The inside story of pipelines - thanks to CCTV

Closed circuit television (CCTV) is an extremely useful technology for inspecting the condition of pipelines and conduits - from the inside. Trenchless Australia has produced a handy guide to the technology and its use.

The guide, billed as ‘The Ultimate Guide to CCTV’, is free thanks to sponsorship from a couple of vendors of CCTV pipeline inspection systems - Seca, a supplier of equipment for cleaning, testing and rehabilitation sewers, and Austeck one of the largest suppliers of pipeline inspection equipment in Australia - and one inspection services provider, Water Infrastructure Group.

In addition to general information about CCTV technology it contains sections on these companies and a directory that lists almost 100 inspection service providers.

One thing that might surprise you is that CCTV inspection of pipes has been around since the 1950s, when simple black & white TV cameras were pulled through pipelines. Given the size of units in those days, the technique would have been limited to fairly large pipelines.

Today cameras can be made very tiny, and one recent innovation has overcome another limitation: lighting. “Undoubtedly the biggest leap forward in CCTV inspection cameras was the move to LED lighting,” the guide says. “The LEDs use less power and have a much longer life span than the older halogen lamp technology. This has extended inspection ranges and decreased down time considerably.”

And in this day and age, in certain cases, the camera does not even need to travel along the pipe. With zoom technology a camera placed in one end of a pipe zooms up the pipe, optically and digitally. “This method is a quick portable inspection tool that allows for a quick check of pipelines to ascertain what further actions are needed,” the guide says.

There are other more exotic techniques: still picture cameras that take as many images per second as the number of frames with video, but as a series of still images. According to the guide this technique provides images of very high quality and clarity.

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