Compact Pipe deployed from a drum and pulled through an existing pipeline.

Compact Pipe® improves efficiency of water pipeline distribution networks

URBAN water distribution issues in the country are highly associated with ageing pipelines, frequent bursts and leakage, and overall supply interruption.

Most water pipes in the distribution networks – be it of mild steel (MS), asbestos cement (AC), high-density polyethylene (HDPE) or others – are ageing, being between 30 and 40 years old. Due to fatigue, a high number of leaks or burst pipes are recorded weekly, usually from AC pipes nearing the end of their lifespan.

Exacerbating this already critical problem is the location of water distribution networks in the cities – in high traffic areas or busy commercial sites. This complicates repair works for damaged water mains and distribution pipes.

To ensure uninterrupted supply of water to consumers, damaged pipes would still need to be repaired or replaced. If done conventionally using the open-cut or trenching method, the installation will involve massive excavation, executing new pipes at a depth of between 1m and 6m, and creating an open trench along the entire work route.

This can take days to complete, often resulting in inconvenience to city dwellers.

Trenchless technology

The close-fit and trenchless technique of the Compact Pipe system provides the alternative solution to water pipe rehabilitation and replacement – shorter installation time, less hassle and more durable.

Offering a structurally independent pipe with the quality and durability of a newly installed pipe, the trenchless technique – in other words, minimal excavation – has proven to be the best option in times when convenience to urban dwellers, road users and businesses matters.

Compact Pipe is a new pipe rehabilitation and replacement technology by the Netherlands-based Wavin Oversea BV. It meets all requirements stipulated in the European Standards (EN) and International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO), having prerequisites in rigorous testing and quality control on manufactured and installed products to ensure product integrity and reliability.

It is also approved by the Suruhanjaya Perkhidmatan Air Negara (SPAN), having met all the prerequisites set forth by the Commission.

In Malaysia, SmartPipe Technology Sdn Bhd (SPT), a subsidiary of Kumpulan Perangsang Selangor Berhad (KPS), has the exclusive rights to market, sell and install Compact Pipe and plastic pipe systems and other related Wavin products.

How it works

To install the Compact Pipe, excavation work is restricted to only two small start and end pits – start pit to insert the pipe into the host or defective pipe, and end pit to receive it.

Before inserting the Compact Pipe, the defective old pipe will first be assessed of its usability. It is then cleaned to remove any sludge, sediment and rust.

Then, C-shaped folded Compact Pipe – thus having its cross section reduced – is inserted into the defective old pipe. Once inserted, the Compact Pipe is reversed with steam. Due to the “memory effect” of polyethylene, the C-shaped Compact Pipe regains its original shape using pressurised air during the cooling process. It is then brought in close contact to and hugs the inner wall of the defective old pipe, hence the close-fit technique of Compact Pipe.

Once in close contact, Compact Pipe reduces the inner diameter or the cross section of the old pipe by at most 10%. However, there is little or no operational impact from this.

“With the increase in hydraulic capacity, even though the inside diameter of the old pipe is reduced, consumers may find that the water flow becomes more efficient due to the much smoother inner surface,” said SPT General Manager Zaki Zainol Abidin.

The result of the close-fit technique is a structurally independent pipe with the quality and durability of a newly installed pipe. Even if the old pipe breaks in future, the new pipe will still maintain its shape and function.

Having a minimum durability of 50 years, Compact Pipe comes in a drum of 200m to 600m-run, which is substantially longer than AC and other HDPE pipes in the market. What this means is that Compact Pipe requires fewer joints during installation. Fewer joints mean reduced likelihood of leakages, because joints are the weakest point of a pipeline.

When the new pipeline is in place, it is connected to the water distribution network using fittings such as electrofusion couplers, flanges, butt-fusion, or other mechanical connections.

Compact Pipe® in Malaysia

Compact Pipe, which ranges from 100-500mm in diameter, is also suitable for areas where there are several underground utilities network, making excavation not possible or even dangerous to those in the surrounding areas.

Last year, SPT completed two successful Compact Pipe pilot projects. The first pilot project for Pengurusan Air Selangor Sdn Bhd took place at Taman Bukit Anggerik in Cheras, Kuala Lumpur. The demonstration showcased the first ever trenchless, close-fit Compact Pipe water pipe replacement solution.

The project impressed with how easy it was to install, test and commission 300m-run Compact Pipe, replacing the existing AC pipe in a busy motorway without causing much fuss. The installation process was completed within just one working day.

The second project took place in Jalan Dato’ Hj Ahmad Said in Butterworth, Penang – a demonstration for Perbadanan Bekalan Air Pulau Pinang Sdn Bhd. This time, SPT demonstrated the technology’s competitive advantage in water pipe rehabilitation, when repairing a 100m-run AC pipe. Despite the location being in an urban commercial area, the rehabilitation process did not create major disruption to traffic and businesses in the area, and the installation process was completed before the end of the day.

“Following the success of these two pilot projects, SPT has started exploring with state water operators and asset owners the prospect of using the Compact Pipe system in pipe rehabilitation and replacement projects for water distribution networks in the country,” said KPS Managing Director/Group Chief Executive Officer Ahmad Fariz Hassan.

Solution to sustainability

Compact Pipe’s key social advantage includes short installation times and minimal disruption to traffic flow and the public, while its commercial advantage is premised on lower likelihood of future leakages.

The Compact Pipe system can help reduce non-revenue water (NRW) by managing leakage in water distribution networks.

High readings of NRW which can run into millions of cubic meters of water seriously affects the financial viability of water utilities through loss of revenue and increased operational costs.

By managing leakages, water utilities companies will be able to maintain NRW at a more sustainable and economically optimal level.

Compact Pipe has the technology that caters to that, and its value proposition is premised on reducing waste of water resources and increasing the capacity for water utilities to be more sustainable operations-wise.

As reference, about 2,000km of Compact Pipe have been installed worldwide. The system has been used extensively in mega cities like Paris, Melbourne, Shanghai and Hong Kong as a smarter solution to rehabilitating and replacing urban water distribution networks. In Hong Kong, the employment of the Compact Pipe system saw Hong Kong’s NRW level dropping substantially from 27% in 2000 to 15% in 2015.

Closer to home, NRW varies from one state to another, ranging from 24% to 76%. Imagine that in terms of millions of cubic meters of treated water lost. Then imagine that in hundreds of millions of ringgit gone in terms of revenue.

If we do not act fast in conserving our water, we may not be able to cater to growing demand for it from an increasing population. At national level, the Government is looking to reduce NRW to 31% by 2020.

The unique value proposition of the Compact Pipe pipe rehabilitation and replacement system provides competitive environmental, social and long-term economic advantages over current available technology.

As an engineering company offering integrated solutions to water and other utility companies, SmartPipe Technology Sdn Bhd can offer its rehabilitation and replacement service to improve the efficiency of water pipeline distribution networks.

“Compact Pipe system is not just a pipe. It is a solution to sustainable development for the country,” Ahmad Fariz concluded.

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