within the UK water industry, you will be very aware of the MSCC5 (Manual of Sewer Condition Classification Fifth Edition). The first edition dates back nearly 40 years now, and in that time, many hundreds of thousands of miles of sewers and pipes by thousands of different contractors of all shapes and sizes have used the code to create a standardised output.

 

Is history holding back the future?

The Water Research Centre (WRC) first published MSCC back in 1980, and since then, other countries have adopted the idea behind a standard. This led to the creation of the European Standard  BS EN 13508-2:2003+A1:2011, which has allowed the different codes to use a common language. 

 

This alignment now presents a challenge with updating MSCC so it can keep pace with the technological changes. The need to align with the European Standard means many stakeholders will need to agree to any changes. However, there is a real need to update the standard, given that the current manual is still referring Cathode-Ray Tube (CRT) screens and their calibration. Is there anyone out there using these screens now? 

CATHODE RAY SCREEN

MSCC5 references the calibration of Cathode-Ray Tube screens. Does anyone else still use these screens?

The first opportunity to improve the standard is to consider what the future of pipe inspecting coding might look like and how MSCC can support the future. We feel that using AI and modern software techniques is the first step in modernising a sector that has not changed significantly in the last 40 years. 

car manufacturing with humans

Can the pipe inspection industry be modernised to deliver the benefits generated by the latest manufacturing plants?

How could we look at things differently?

So, what could a new coding standard look like in 2022 if we were designing it from scratch? If you look at computer software these days, it is a lot simpler than it used to be. Less is more now, and even the most complicated programmes have simple user interfaces to help speed up workflow and productivity. Gone are the days of needing to install desktop software and then updating it physically.

So how can this be applied to sewer surveying and classification, given that there are different types of users, from Water companies to small drainage contractors?

 

We need to think about why we are doing the survey and what is the result we want. The purpose of the standard is all about making an informed decision about investment in repair, maintenance, or renewal in line with its condition, serviceability, and budget available. Does the current coding standard meet the requirements? If yes, does it do it with simplicity in mind? This factor is essential when training people on how to code and survey? With so many codes and conditions to learn, this can extend training requirements and take years for operatives to gain all the experience needed to code the surveys to the exacting standards. Are contractors doing this, and is it possible to audit it accurately – probably not! 

 

By simplifying and determining the key elements that make up the investment decision, we could remove a lot of unnecessary work and time and use enhanced technology to fill in the gaps speeding up workflow and productivity and saving money. The delivery of this outcome could start with a single document containing the coding and scoring requirements. Currently, MSCC5 includes the codes, and the Sewer Risk Manual holds the scores to determine the condition grades that typically drive the investment need.

 

Coding observations

Do the current set of codes consider all likely defects on the network? Is coding of infiltration, H2S attack and Hydraulic overload accurate and in a way that informs decisions on the action necessary. We don’t currently have a condition grade that reflects the degree of infiltration associated with an asset.

 

Abandoned surveys require a comment in the remarks section to explain the root cause for the survey being abandoned. This approach is not helpful when you own a survey company and are looking to minimise the number of abandoned surveys and increase your productivity. How do you determine the value of providing the crews with longer cable lengths to minimise the number of ‘out of cable’ abandonments? In other countries, they have specific abandoned codes related to the defect before. For example, the Australian manual has ‘Survey Abandoned Collapsed Pipe’.

pipe inspection abandoned

How many abandoned surveys occur due to insufficient cable length? 

 Open and displaced joints always cause much debate and can be confusing 5-10% of diameter gets a score of 40, but 1.5 pipe wall thickness receives a score of 2. Typically, a pipe wall thickness equals 10% of the internal pipe diameter, so how can this be made more consistent?

Condition Assessments

We have a situation where we have two different types of condition assessment criteria in the UK. There are two scoring systems; the DRB Drain Repair book grades A, B & C (for domestic properties) and the SRM (Sewer Risk Management grades 1-5) on some software systems. Whilst they map against each other, it seems questionable to have two different approaches. It is essential to have accurate data to make informed decisions, and having one standard will make that accuracy more consistent. This further help simplify the training and reduces the costs for survey company owners.

