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Posted: Monday 4th April 2011

A brand new technique for replacing lead or leaking domestic water and communication pipes, the Kobus Pipe Puller cuts the cost of both planned replacement programmes and emergency repairs.

The Pipe Puller, which can replace lead, copper or MDPE pipes with new MDPE pipe without the need to dig trenches, is the new innovative alternative to trenching and moling. Proven on both lead replacement programmes and emergency repairs applications the Kobus Pipe Puller is not only faster and cheaper than previous techniques but also will no damage other underground services or affect traffic flow while the work is undertaken, making it an ideal way for water companies to meet their leakage targets.

The Kobus Pipe Puller takes a new and innovative approach to removing lead or leaking water pipes by feeding a calibrated steel cable through the pipe to be removed and filling the pipe with special formula Kobite which bonds with the pipe to create a single ‘composite rope’. The cable is then attached to the new MDPE pipe to be pulled through and as the old pipe is pulled out, the new pipe replaces it.

The range of calibrated cables and adjustable force of the pulling by the computer-controlled unit ensures that the old pipe slides out of the ground evenly and the new pipe is pulled exactly into the space that it has left behind.

Cost savings for the water company and contractor are considerable primarily through the reduced cost ‘per pull’ of up to 75%. Other considerable cost saving benefits are reduced cost of damage to other services; the revenue from recycling the lead; less reinstatement time; and the reduced liaison time and planning around road closures. The Pipe Puller itself costs less than £20,000.

Unlike previous attempts to ‘pull’ water pipes, the Kobus system applies the pulling force evenly along the full length of the pipe because of the bonding of the pipe and cable with the Kobite. This ensures that the pipe will slide out steadily rather that bunching or buckling, leaving the space for the new pipe to follow in behind.

Pipes with complex turns and of lengths of up to 25m can be replaced with only a hole around 12” x 12” at either end. In addition, there is no risk to damaging other services in the road as in moling because the new pipe exactly replaces the position of the old.

“The system is ideal for both the repair of water leaks and the lead replacement programmes currently being undertaken by the water authorities to meet the water quality regulations to be introduced in 2012, enabling the water companies to complete the programmes both cheaper and quicker,” said the system’s inventor Kobus Cilliers. “Extensive trials by water authorities have shown that the Kobus Pipe Puller is a great addition to their armoury of techniques for pipe removal, and provides the neatest and quickest solution with the least disruption to the general public,” he concluded.

Because the old lead pipe is always removed from the ground it can be recycled. It is estimated that a water company removing 10,000 lead water pipes averaging 10m long as part of a lead replacement programme will enable the recycling of 350 metric tonnes of lead (more than £500,000) which would otherwise be left in the ground.

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