The use of robots in gas mains works in London has reduced the length of a project from three years to seven months, according to gas network Cadent.
The Cast Iron Sealing Bot (CISBOT) worked beneath the streets of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea where it remediated ageing pipe joints that had started to leak.
Cadent said the robots had given 5km of gas mains a new lease of life by remediating 1,300 pipe joints with just 20 excavations.
CISBOT, supplied by contractor ULC Pipeline Robotics, entered the gas mains through a special insertion tube. Once inside it was remotely operated by highly trained human operators working in an above ground vehicle.
According to Cadent, the robot can extend the life of a gas pipe by 50 years by injecting a special sealant into ageing pipe joints. It can also travel along a still-live gas pipe, reducing distribution.
Stuart Cull, Cadent network supervisor, said: “CISBOT has enabled us to carry out three years of work in just seven months with a lot less disruption as we only need a small number of excavations.
“Working in very busy areas we’ve been able to proceed almost unnoticed and with a lot less disruption than we would have had, had we been using conventional methods.”
Though the technology is not suitable for every type of gas maintenance or repair work, Cadent said it is deploying CISBOT across its network, including on Chelsea Bridge Road and Regent Street.