 

Furthermore, is it also possible to be more scientific about the likelihood of further deterioration or collapse? Given that we have years of data, is it possible to develop a more accurate way of assessing risk on specific pipe lengths? Could this allow us to plan repair and maintenance more productively and head off issues at an earlier stage with a more cost-effective repair? We suspect the disparate data storage capability of the incumbent software applications for pipe inspection coding means this will be difficult. However, VAPAR’s central database of pipe condition assessments allows this type of data to be easily accessed and could be the key to unlocking a faster and more cost-effective solution to surveying and condition assessment.

Final thoughts

Technology plays a massive part in all our lives; whilst CCTV camera technology has advanced exponentially over the past ten years reporting systems have remained static. The traditional processes are still heavily manual and require extensive training and experience to keep the data collected consistently. But are we now at crossroads in terms of the old and the new?

VAPAR‘s AI platform is now able to generate MSCC5 compliant outputs. The development work to comply with MSCC5, plus the standards used in Australia, the United States and New Zealand, has provided us with a unique perspective.

VAPAR’s modern and unique capability to combine AI and human inputs to produce a fast and accurate output provides an opportunity to match the latest CCTV camera technology. Updating the MSCC standard is one part of the puzzle that will significantly improve how we do things for the customers using piped networks.

vapar platform ai and human

Vapar provides the capability to combine AI and human inputs to produce a fast and accurate output and provides an opportunity to match the capability of the latest CCTV camera technology.

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manhole cover in slovokia

Basics of Sewer Manholes

Basics of Sewer Manholes

Picture of sewer manhole

What are manholes?

Sewer manholes or also called maintenance holes are formal access points within the sewer pipe network that provide maintenance teams a chance to get access to maintain the sewer pipe network. They can come in many different shapes and sizes depending on how deep they go into the ground and what the surrounding ground conditions are like.

Why do you need manholes?

Once a blockage or a break in the sewer pipe is confirmed through a CCTV inspection, maintenance teams need to get access to remedy the issue. Without the presence of manholes, any remediation would be complicated and expensive.

Where can you find manholes?

The spacing of the manholes depends on a couple of factors. If a sewer pipe is running in a straight line in an area where access is not an issue, then they are usually placed every 80-100 metres (260-330 feet) along a sewer pipe. This spacing is determined by the practical length of water jetting equipment to reach the full length of pipe, regardless of whether the water jetting was done from the upstream manhole, or the downstream manhole.

That being said, manholes can also be built at shorter or longer lengths. For example, if the pipe needs to have bends in it, the design engineer might want to install extra manholes to account for the risk of blockage at the change point in the flow of sewage.

Manholes can also be placed within the network at irregular locations when the pipe network runs under a highly urbanised area. Placing manholes in the middle of roads, or in the middle of someone’s property is not advisable.

There are serious safety issues with placing manholes too close to live roads and having a manhole under a concrete floor slab doesn’t really serve anyone either. For this reason, the configuration of the network and the spacing of manholes might vary to account for the above ground infrastructure.

Drain spotting

You can identify the presence of manholes by the manhole covers on roads, footpaths and even in parks. The manhole covers themselves can come in many different shapes and sizes also, although most are round. They are usually made of metal to withstand the weight of heavy vehicles.

There is a great #drainspotting hashtag that you can browse to see what others have contributed from all over the world. Perhaps on your travels, you might feel compelled to contribute some interesting manhole designs and locations and help educate others on the weird and wonderful world of our underground sewer networks.

sewer points
About the author
IN-R Drone

Sewer Camera – An explanation of the different types of camera hardware

Sewer Camera – An explanation of the different types of camera hardware

The inspection of sewer and stormwater networks is commonly completed using a camera that records video footage from the inside of underground pipes also called the sewer camera. The photos and videos collected during a pipe inspection can be used to assign a condition grade to pipes through the identification of structural and service defects. Councils, municipalities, and water authorities use these condition grades to prioritise pipe maintenance (e.g., clearing roots and debris) and repair (e.g., patches and lining). 

