Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

FP7

TRACT Report Summary

Project ID: 606199
Funded under: FP7-SME
Country: Germany

Final Report Summary - TRACT (In-pipe flexible robot for water pipes inspection)

Executive Summary:
At worldwide level, the water is representing one of the main precious resource, with increasing consumptions with respect of its resources, therefore the water losses are urgent issues to take care of. At European level, recent studies have been performed and they estimate the water distribution networks losses to go around 30 to 40%, peaking to more than 50% in some Eastern European countries. It is clear that the economic impact and scarcity of public water sources mandate the development of a systemic leakage control program; while this would seem the most intuitive and feasible approach, currently no technology is reliable enough to be used to pinpoint every source of leak. It’s therefore paradoxical that a large share of such a scarce and crucial resource gets wasted: this happens because a considerable part of the more than 2 million km of the European Water Distribution Network has been built under extremely outdated standards and construction practices, and with technologies that are no longer appropriate.

To solve this issue, the TRACT project will introduce to the market an advanced water pipe monitoring system, consisting in a transport mechanism containing sensors for leakage detection and pipe condition monitoring, which can navigate and inspect water pipe structures of various diameter without the necessary precondition of shutting down the process of water distribution.

This valuable output of the TRACT project will be made available to water utilities clients through the successful delivery of the following Scientific and Technological Objectives:
1) Sensor system along with sensor fusion algorithms, which allow the inspection robot to detect and locate pipe damages, leakages, and scaling;
2) Software for mapping the pipeline network;
3) Pipe entry mechanism for a “hot tapping” drilling process, which will allow the inspection robot to enter water pipes without the need for shutting the pipes down;
4) Transport mechanism, which can carry the sensor system and navigate through water pipes in the range of 100 mm – 600 mm, covering the dimensional range of the majority of existing water supply pipes.

The main goal in the TRACT project and of the entire consortium is to make available such a technology, helping this way, the European Water Utilities, hopefully the International Water Utilities as well, to be able to inspect the pipes networks, by inspecting and anticipating any eventual pipes breakages, which can lead to major water quantity losses.
The TRACT consortium is formed by the strong participation of 4 SME’s: SubCtech GmbH (SUBC) and emma Technologies (EMMA) from Germany, Breivoll Inspection Technologies from Norway (BIT), and Topsonic UAB from Lithuania (TOP), 3 RTD’s performers: Stiftelsen Sintef from Norway (SINTEF), Istituto Tecnologico of Aragon from Spain (ITA) and LABOR srl from Italy (LABOR), one enterprise end-user, Acqualatina Spa from Italy (ACQUA).

Project Context and Objectives:
As per the project contract, the TRACT project has been devoted to attaining the following strategic goals with the activities performed under the specific 7 work packages, which were spread all along the duration of the two years project. From the technical side, the TRACT project was mostly devoted to achieve the following:
1. WP1 – the definition of the restrictions and constraints on the TRACT robot’s structure and the establishment of the end-user and system requirements, including external requirements;
2. WP2 – the layout for the TRACT system with identification of system components and interfaces; specifically the ultrasound sensors selection, design and realization of the signal conditioning electronics for pipe condition monitoring; the design, realization and implementation of the pipe entry mechanism and the robot transport mechanism;
3. WP3 – The development of a robot navigation software, including mapping algorithms and integration of the already existing ART signal processing algorithms of the TRACT Pipescanner, owned by BIT;
4. WP4 – implementation of the of the specific modules in a pilot prototype to be tested and customization of the prototypes, not lastly the refinement of the prototype in order to obtain the final system.
5. WP5 – extensive testing and complete validation of the TRACT system, the evaluation of the user and professional acceptance; not lastly, the study of the economic benefits of the solutions for all the stakeholders involved.
The Dissemination activities and management of the Consortium (WP6 and WP7) were continuous activities during the project, and produced outputs that are detailed in the following sections of this report. Herein a synthesis of the objectives obtained under these two work packages:
6. The establishment of initial discussions among the partners aimed at identifying targeted dissemination and exploitation actions that the Consortium will put into practice for an optimal diffusion and promotion of the TRACT project, together with the collection of preliminary ideas that will be useful for the preparation of a specific Plan for Use and Dissemination of Knowledge document, at Month 9, indicating the approach that will be adopted after the end of project for the product commercialization;
7. The ideation, creation and maintenance throughout the project of the dedicated dissemination channel, such as the website with a dedicated logo, the first and a second press release of the project, as well as the updated communication material, such as poster and brochure.
8. Presence and updates on social networks and partner company’s website of the project objective and activities.
Finally, let us consider the milestones list for the entire period of the project, reassumed in the table below:
• MS1, Requirements and Specification Matrix, to be delivered at M2, involving the WP1;
• MS2, TRACT hardware, at M9, involving the WP2;
• MS3, TRACT Software, at M12, involving the WP3;
• MS4, TRACT prototype, at M16, involving the WP4;
• MS5, Industrial validation of the TRACT system, at M24, involving the WP5.
Basic results have been fixed and achieved for the first period, as means of requirements and specifications of the system components, designs available of each TRACT subsystems, achieving this way the first two Milestones, respectively MS1 and MS2, although the core objectives of the project have been concentrated in the second period with the achievement of the remaining Milestones 3, 4 and 5.

