Kuchem GmbH deploys two new eMulti pipe robots
More flexibility on the construction site - robotic systems and support equipment built into a MB519 Sprinter
The Kuchem GmbH fleet, based in Neunkirchen-Seelscheid in the Rhein-Sieg district in North Rhine-Westphalia, recently added two new eMulti-sewer robots from Pipetronics. These two new fully electric multifunctional robot systems permit Managing Director Ralph Kuchem to implement an innovative vehicle concept.
The two new units have been built on two Mercedes Sprinters. “We decided to use two Sprinters as supply vehicles for the eMulti systems instead of the usual trailers, because this allows us to remain much more flexible,” explained Ralph Kuchem. If materials or spare parts are required during use, the rehabilitation vehicle can remain on the construction site. Also, logistics using the two independent vehicles are often easier. “Many of the streets in Bergisches Land are very narrow, but also in downtown Cologne, where we regularly work, manoeuvring with a trailer can be problematic,” says Kuchem.
The two cable drums for controlling the milling robots and for the robots for the PI.TRON filling and grouting system, the robots themselves, the ovoid-profile chassis, the control stand, and the batteries are all housed in the first Sprinter with a payload of five tons. The second vehicle is home to an additional backup generator in case the batteries are low, as well as the equipment and tools for processing the resins on the construction site, such as the climate cabinet, mixing unit, consumables store, etc.
The success of the new vehicle concept is demonstrated by the fact that Kuchem GmbH was able to successfully deploy both eMulti robot systems in rehabilitation projects just one day after handover.
Sustainable - sewer robots work with self-generated solar power
The eMulti sewer robots were chosen to replace two older hydraulic systems in the Kuchem vehicle fleet. Sustainability plays an important role at Kuchem and was a strong argument in selecting the Pipetronics system. The new electric sewer robots (milling, filling, grouting) are much quieter, and permit milling work to be carried out in the evening hours when other systems have to stop for noise protection reasons.
Also, the Pipetronics robot system is almost emission-free, as the electricity for charging the system batteries is obtained from the company's solar system. In 2017, IHK Bonn / Rhein-Sieg awarded Kuchem GmbH the coveted “Ludwig” award in the sustainability category for its progressive environmental concept, which is based on the use of solar energy and rainwater as well as water recycling.
PI.TRON system for milling, filling and grouting enables long-lasting repairs
In addition to quiet and emission-free operation, milling robots eCutter from Pipetronics boast high-performance milling and drive motors. The high torque effectively prevents tools from seizing. Even very stubborn obstacles such as protruding steel parts or cast iron pieces, obstructing pipelines or heavily solidified deposits can be milled off neatly.
Kuchem’s rehabilitation vehicles are equipped with the smaller eCutter EF 150 and the larger eCutter EF 250, thus permitting milling work in sewers from DN 150 to DN 800. The eCutter is equipped for any task thanks to a wide array of tools optimised for sewer applications. The robots feature, among other things, a brushless, temperature-monitored 48V DC milling motor. An integrated water flush on the milling tool and the camera, as well as a built-in windscreen wiper, ensure that the operator always has a clear view. The robots feature a milling stroke of 88 or 160 mm as standard and can be extended considerably by a further 50 to 200 mm using mounted milling shaft extensions (EF 150 up to a total of 238 mm; EF 250 up to a total of 340 mm). In the latest generation, available since early 2020, the robots are optionally available with a 4th axle. This increases the flexibility of the system, allowing it to mill much deeper into lateral pipes. Continuously extendable electric chassis enable use in ovoid-profiles.
After the preparatory work with the milling robot, the PI.TRON filling / grouting robots, which are also available in two sizes, are used, depending on the scale of the damage. The PI.TRON filling robots are suitable for the partial repair of a large variety of damage such as leaky sockets, fragmentation, smaller to larger pipe holes as well as longitudinal and lateral cracks. Longitudinal or radial spatulas are used for filling with millimetre precision, controlled by an infinitely variable electrical drive and rotational drive. Defective sleeves and sockets are pressed and integrated in combination with the proven PI.TRON formwork system and a high-quality epoxy resin adapted to the system. When rehabilitating connectors, the connection between the main sewer channels and domestic connections is pressed absolutely tight, thus preventing both exfiltration, i.e. the discharge of waste water into the groundwater, and the infiltration of groundwater into the sewer. This system has proven itself thousands of times around the world when sealing domestic connections and has proven its durability in numerous tests.
Pipetronics is also constantly expanding the support systems for its robot systems. These make the system operators' work easier and help to improve the quality of the rehabilitation work. For example, the latest generation of systems features moisture sensors in the robot housing that provide early warning of water ingress and thus avoid major damage to the system as well as the associated costly repairs. Additional sensors for determining position also provide information about the inclination of the robot in the sewer; this prevents the device from tipping over. With remote access and error code storage, the systems are also equipped for remote maintenance and thus offer a very high level of availability.
“The future belongs to multifunctional robot systems”
“We are convinced that the future of trenchless sewer rehabilitation belongs to multifunctional robotic systems equipped with artificial intelligence,” says Pipetronics Sales Manager Steffen Roll, while explaining the company’s strategy. This relatively young company is currently in the process of systematically expanding the range of applications of its sewer robots. For example, the new PI.TRON HatSet system has now been developed sufficiently for commercial readiness. With this heatable setting device for hat profiles, rehabilitation companies now also have the option of integrating pipe liners in inlet areas. The PI.TRON WaterStop also represents an innovative step forward in pre-sealing water infiltration before the installation of pipe liners. Adaptations for the high-pressure milling PI.TRON HydroJet Kit and the setting of sleeves such as Pipe Seal or Quick-Lock are also available. “All of these adaptations can easily be connected to the existing PI.TRON filling robots using a bayonet lock. Specialist companies can therefore expand the range of applications as well as the added value of the robot systems in a modular manner,” said Roll. Since all adaptations are operated with the same control system and all system operators are familiar with the system, rehabilitation companies can also remain flexible when it comes to deploying their specialist staff. This also enables optimisation of system maintenance and service.
Kuchem GmbH - has grown to almost 100 employees in 50 years
Pipetronics was able to win over Kuchem with this system concept, which offers high investment security and future orientation. The company was founded in 1968 by Manfred Kuchem as a one-man side business in the agriculture sector and consisted of a Unimog and trailer for emptying pits as start-up capital. Over the last 50 years, it has grown into a high-tech, medium-sized company for sewers rehabilitation and maintenance. Aside from sewer cleaning, the main areas of responsibility include inspection, rehabilitation and leak testing.
Kuchem GmbH employs almost 100 people, with around 25 of them in the areas of specialist planning and administration. With a fleet of 80 special vehicles, the company employs the latest technological standards. With branches in Siegburg and Steinbach near Frankfurt am Main and a location in Montabaur, Kuchem GmbH also has a broad regional base. Despite all of this, the company remains a successful family-run business. In addition to the founders Manfred and Gerlinde Kuchem, their children Ralph and Annette have been Managing Partners in the company since 2008 and 2017 respectively.
Contact details and other information
Kleinscheider Straße 2
53819 Neunkirchen-Seelscheid, Germany
Tel.: +49 02247 9191
Pipetronics GmbH & Co. KG
76297 Stutensee, Germany
Tel.: +49 7244 9499386