Coffey Northumbrian gets ultra-SMART about pressure testing with Groundforce

11 Jun

Coffey Northumbian gets ultra-SMART about pressure testing with Groundforce

SMART system helps save time and money on water mains pressure testing.
A next-generation data logging system from specialist construction services supplier Groundforce is helping to get pressure tests and certification for a major water main network refurbishment completed in double-quick time.

Groundforce’s new SMART pipe testing system is being used by main contractor Coffey Northumbrian* on Irish Water’s national leakage reduction programme, specifically in the South and South East regions. The programme sees €500 million invested over the next four years to reduce the high level of leakages across the country by fixing or replacing ageing water mains.

Their target is to save approximately 166 million litres of water per day - enough water to fill 66 Olympic-size swimming pools. But equally, it will help ensure a safe, reliable water supply which is vital for the country’s health, environment and growing population and economy.

Pressure tests are required when a new main is installed, to confirm that no leaks exist. The most commonly specified test standard, the IGN Type 2, requires the water main to be tested to 1.5 times its maximum operating pressure – usually over 10 bar. 

For PE pipes, this pressure causes the main to expand, with a consequential drop in pressure. This loss in pressure is recorded over time using a data logger, with the results downloaded manually at the end of the test and plotted on a graph to determine whether or not the test has passed. 

But this method is quite time consuming as the result is not known until sometime after the test is complete, and should the new main fail, it requires time to rest before re-testing, with the required rest period being three times the overall test time. In some cases, this can be days.

Coffey Northumbrian are now using Groundforce’s new SMART data logger, which links with smart phones via an App and is fully compliant with IGN requirements, on a large number of water projects in Ireland.

Cathal Kerrigan, Coffey Construction operations manager said: “We were very impressed with the SMART system. It’s very easy to set the logger up with the test equipment and very quick to get the results. Every test we have done was witnessed by an employer’s representative and after each test I was able to download the test certificate immediately through the Groundforce website and have it signed off on site.

“This was a real benefit and meant that payment for that particular length of mains could be applied for that same day. Groundforce were very helpful and were at hand to deal with any technical issues and guidance required.”

The App takes users through the test set-up on screen, providing real-time data and an early warning in the event of a failure. Then once the test is passed, an independently-verified test certificate is available to download. Key features also include failure analysis, recommendations, GPS location data and images. 

As well as the Bluetooth data logger, which gives an instantaneous guide to the status of the test, air removal achieved, STPs being reached and the likelihood of a pass, the SMART pipe testing system supplied to Coffey Northumbrian included a high flow test pump, calibrated gauge, test flanges and flange adapters. 

The system allows site staff to carry out other duties while the test is running after first process checks have been carried out by the App and another android user can take over the testing process to see the progress being made. Developed in conjunction with Control Point, all data stored is on the Control Point “JointManager” website for analysing or downloading of the test certificates.

Groundforce can also provide a range of pressure testing pumps with flows between 18 and 200 litres per minute, with the larger pumps significantly reducing the overall test time on large-diameter and longer sections of pipe. All are available to hire from Groundforce’s depot in Portlaoise.

*Coffey Northumbrian Ltd is a Joint Venture specifically formed to deliver Irish Water’s domestic water meters’ installation programme. It comprises one of Britain’s leading UK water and wastewater services organisations and one of Ireland’s leading construction and water infrastructure companies.