Theme 7 (Emerging Science) Update

Posted on Friday, August 21st, 2020

T7 is working at the interface between Pipebots’ scientific research and the commercial and customer-driven world of asset management.  Its aim is essentially twofold: firstly, to ensure that Pipebots’ research findings make a positive contribution to asset management practice; and secondly, to build an understanding of the problems asset managers currently face that will shape Pipebots’ research efforts.

T7’s current focus is on the development of system maps that will support this two-way process; and, contribute to the development of a digital-twin for buried pipework assets that can be used as a virtual test bed for robot prototypes.  This is in the context of ‘Sprintbot’, a prototype robot that Pipebots is developing for autonomous surveying of sewer pipes.

The mapping work addresses T7’s principal interfaces, shown in Figure 1 below.  Making the business case for change is an essential step in translating research findings into operational improvements.  Understanding existing asset management procedures and the potential impact that any new approach may have on these is crucial to assessing the desirability of any proposed change.  At the same time, economic, political and social drivers/trends must be born in mind, along with the influence they are likely to have on the regulatory environment, extending through to individual company policy.

Figure 1: T7’s principal interfaces

The operational system maps produced will be important components in the formation of the digital twin.  Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water (DCWW) has assisted with modelling by providing access to its operating procedures.  The modelling tool used is CORE9, developed by Vitech Corporation in the United States.  Figure 2 below shows a typical example of the sort of graphical process description being produced.  SAP MRS is SAP’s multi-resource scheduling tool; MPB refers to its ‘merged planning board’ screen.

T7’s aim is ultimately to create a full suite of system maps that will help to demonstrate objectively to water companies and other asset managers the benefits that Sprintbot can deliver.

Figure 2: Example of graphical process description