Riley Kooh | August 17th, 2022
Water is the single most important resource for supporting communities around the globe. Whether it’s for residential, industrial, municipal, or commercial use, water is used in countless ways, many of which we rarely actually see. The United States alone uses 327 billion gallons of surface water every day. But where does this water come from?
An enormous amount of usable surface water is kept in water storage tanks. In North America, the market for water storage systems is estimated at $US 3.4 billion and expected to grow to $US 4.1 billion by 2024. Inspecting these tanks is imperative for structurally sound, clean and safe water for power, agriculture, mining, and household use. Without routine inspections, issues can arise quickly and sediment can build, compromising the integrity and cleanliness of the water.
Fiberglass tanks can be installed both above ground and underground. Underground installation allows for a large amount of water storage, without affecting the usability of the ground topside. These tanks can be completely covered, using a manhole style access point for inspections.
Concrete tanks can be molded to countless shapes depending on the project, and typically last up to 50 years with proper maintenance. However, once degradation sets in, concrete is prone to cracking and has a relatively complex repair process. These tanks are popular permanent storage systems for potable water, rainwater, stormwater, or sewage.
A water storage tower differs from a general tank by its elevation. By raising a water supply in the air, the force of gravity can be used to create hydrostatic pressure to distribute water supply effectively. Typically water towers are constructed of steel, which provide lifespans in excess of 100 years, and are used to send potable water throughout municipalities.
Beyond the tank itself, potable water tank inspections are crucial for good water maintenance. Over time, sediment can gather and collect along the bottom of tanks. If in small amounts, sediment has no impact on the quality of the water or on the structural integrity of the storage tank.
However, over time as that sediment builds up and mixes into thicker ‘sludge’ material, issues begin to arise. These negative effects can result in health concerns for potable water, or tank material degradation from the concentrated substances. Tank manufacturers generally recommend a minimum of one inspection and subsequent cleaning per annum. This is to ensure long-term integrity, extend the tank life, and avoid costly repairs.
Let us help find the right fit for your inspection and tank cleaning projects
Dan Hulands of The Tank Inspectors shared that with the ROV “there’s a lot less set up time, divers require a lot of set up.” Dan also went on to observe that, “the divers know about diving - they don’t necessarily know about tanks. All of our operators know about tanks and have been working with tanks for many years.” With the ROV, tank experts can get their eyes underwater to conduct specialized inspections and cleaning.
Furthermore, the portability of battery powered crawlers and ROVs allow for vehicles to be conveniently transported to a variety of locations within the same day - without the hassle of an external power source. Jeff Conway from the City of Independence noted, “Having a battery powered camera lets us take these vehicles wherever we need without the need of a generator for power”. These lightweight designs also ensure that an operator can safely and comfortably hoist the ROV to the top of taller water tanks.
Perhaps the most important benefit, tanks can be kept in service and do not need to be drained in order to conduct an inspection/cleaning. Robert Perrin of Ron Perrin Water Technologies shared the convenience of using the Deep Trekker DT640 for standpipe cleaning.
“We use the vehicle instead of divers for tank cleaning,” he said. “Before we got the vehicle we would have to drain the tanks and the utility would lose up to 100,000 of gallons of water.” Michael McAloon, PE, Water/Wastewater Department Manager with Suburban Consulting Engineers echoed this statement, “The Deep Trekker is critical in providing inspection and condition assessment of water storage tank interiors, while maintaining normal system operations.”
Since generators or other external power sources aren’t being used, Deep Trekker’s ROVs are convenient and reduce the risk of spilling fuel or contamination. Finally, ROVs and crawlers are light and portable, with models as light as 19lbs. This makes them safe for solo staff to transport and handle.
To start, users should first open their Pelican case and ensure that they have everything they need for the job. It is important that vehicles are given a quick once over to confirm that all required parts are intact and ready for use.
Next the topside pump for the DT640 VAC should be connected and prepared.
The benefit of using a vehicle for tank inspection and cleaning is the ease in which the robot can be cleaned. One of the major risks associated with sending divers into tanks is the opportunities for contamination from their equipment. There are a lot of “nooks and crannies” on a dive suit that can hold bacteria and other potentially harmful materials to the potable water.
“It’s nice to save my divers from unneeded climbing or entry into a tank that was in good shape,” Mountain West Commercial Diving’s Jake Spaulding adds, “It is so much nicer to hoist the ROV to the top of a tower than it is to send a diver dressed in up a 65 ft ladder. Now we only send in divers if we know what is needed.”
Using the handheld controller, operators can drive the vehicle on the tank floor to effectively and efficiently clean sludge.
The ROV can be driven around the tank to get a close up view of tank walls and floors and roof. Furthermore, video and images can be captured to document any potential issues.
The HD camera and straightforward navigation allows users to get a complete picture of their tank. ROV tank inspection provides users with a convenient and safe way to ensure tank integrity.
Our team is here for any questions you may have, reach out today! Get a customized quote to design the perfect vehicle for you and start improving your inspections today.
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