Access to pipes is usually obtained through maintenance holes or pits which can be located within roads, kerbs, public space, and private property.

A variety of different camera equipment is available to record video footage for defect analysis and scoring. Common sewer camera types include:

Crawler Cameras

Crawler cameras are robust remotely controlled inspection robots that traverse through a pipe on wheels. They typically have a strong light source to illuminate the inside of the pipe and are connected via a cable to a vehicle on the surface that supplies power and transmits the video back to a vehicle computer for recording. The robot is controlled by an operator on the surface who directs the crawler’s progress through live vision fed back to their computer monitor. They can adjust for speed and direction, and often have the ability to pan, tilt and zoom the camera lens; leading to the term PTZ camera (they are also called tractor cameras in some regions). Crawler cameras are the most common type used for pipe network inspections throughout the world.

Fixed Zoom Cameras

Fixed zoom, or pole cameras, do not need to travel along the pipe to collect video footage. They consist of a fixed high-definition camera head attached to a pole that is lowered from the surface to the base of the pipe at surface entry locations. Using a combination of strong zoom, focus adjustment, and lighting; a video is recorded as the camera zooms in and the field of vision extends through the pipe from chainage zero to the end of pipe or bend. With a combination of optical (20-40x) and digital zoom (10-15x) they provide a fast and robust way to collect a condition overview of a network.

Image of pole camera for sewers

Push Rod Cameras

House connection branches or sewer laterals present unique challenges when collecting condition footage or diagnosing a problem. Their small diameter and frequent bends mean the larger camera hardware is unable to enter and travel through these smaller lines (typically < 150mm diameter). Push rod cameras are designed for tough and tight conditions. Appearing as a coiled cable on a real with a slim camera head, they can be inserted and controlled manually with imagery fed back to a control unit. The use of skids is sometimes employed to keep the camera head and vision steady and centred.

Pushrod camera for sewers

Inspection Rafts

For large pipes that cover long distances, an inspection raft may be the only choice to collect imagery from within a pipe. These are often used for outfall tunnels where they can be sent downstream and caught with a hook or net at location that could be many kilometres further down the pipe. They are usually designed to stay upright and balanced.

Image of push raft camera for sewers

Drone Cameras

With rapid advancement in UAV technology, the industry has seen an increase in the use of drones for pipe inspection over the last few years. Drones have some distinct advantages in certain situations, including; large pipes with high flow where a crawler may not be able to enter and raft would traverse along the pipe too quickly, and longer pipe inspections where equipment weight or cable length is prohibitive. It will be interesting to see how this technology develops and if it becomes a more mainstream option for pipe networks.

IN-R Drone

Manhole / Maintenance Hole Cameras

There are now a variety of dedicated cameras available for collecting photos, videos, and 3D scans of the vertical shaft that leads down to the benching and pipe channel. In the past this has been completed by visual surface or confined space entry inspection, using a regular camera, or with a crawler as it is lowered down to complete the main pipe inspection. Newer camera technology has been specifically designed to collect more detailed information with much higher resolution than ever before.

Manhole maintenance camera

Jetter Nozzle Cameras

Jetters can be used by operators to clear sediment, obstructions, fats, oils, grease, and roots from pipes. Some hydro jetters on the market include a nozzle camera that can be used to help guide the camera through the pipe, locate specific issues and even steer into lateral pipes. The camera is also able to collect video footage following its cleaning run through the pipe to collect information on the effectiveness of the clean and provide an indication of the condition of the cleaned pipe.

Image of Jetter nozzle camera for sewers

VAPAR.Solutions is designed to process and score video footage from a wide variety of camera systems, providing a single cloud-hosted location for all your inspection videos, images, reports and decisions.

About the Author Mark Lee
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Too many engineers, not enough data analysts?

Too many engineers, not enough data analysts?

