Local 3 Workers Use Robotics to Repair National Grid Gas Mains

Robotic Gas Main Repair (1)
Members of Local 3 IBEW and workers from ULC Robotics repairing gas mains near Willow Avenue, Staten Island.
(Photo: Thomas Altfather Good / UnionWriter.com)
 
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — February 1, 2017. National Grid workers no longer have to excavate to repair old iron gas mains – a small robot called a ‘CISBOT’ now effects repairs without disrupting the flow of natural gas or traffic.
 
A large silver cylinder called a ‘Launcher’ houses a CISBOT robot that descends into old iron gas mains, drills small holes near each joint and then injects sealant to replace degraded materials (old sealant). This activity extends the life of the iron main by sealing leaks without having to excavate and repair (or replace) the main. A National Grid worker said that the robot can travel 700 feet in either direction. The robot is guided remotely by workers using computers stored in a truck parked next to the launcher.
 
Robotic Gas Main Repair (2)
A “launcher” connected to a valve on a gas main – a CISBOT is inside the main resealing joints.
(Photo: Thomas Altfather Good / UnionWriter.com)
 
I reached out to the company that supplies the robot, ULC Robotics, asking how the robot is deployed.
 
ULC’s Nathan King said, “The launch tube is a pressure vessel installed on top of a valve, which allows the robot to enter the gas main while the gas is still on — without allowing the gas to escape into the atmosphere.”

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