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A Simple, Low-cost Mechanism for Accurate Location Determination inside Buried Pipes

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000243870D
Publication Date: 2015-Oct-23
Document File: 2 page(s) / 78K

Publishing Venue

The IP.com Prior Art Database


Disclosed is a system to use location tags embedded in a utility pipe, along with a one-time location correlation phase, to enable a fast, simple, and cost effective reader to perform later inspections, without the need for the aboveground support unit.

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A Simple, Low-cost Mechanism for Accurate Location Determination inside Buried Pipes

Cities, buildings, and homes all require miles and miles of pipes to deliver critical supplies such as water, gas, heat, and route sewage away. Pipes are subject to wear, aging, and damage, yet are often enclosed in walls, embedded in concrete, buried underground, or otherwise inaccessible. This makes pipe networks extremely difficult to inspect, but the networks require increasing levels of inspection as infrastructures age.

Current methods of inspection are clumsy, slow, and costly. The most common method of inspecting buried pipelines is to send a pigging device through the pipe to inspect it. Crews lower the big, complex piece of equipment into an access hole. The pigging device then crawls through the pipe, slowly inspecting it. For accuracy, a specialized, large, aboveground transmitter/receiver crawls along with the pigging device, recording location, so that any defects found can be localized later. This is required for every inspection, and thus limits both the number of pipes that can be inspected and the rate at which inspections can occur. The pigging device also uses a lot of power, usually requiring a power tether to provide enough power to transmit through the ground to the receiver, thus limiting its range, thus requiring more effort from the support crew to back it out and retrieve it from the pipe.

Simpler pigging devices exist that use odometers, but these become increasingly inaccurate with distance, and slippage, particularly with some types of fluid (e.g., oil), and materials (e.g., ceramic or coated pipe).

Visual inspection systems are basically just a tethered camera on a crawler, and not accurate in terms...