"Sewer rehabilitation robots should become more self-sufficient and intelligent"
Interview with both Pipetronics General Managers, Christian Noll and Markus Brechwald on the challenges faced by the sewer rehabilitation sector, digitization and automation options and their new company's goal.
Where do you see the biggest trends and challenges in sewer rehabilitation?
Christian Noll: We believe that future developments in the sewer rehabilitation sector will mainly be determined by two factors: The 'efficiency' and the 'human' factor. In Germany and other countries, the public budget is becoming more frequently tight to very tight, which is why tenders favour the most competitive bidder. For this reason, the efficient execution of rehabilitation is a question of competitiveness for all sewer maintenance providers - and a question of how quickly and independently robots can accomplish their tasks is becoming more important. In terms of the 'human' factor, many sewer rehabilitation companies face the problem of finding and keeping suitable employees. The operators are specialists that are high in demand with special technical skills and expectations of their workplace. If sewer maintenance providers want to obtain sufficient operators in the future, they must offer them more than in the past - and this also means that sewer maintenance robots must be easier, more comfortable and intuitive to operate than before.
As a new provider, how does Pipetronics want to meet these challenges?
Markus Brechwald: If you compare sewer rehabilitation robotics with other fields of technology, an astonishing asynchronicity amongst dynamics of development becomes apparent. While the two mega-trends - digitization and automation - have not only revolutionised most industrial sectors but the daily lives of many people as well, digitization and automation in sewer rehabilitation robotics has moved forward at a very slow speed during the previous decades. These technologies can ensure substantial development, particularly in sewer rehabilitation robotics. Firstly, they make it possible to perform reconstruction services at a lower cost. Secondly, it creates a completely new user experience for the operators. At Pipetronics, it is our goal to use the possibilities provided by artificial intelligence and digitization for the sewer rehabilitation sector. Sewer rehabilitation robots should become more self-sufficient and intelligent.
Why have RELINEROBOTICS, Pipe-Robo-Tec and ITK Engineering joined forces to achieve this goal?
Christian Noll: Fundamental further development in sewer rehabilitation robotics requires combined efforts. This applies both with regard to economic requirements and professional expertise. The merging of competencies in sewer rehabilitation robotics with competencies in automation technology, like we have done by founding Pipetronics, is unique so far in the sewer rehabilitation sector. Sewer rehabilitation robots are a small, extreme niche with low unit quantities and a high service life of the systems. In order to make future-proof systems available to the market, the bundling of strengths is the only right way - also in terms of investment protection through service and maintenance. Fast service of robots on the construction site has become hugely important. Longer downtimes have a negative impact on progress on site. Also as part of the internationalisation strategy, faster and more effective service is a major factor for success. With the options that Pipetronics can now offer, solutions can also immediately be created in different countries.
Further development of the subject of controlling in sewer robotics is a critical factor for success - not only for us, but for sewer maintenance in general. Michael Englert from ITK is a visionary IT-thinker who we have on board for this task. With hundreds of software engineers and decades of experience in the development of controls in the automotive field, his company is the perfect partner. With the industry experience that we bring to the table and the software intelligence that ITK brings, we are optimally steeled to face the task that we are here to solve. At the same time, this also creates the only possibility to ensure long-term service for existing systems at a qualitatively high level.