Project Results:
FIRST REPORTING PERIOD
As per the contract, the project TRACT has been divided into 7 Work Packages, which were spread along the two years of project. Under the WP1 Application scenarios and concept development, the specifications have been collected from the SMEs, and have represented the basis for the definition of the technical requirements formulated by the RTD performers, it is considered that the present WP is concluded successfully, by submitting the D1.1 on the 20/01/2015, followed by the submission of the D1.2 Products Concept, on the 10/04/2014.
Under the WP2 the Hardware development, the objective was to create the layout of the TRACT subsystem the identification and the interfaces of its sub-components, which have led the creation and finally the submission of the following deliverables, due at M9 of the project: D2.1 Design of the pipe entry mechanism, submitted on 29/10/2014, D2.2 Design of the TRACT pipe entry mechanism, delivered on the 16/10/2014 and D2.3 Design of the TRACT transport mechanism, finalized and submitted on the 30/10/2014.
The WP3 Software development, dedicated to the development of a dedicated system software, able to motion control of the inspection robot, to develop the mapping algorithms and to port the already existing ART signal processing algorithms into the new sensor configuration. The activities of the WP3 were supposed to start in at M3, under the leadership of SINTEF, but the consortium, especially the involved RTDs have considered optimal to postpone these activities in the Second period of the project, having as outputs the following deliverables: D3.1 Design of the TRACT navigation software, D3.2 TRACT HMI, D3.3 Mapping algorithm and D3.4 Signal Processing Algorithm, responsibility of both Sintef and Labor.
Briefly, the technical activities of the first 9 months were mostly devoted to:
1. The definition of restrictions and constraints on the TRACT robot’s structure and the establishment of the end-user and system requirements, including external requirements;
2. The identification of the technical specifications for all components and different layout for single components.
3. Layout for the TRACT system with identification of system components and interfaces
4. Ultrasound sensors selection and design of the signal conditioning electronics for pipe condition monitoring,
5. Design of the pipe entry mechanism and design of the robot transport mechanism;
The WP6 has been dedicated to the definition of a dissemination plan and preliminary exploitation strategy, between the consortia partners, of the results and findings during the first period of the project. As main output of this work package, the following deliverable was submitted within the first nine months: D6.1 Plan for Use of Disseminating Knowledge 1, on the 29/10/2014; D6.3 Tract website on the 02/06/2014 and the D6.4 Consortium Agreement on the 31/01/2014. Concerning the exploitation and dissemination of results:
1. The establishment of initial discussions among the partners aimed at identifying targeted dissemination and exploitation actions that the Consortium will put into practice for an optimal diffusion and promotion of the TRACT project, together with the collection of preliminary ideas that will be useful for the preparation of a specific Plan for Use and Dissemination of Knowledge document, at Month 9, indicating the approach that will be adopted after the end of project for the product commercialization.
2. The ideation and creation of a preliminary dissemination channel, such as the website with a dedicated logo, the first press release of the project, as well as the communication material, such as poster and brochure.
The Consortium Management WP had as main aim the effectiveness and efficiency of the project activities, according to time schedule, budget and quality standards established, by carrying out the supervision of all the project activities, through specific tasks such as work planning, progress monitoring and re-scheduling in case of deviations, organization of general and technical meetings and communication with the REA. Also, one main task under this WP is also intended to perform constant verification of the work done by each partner, in accordance to what declared in the DoW, and to check and verify that deliverables and official documents foreseen by contract are submitted in due times, and are of suitable quality. The management activities imply also the overall contractual, legal and ethical, financial and administrative management activities of the consortium.
At the end of the first period, the D7.2 – Project Meeting Minutes 1 was made ready by the coordinator SubCtech at M9 and submitted on the 07/10/2014. In addition, a risk assessment has been performed and the definition of a risk mitigation plan has been formulated, having as main output the D7.1 Risk analysis and Mitigation Plan, submitted on the 09/10/2014.

