Water jet cutting system removes solid obstructions that would otherwise require pipe replacement.
A 24-inch sewer main under one of your city’s busiest downtown streets is backing up. You send a camera in and discover someone has dumped concrete into the line. Your jetter or rodder isn’t going to solve the problem.
Even if you find the culprit who dumped the concrete and can recoup the costs, you’re still going to have to dig up the street, reroute traffic, and inconvenience everyone in the area. It’s not a good situation, but historically, there haven’t been many other options.
The WJ Series precision jet cutting system from ID-TEC is a no-dig solution to that exact scenario. The truck- or trailer-mounted system uses extremely high pressure and specialized nozzles, along with CCTV for operational guidance, to remove the hardest of buildups without damaging the pipe and without digging up streets.
Municipal Sewer & Water magazine recently talked to ID-TEC President Rudy Ellgass, about the new system.
MSW: What was the idea behind the design of the ID-TEC precision jet cutting system?
Ellgass: The precision jet cutting system was developed as a specific and targeted application for removing deposits from pipes and lateral connections. We wanted a technology that is suitable, reliable and powerful for removing tree roots, hardened fat, cement, calcium buildup and over-poured concrete from within sewer pipes. In addition, it also needed to be safe for the host pipe or when encountering a cross-bore situation.
MSW: What’s the difference between this technique and a typical jetting system?
Ellgass: Precision jet cutting uses a transporter (crawler), equipped with a camera and a pan-and-tilt nozzle. Because of the camera, the operator has a continuous view of the operation and can aim the water blast directly at the problem while adjusting the water pressure to changing conditions. Choosing the right angle of attack for the water blast will remove deposits without damage to the pipe.
A typical jetting system uses low pressure and high volume to flush out debris and other deposits. Our system uses low volume and high pressure with pin-point aim.
MSW: What type of work is the system designed to do?
Ellgass: It is designed to remove hardened fat, grease, massive tree roots, cement, calcium buildup, over-poured concrete and other deposits from pipelines and lateral connections.
MSW: What sort of pressure and flow can the system produce?
Ellgass: ID-TEC offers three standard pressure units with maximum pressures ranging from 7,250 psi, 14,500 psi and up to 32,000 psi. Flows range between 4 and 6 gpm.
MSW: Can it be used for traditional lower pressure, high flow-rate sewer cleaning?
Ellgass: The system’s specific purpose is to attack the hard deposits that conventional cleaning methods are unable to remove. It does not replace traditional pipe cleaning at all. However, it is usually the last no-dig effort that, if not successful, may end up in pipe replacement.
MSW: How does the operator control and guide the system during operation?
Ellgass: The operator uses two four-axis joysticks and a touch-screen monitor and PC, along with our special operating software. The operator drives the transporter, steers the nozzle, adjusts the water pressure and feeds or retracts both cable and hose reel while watching live video from the transporter.
MSW: Is any special training required?
Ellgass: A four-day operator training is mandatory. The training provides an understanding of the technology and educates new users on the operation and maintenance of the system, as well as high-pressure safety procedures.
MSW: Are the nozzles system-specific, or can it be used with other nozzles?
Ellgass: The nozzles used for precision jet cutting are system-specific and differ widely from conventional jetting nozzles.
MSW: There are three modules for precision jet cutting, the WJ160, WJ180 and WJ190. Can you explain the differences?
Ellgass: The WJ160, WJ180 and WJ190 modules are all compatible with the 8-inch transporter. The WJ160 features a compact design with a front-placed camera. This module can only be used with select nozzles and water pressure up to maximum of 14,500 psi. It is applicable for inspections with minor root infiltrations in 8- to 12-inch pipelines.
The WJ180 and WJ190 are made of stainless steel and have the nozzle below the camera. Different types of nozzles can therefore be used with water pressures up to 32,000 psi. The WJ180, without ram, is typically used in 8- to 18-inch pipelines and the WJ190 with ram in 12- to 40-inch lines.
The new 6-inch transporter with the WJ125 precision jet cutting module is available for 6- to 12-inch pipelines with pressures up to 32,000 psi.
MSW: Are there other modules available?
Ellgass: This modular system is designed around one single transporter, which is adaptable to several job-specific modules. Besides precision jet cutting, we have reinstatement cutting and CCTV inspection spot repair modules. Reinstatement cutting modules feature a hydro-powered cutting motor for reinstating laterals, smoothing joint offsets and cutting off protruding taps. The CCTV inspection and spot repair module is for mainline inspection and working with spot liner and mechanical point-repair packers.
MSW: What equipment comes with the system?
Ellgass: The precision jet cutting system includes the transporter, precision jet cutting module, cable reel, high-pressure hose reel, high-pressure unit, control unit and operating software. Available upgrades include the reinstatement cutting and inspection modules, PACP software and chemical root- and grease-control dosing unit.
MSW: What size pipes and what types of materials is the system designed to clean?
Ellgass: The system is designed for pipe diameters ranging from 6 inches up to 40 inches with the appropriate transporter, module and wheel setup.
MSW: This technology has been used in Europe for over a decade. Why is it just now coming to the U.S.?
Ellgass: ID-TEC wanted to first perfect and test this technology and its main technical components long-term before introducing it to the biggest market in the world. The system had to be made easy to service and an infrastructure had to be built, together with finding a competent partner, tasked to sell, service and support all aspects of this relatively new technology.
MSW: What is the cost of a complete system?
Ellgass: The system cost ranges from approximately $200,000 to $450,000 depending on equipment modules, pressure capacities, custom features and build-out. The vehicle chassis is not included.