The company Arkil Inpipe GmbH from Hannover, Germany, ordered a tailored sewer rehabilitation robot with the industry leader Schwalm Robotic in Bad Hersfeld, in the north of Hesse. The unique vehicle on the basis of a 12t truck accommodates workshop, office, and operator room for controlling the sewer rehabilitation robots in its piggy-back top. Furthermore: the latest camera technology complements the robot system.
"A compact work machine, mobile and ready-to-operate at any time, is planned in order to extend our portfolio." Torsten Schamer, Arkil Inpipe GmbH
According to a survey of the German Association of Water Economy, Waste Water, and Waste from 2009, there are approx. 540,000km of public canalization in Germany alone. The length of all sewers on private properties is estimated additionally to be approx. 1,000,000km. Thus, a large number of pipes have been laid underground for wastewater and rainwater. Therefore, rehabilitating this extremely valuable asset is a nearly never-ending story. Once you are finished, you can start again at the beginning. This way, excavation work is performed everywhere. Or the land of the sewers is burrowed through like a mole.
"A mixture of series products and customer-specific manufacture." Martin Schwalm, Schwalm Robotic
Special equipment is the name of the game in this industry. Therefore, the mobile workshop of Schwalm is an immaculately equipped laboratory. This multi-purpose room accommodates everything required in compliance with the requirements of the construction site. The entire equipment was planned, designed, and implemented in a space-saving and sophisticated manner. Compactness is the name of the game. Planning a sewer rehabilitation vehicle actually requires the practical know-how obtained from those working with the device on a daily basis. Technicians and engineers put these requirements into practice and provide for the solutions, but every individual system has its own issues: What was lacking until now? How could this be improved? Where did it stand the test? And everybody who ever furnished a small apartment will know: there is never enough space.
The components are delivered by exquisite manufacturers. Schwalm had the chassis of the special vehicle modified in accordance with the requirements specification of Arkil Inpipe in order to allow for a low entrance in the back. While a body builder took care of this modification and the piggy-back top, the interior is a mixture of cabinet making and metal construction. Robust working tops and solid shelves made of steel are used in order to provide for the enormous bearing loads. Anything else is complex detail work in the workshops of Schwalm Robotic. From the vehicle concept, CAD design, via the installation of the assemblies, up to final acceptance. "We are making a mixture of series products and customer-specific one-off production. The trick is," says Martin Schwalm, managing owner of the family business from Bad Hersfeld, "to design such an individual product in such a way that it gets close to the sophistication of a state-of-the-art series vehicle and takes into account the very individual requirements of the customer in doing so."
The operator's workstation completes the workshop. The information from the systems is collected here. The operator uses the console to control the robots by means of a joystick. And sustenance is also ensured: microwave oven, refrigerator, sitting accommodation. Upon request, toilet and washing facility. The sewer rehabilitation experts should not go short of anything.
Beating the competition
"In order to stand one's ground in the market as a service provider, you need powerful machines, along with qualified personnel," says Torsten Schamer on the basis of his long-time experience. "High requirements are defined for the contractor and the equipment within the framework of invitations to tender. And the things formerly registered casually as job for men with muscles, today come in the form of environmental engineering. Sustainability, quality assurance, technologization with high-tech are defining variables. Along with their technical skills, the highly qualified specialists for pipeline, sewer, and industrial services are familiar with working on a PC, of course. The range of requirements is extensive and continuously increasing. Many skilled employees are lateral recruits and have specialized by means of additional and further education. In order to obtain the required competences, several years of experience are required. Since the requirements regarding the skills of the skilled employees increase together with these high requirements regarding an orderly work environment."