Saur Group works alongside local authorities in France to produce, manage and supply drinking water across the country. A key part of this service provision is maintaining the pipe network and carrying out repairs when necessary.
Saur Group approached us last year to see if we could provide a solution to an on-going problem that was causing concern. Water supply pipes are predominantly concentrated in urban areas, with the block valves that control water flow situated in the middle of busy roads and streets. So whenever Saur’s operation technicians need to open a valve for maintenance or repair, they are working in areas of heavy traffic with all the dangers that involves.
Equally, much of the water supply pipe network is now almost 100 years old, and many of the original manual block valves (opened and closed by turning an iron rod inserted in the hand-wheel) have deteriorated over time becoming more difficult to manoeuvre. This means that operators are having to exert greater force to open the valves, increasing the threat of repetitive strain injury - notably tennis elbow - as well as the risk of opening the block valve too quickly and creating a water hammer effect which can cause serious damage in a water supply system.
Saur Group was seeking a way to manage these valves that offered greater protection to both operators and the overall water system.
Working together, we adapted our portable pneumatic valve actuator to fulfil their requirements. Powered by compressed air, the tool has an adaptable head that can fit on to the hand-wheel of any valve to carry out the rotating action. Rather than two operators exerting equal pressure on each end of an iron rod fixed to the hand-wheel, the procedure requires just one operator to set up the tool and hold it in place. The technician is stationary, therefore better able to observe the traffic, and there is no risk of occupational strain or injury as the portable actuator is doing all the hard work. It also does the work in around half the time!
The other major advantage of our pneumatic actuator is that it opens and closes the block valves at a controlled speed, thereby eliminating the danger of water hammer effect which can prove so costly. It will also simply stop turning if the force applied threatens to break the valve. Furthermore, the tool is powered by compressed air rather than electricity, which is an obvious safety advantage in the water industry.
Health and safety is a major issue for Saur Group – both the safety of their personnel working on busy roads, and the safety of their equipment – and we were pleased to work with the company to find a unique solution to their needs. Our portable pneumatic actuator helps to improve the security of both their employees and their supply system, while at the same time improving operational efficiency.