Launch Slideshow

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Utility microsurgery

Utility microsurgery

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    Coring the street in a residential area is done quickly and easily by a two-man crew.

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    The advantages of small keyhole cuts are readily apparent in these two utility cuts, which cause large, unsightly scars in the street.

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    The core from a utility cut is set aside. It will eventually be replaced and fused into place with a bonding material.

Recent developments in tooling and small-hole processing have focused on performing service line upgrades and repairs. On plastic mains, new service tees are installed using electrofusion technology. Once the service tee is installed on the main through the 18-inch cored opening, the service line is connected and pressure tested. Every step of the process is performed using newly created extension tools.

Similarly, strap-on style tees that connect the new tee to the newly installed plastic service line are available for steel main to plastic service line applications, and all of the extension tools for this operation are available. One of the latest tooling developments allows workers to abandon medium- and high-pressure service lines through the cored holes without any “blowing” of gas. At this juncture, all processes are performed through the standard 18-inch diameter hole. In some instances, smaller holes can be cored and up to 24-inch holes also can be used.

Many utilities are turning to the latest developments in this technology as a major component in their efforts to improve operating performance while improving relationships with customers and municipalities. The technologies implementation has spread throughout the United States.

Enhancing infrastructure management through the use of small-hole technology is increasingly important to achieving operational efficiency. The ability of utilities and municipalities to be able to perform their core business functions safely and efficiently while significantly decreasing disruptions makes this an operations and maintenance management tool for the 21st century.

—William Hutton, PhD, is the president and CEO of Omega Tools Inc., Portland, Pa. T. Mark Andraka is a senior engineer at PECO Energy Co.