Since its founding by local pioneer Jean-Louis Frey in 1987, Esor Tuboseal has established itself as a master in a highly specialised discipline that enables pipes to be cleaned, rehabilitated or repaired almost completely underground without disturbances at surface level.

With proven techniques and delivery, Esor Tuboseal created the cured-in-place pipe (CIPP) market with customers and contractors in the Western Cape and a number of other provinces, before expanding its footprint as far north as Bulawayo. The company has earned a solid track record among municipal authorities and major players in the construction industry and remains committed to retaining the credibility of trenchless technology.

Wessel van Zyl, CEO of Esor, regards the development as a strategic diversification into the burgeoning market of infrastructure maintenance and rehabilitation, with a major focus on pipelines.

Essential to the preservation of infrastructure

Many parts of South Africa are facing pipe rehabilitation and replacement challenges, with several municipalities and businesses piping water and sewage in lines that are 50 or more years old. Where areas have been built up over time, gaining access to these pipes by digging is often not an option.

“Safety is the first consideration. Many lines were laid at depths of between 4 m and 15 m, which would entail highly disruptive excavations to create a safe working area with adequate support to protect the crew. In any event, the likelihood of the presence of other utility lines like power cables would make this impossible,” says Van Zyl. Moreover, accessing pipelines installed under or alongside major freeways and link roads would cause unacceptable disruptions to traffic flows.

 Successfully meeting technical challenges

Daniel Bruwer, technical solutions specialist: Research and Development, Esor Tuboseal, describes two recent projects in which trenchless technology was applied.

The first was repairs to a 17 m deep cracked underground pipe at Eskom’s Kusile power station. The pipeline was impossible to excavate as it lies beneath permanent structures.

“Having established the exact location of the damaged section, we designed and installed a CIPP liner capable of withstanding groundwater pressure and soil loads at a depth of 17 m, thereby reinforcing and sealing the damaged pipe for a full design life of 50 years. The repair took less than eight hours and was carried out without any disruption to services on-site,” says Bruwer.

The second project was the rehabilitation of the BlackMac bulk sewage pipeline, a key conduit between the Cape Town suburbs of Blackheath and Macassar, which had degraded beyond use.

A CCTV inspection was the vital first step in the rehabilitation process. After several viability studies, the city appointed Aurecon Consulting Engineers to manage the trenchless rehabilitation project, comprising the CIPP lining of more than 3 300 m of bulk sewer pipes ranging from 800 mm to 1 200 mm in diameter, crossing underneath the N2 freeway and Baden Powell Drive.

After being awarded the contract, Esor Tuboseal immediately began the careful logistical planning required in an environmentally sensitive and often inaccessible area. The construction programme was expedited to ensure cleaning, final design, material manufacturing, shipping lead times and installation happened concurrently, placing the project firmly on track for completion ahead of programme and the rainy season.

Preserving environmental integrity

“The rehabilitated pipeline runs alongside an ecologically sensitive wetland and the use of trenchless technology ensures that the ecological impact of the project is negilable. Already 40% complete, we are on track to complete 3 300 m of pipeline renewal without any significant excavations required,” says Bruwer.

Esor Tuboseal also adapted its hot-water curing process to incorporate a high-perfomance water-cooling system, which enables the recycling of process water and a saving of more than three million litres of drinking water amid critical water shortages in the Western Cape.

On the horizon

Research and development is a strategic priority at Esor Tuboseal and 2018 is, quite literally, expected to be a watershed year. It will be introducing new high-pressure CIPP products using specially developed resins and composite materials compatible for safe use in potable water systems and capable of withstanding pressures of up to 40 bar. Municipalities and other high-volume users of water for domestic consumption can now have ageing pipe systems rehabilitated, ensuring a clean, safe and efficient flow of drinking water to households and individuals.

“Esor Tuboseal’s ability to offer a one-stop shop of tailored products and services is what sets it apart in the market place,” says Van Zyl.

Best in the business

“With services as varied as CCTV inspection, pipe cracking, pipe cleaning, patch lining, CIPP and robotic cutting, we can provide a range of options and methodologies under each of these categories. Esor Tuboseal also possesses the skills and expertise of arguably the best technical team in the business,” says Van Zyl.

Invaluable to the Esor Tuboseal value chain are several overseas manufacturers of lining materials and associated equipment with which the company has built sound relationships over several years.

A valuable by-product from these collaborations has been the refinement of CIPP technology for the local market, which Van Zyl rates as being the obvious way forward in meeting rugged African conditions.