“Data is not information, information is not knowledge, knowledge is not understanding, understanding is not wisdom”

Clifford Stoll

One of the significant changes for utility providers in the 21st century is the massive increase in data that is now available and streaming into organisations. It wasn’t so long ago that engineers were hand drawing pipe long sections and calculating maximum flows without the aid of hydraulic models, or even a computer. Those days are gone, long gone; the new breed of engineer now has access to a wide array of software programs, intelligent devices, and predictive tools that are all generating gigabytes of data for consumption:

  • Hydraulic models
  • Digital twins
  • Artificial intelligence processors
  • 3D LiDAR mapping
  • Telemetry and remote SCADA Systems
  • Digital flow meters
  • Leak detection loggers
  • Overflow and pressure transient sensors
  • Multi-camera inspection robots

The result is the availability of more data than organisations have ever had in their history, and it continues to accumulate at a faster and faster pace each year. What hasn’t changed so quickly is the traditional skills that engineers are taught during studies and the types of roles that organisations create to look after their assets.

Turning data into information, and then using that information to make smart decisions and gain improved understanding of assets requires a different skill set than traditional engineers may be used to. Not only is more data coming in, but it needs storage, user access, and interaction among different software programs. Organisations that can successfully accept the substantial amounts of data and efficiently cleanse, analyse, and integrate it throughout their processes have a distinct advantage in providing services that return value for money and meet the objectives for their community or customers.

Taking advantage of Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) and integration options that are often market supplied and understanding the methods of detecting trends, risks and insights is a smoother process when organisations have data analysts on board who can be the key player to ensure engineers are working with information and knowledge and not just data.

Has there been enough discussion in the industry about the creation of these targeted positions and then attracting and keeping data analysts? Opening a dialogue with sector leaders and obtaining human resources buy-in that positions like this are essential, may be a different challenge, but one that is going to be worth taking on.

Click here to read more of such interesting content

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Meet the latest addition to our team: Nathan Muggeridge!

Meet the latest addition to our team: Nathan Muggeridge!

Starting his career in water engineering, Nathan’s passion is to collaborate with different people and explore technologies to create change that leads to a positive outcome for all, which includes VAPAR’s customers. We are incredibly proud to have him join our team.

To share a little more about Nathan, we asked him to answer some questions that illuminate the personality behind the talent.

Tell us a bit about your background?

NM: At age 14, I knew I wanted to become a water engineer; I loved spending time in and around water (still do) and had a motivation to build things (still do). This led me to a 20-year career in the UK water section that has covered a multitude of roles and sectors; working for large consultancy to produce hydraulic simulation models, setting up my own consultancy business that delivered projects ranging from the development of a £100m investment plan for London’s sewers to establishing multi-million-pound sewer maintenance contract.

Other experience includes extending the life of a start-up by 3 years, initiating and implementing a multi-award winning behavioural change programme and product managing a number of software solutions. For the last 2 years, I have been working for National Highways, helping establish their Strategic Investment Planning capability, which saw the team grow from just me in Feb 2019 to over 100 people involved in creating the multi-billion pound renewals investment plan for 2025 to 2030.

How did you come to join VAPAR?

NM: I joined VAPAR as I wanted to help build something new again and do it using new technology. I’m motivated by using new technologies to drive changes that lead to positive outcomes, and this is ultimately the purpose of VAPAR. Furthermore, my previous experience has been based around infrastructure asset management. I wanted to expand this to include digital asset management, using data and new technologies to drive better investment decision making.

Where did your interest in Asset Management come from?

NM: Like so many people, I hate seeing waste and Asset Management provides a logical mechanism for minimising wastage. Plus, I like how the principle is transferable from sector to sector, and most sectors involve some form of gravity pipework.

What are your interests outside of work?

NM: Spending time with my family, road cycling, mountain biking in the winter, paddleboarding in the summer, walking the dog and sailing. Other interests include helping to coach a local swimming club for a couple of hours a week and listening to business or comedy podcasts.

What advice would will you give anybody for a better tomorrow?

NM: Be curious and comfortable with change. The world is always changing, and you should be changing to make it better.

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