What are the Differences Between a Push Camera, Crawler and Lateral Launch?

What is video pipe inspection (VPI)?

Video pipe inspection employs various types of robotic cameras to visually inspect pipes and other structures that could not be inspected otherwise.  Video pipe inspection can require several different tools depending on the field conditions and the type of pipe being inspected.

How can you tell what VPI equipment you will need?

We always want to make sure we ask our customers questions when they need video pipe inspection. The first question is what size is your pipe? For smaller than 6 inches we would recommend our push camera service. For pipes larger than 6 inches we recommend either a robotic crawler or lateral launch. While our crawler is generally used to inspect main lines, the lateral launch would be utilized when laterals or tie-ins need to be inspected. Our lateral launch has a second camera that can be launched in the lateral from the main to inspect both the mainline and laterals. 

What’s the difference between a push camera, robotic crawler, and lateral launch camera?

Push cameras are the most common types of cameras used in the field.  They are typically used for smaller diameter pipes and for lengths shorter than 200 feet.  A push camera is a camera connected to a cable reel. The camera is inserted into the line manually and pushed using the sturdy cable into the line.  A push camera can negotiate 45-degree turns and 90-degree sweeps depending on the diameter of the pipe.  Our cameras have self-leveling heads and the ability to record the images observed.  Push cameras are best used when the diameter of the pipe is smaller than 10 inches and if access to the line is limited such as a cleanout. The typical issues we come across are blockages, cracks, or collapsed pipes. Our push cameras are also used to help locate the lines.

Robotic crawlers are used in pipes as small as 6” but are generally used in larger diameter pipes.  Different-sized wheels can be switched out to adapt to larger pipes and interior conditions.  Crawlers are employed when access to the pipe is direct.  Such as from an opening in a manhole.  Crawler range is typically up to 1000’ feet although reel lengths can be longer.  Robotic Crawlers have other features that may include Pitch calculation, inclination, and diameter calculation.  We use this service to map out storm and sewer drains by locating, and inspecting. There are many problems you can find when inspecting the mainline with the robotic camera. There are times we find blockages, fractures, and restrictions of flow. We also have used our video pipe inspection service to locate manholes and structures when our customers need to know the locations along with just recommended routine inspections. Once our inspection is completed, we provide you with a NASSCO compliant report, along with recommendations. We offer pipe cleaning and pipe repair which is usually the most common additional services needed to get the pipe back to its original condition.  

Lateral Launch cameras are similar to Robotic Crawlers.  However, they have an additional feature.  They are like a push camera and a crawler combined.  The Crawler moves up a mainline and contains a secondary camera that can be deployed up a lateral.  This type of camera is used When there is no other way to inspect the lateral.  These types of cameras are most typically used to inspect sewer laterals for cross-bores.  A problem that can exist when you have a gas line in a lateral which is potentially very dangerous. Another issue is finding problems within the lateral such as root balls, blockages, and even cracks. The Hydro-Jetting service can help fix this problem by cleaning out the main and lateral. We would recommend at post-inspection as well for our clients to see the difference once we fix the problems. Most lateral launch cameras have a 900-foot range up a main while the extension up a lateral will typically max out at 100-200 feet.  

What type of reporting do you receive with VPI services?

Of course, all of these cameras are useless without proper training in operation and understanding of what is being observed. Our NASSCO, PACP, MACP, and LACP certified technicians at Trinity Subsurface Engineering can produce reports that compile findings in a way that is easy to understand and will save you time. We take pride in our tech-savvy but simple inspections and reporting. We are your one-stop-shop for your pipe services needs, from inspections to cleaning to repairs.

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