Image of a CCTV pipe inspection camera on a race track

Let’s race, CCTV pipe inspection cameras!

Let’s race, CCTV pipe inspection cameras!

And why not. As human beings, we desire to race everything else in our lives; cars, motorbikes, lorries, boats and even tractors! So why not race pipe inspection cameras? 

What’s the current speed limit?

Anyone working in this area will know that the specification for inspections of sewerage and drainage networks will limit the camera speed to 0.1 or 0.2 m/sec (0.33 or 0.66 ft/sec) depending on the pipe size. Some of you think even achieving something close to this speed can be challenging given the need to negotiate roots, intruding laterals, debris and Weird Things in Pipes ( #weirdthingsinpipes). Additionally, there’s lots of time spent travelling to an inspection site, finding the asset, setting up traffic management, entering the asset data on the title screen, etc. For that reason, pipe inspection productivity is nowhere near the 2,880 m (9449 ft) per day that could be achieved by a camera travelling down a pipe at 0.1 m/sec (0.33 ft/sec) pipe for 8 hours.

What does that data say about actual camera speeds?

We were keen to understand the average speed of a pipe inspection camera and the data captured in the VAPAR.Solutions platform provides the ability to do this. The platform holds a vast array of data that offers the opportunity to generate insights, including the ability to estimate the average time for a camera to travel through a pipe and complete an inspection. A random sample of surveys from the UK, Australian and New Zealand markets indicates the average speed is 0.13 metres per second (0.43 ft per second), with an 80-second mobilisation/demobilisation time for each survey. The analysis uses inspection footage durations and has removed the supersonic and snail-paced outliers.

Why increase camera speeds?

This analysis demonstrates that the markets generally comply with the specification, so why would you want to increase camera speeds? In addition, we have shown that the time inspecting the pipe accounts for only part of the working day, with time spent on other supporting activities. As with all outstanding racing achievements, not one change leads to success, but a combination of small-time savings creates a race-winning performance. This is generally known as Marginal Gains: small incremental improvements in any process, which, when added together, make a significant improvement (see Remember, you only need to be 0.001 seconds ahead of second-place to be the winner, and the same goes for any commercial analysis of a tender.

How can we increase pipe inspection camera speeds? 

It is not about running the camera through the pipe as fast as possible. The purpose of the inspection needs to be maintained; identify defects or characteristics that will prevent the pipe from providing the required service levels. The current specification speeds allow the camera operator sufficient time to identify defects. However, the advent of VAPAR’s AI-assisted defect coding means you don’t have to rely on the camera operator to identify the defects. The AI technology can support the analysis of inspection footage captured at speeds higher than the current standards while providing high-quality output. Additionally, the move to off-site coding means the camera operator can focus on the quality and speed of the pipe inspection footage and is not distracted by the need to code the surveys simultaneously. For example, you don’t see a Hollywood film studio trying to produce the final film while on set!

So, who is up for a bit of pipe inspection camera racing?

About the Author description - Nathan Muggeridge BDM UK and EU - VAPAR

Read more about how VAPAR is increasing the efficiency and value of underground pipe inspections here.