SECOND REPORTING PERIOD
The period between M10 and M24 of the project has been mainly devoted to carry out three types of activities: technical, managerial and other activities, as the dissemination and exploitation of the project results. In the following page, we report the activities carried out in this period, as indicated in the project work-plan outlined in Annex I, dated 07/01/2014.
As evident from the Annex I, the work-plan at the end of the second period of the project foresees conclusion of the activities of the WP2 Hardware development, WP3 Software development, WP4 System integration, the WP5 Field tests, while the activities performed and classified as Other and Management, such the WP7 project management and WP6 dissemination and exploitation have been planned to be continuous activities during the project lifetime.
The specific objectives of each ongoing Work Package, and the expected deliveries for the period are reassumed in this section. The WP2, Hardware development, led by Labor was intended to design the hardware components of the TRACT system, performed in respect of the cost effectiveness, regulations and standard requirements, as well as, easiness of use and implementation of these components in the whole system. The output of performing the tasks, within this WP, was the D2.4 TRACT sub-systems mock-ups, submitted to REA on the 08/01/2015. The activities of the WP3 were supposed to start in at M3, under the leadership of SINTEF, but the consortium, especially the RTDs have considered optimal to start these activities in the Second period of the project, having as outputs the following deliverables: D3.1 Design of the TRACT navigation software, D3.2 TRACT HMI, D3.3 Mapping algorithm and D3.4 Signal Processing Algorithm, responsibility of both Sintef and Labor, which were all submitted in August 2015. This WP had as objective the development of a navigation software for motion control of the inspection robot, to develop the mapping algorithms and to port the already existing ART signal processing algorithms into the new sensor configuration.
The objective of the WP4, System integration was the integration of the specific modules in a first prototype to be tested and the onsite integration and customization of the prototypes to be tested, not lastly the refinement of the prototype in order to obtain the final system. The work package was led by LABOR, in collaboration with other RTD of the project, and it started at M13 up to the month M22 and it has produced the following deliverable, D4.1 TRACT Prototype, (M16), LABOR, submitted on the 28/08/2015.
The WP5 dedicated to the Field Tests, had the objective of testing the first prototype on-site and the refinement of the prototype in order to obtain the final system. The work package is led by LABOR, in collaboration with other RTD of the project, and it started at M13 up to the month M22 and it has produced the following deliverables: D5.1 Field test protocol submitted on the 24/07/2015, D5.2 Report on Pilot project results, LABOR and D5.3 Economic assessment of the TRACT implementation, leader BIT, submitted at the End of the project.
The WP6 has been dedicated on the utilization of the results and findings during the project for following the dissemination and exploitation route, defined in the First period, with all the interested SME’s, with the aim of obtaining the final system’s introduction on the market after the end of the project. Under the task of exploitation, different activities were planned to transfer and to promote the further use of the TRACT project’s results. The dissemination activities were focused to communicate the state of the art of the project, as well as the key results and developments achieved during the project. The aim was to create awareness and interactions between the consortium and other parties, at national level and international level, considering also other end user and target groups. As main output of this work package, the following deliverable was submitted at the end of the project by BIT.
The Consortium Management WP had accomplished the monitoring of the technical and non-technical activities of the project partners, according to time schedule, budget and quality standards predefined and established through the consortium agreements and in accordance to what declared in the DoW. Also, the coordinator was in charge of the supervision of all the project activities, through specific tasks such as work planning, progress monitoring and re-scheduling in case of deviations, organization of general and technical meetings and communication with the REA. The management activities imply also the overall contractual, legal and ethical, financial and administrative management activities of the consortium. At the end of project, the D7.2 – Project Meeting Minutes 2 was made ready by the coordinator SubCtech at M24 and submitted on the 16/12/2015.

Potential Impact:
Market objectives and expected benefits for the SMEs
The objective of BIT is to become leader in the market niche dedicated to in-pipe inspection robots, with special focus to provide and to distribute it to the SME’s of the project, in the terms agreed and set in the contract and the exploitation strategy, having already a leading role in the market for the inspection of water pipe networks, through its assessment of pipe condition and leakage as a service (current business model) and potentially also by selling TRACT units (new business model).

A. Servicing proposition – condition assessment as a service:
Breivoll estimates the following potential for the servicing proposition:
⇒ In Norway 10 km in first year of full commercialisation, rising to 30 km in year three.
⇒ Other Scandinavian countries 5 km in first year of full commercialisation, rising to 10 km in year three.
⇒ In the remaining EU market 10 km in first year of full commercialisation, rising to 40 km in year three.
B. Selling proposition – sale of TRACT units:
Breivoll estimates the following potential for the selling proposition:
⇒ 20 units globally in first year of full commercialisation.
⇒ 40 units globally in second year of full commercialisation.
⇒ 60 units globally in third year of full commercialisation.

Moreover for each partner, a strategy for the best exploiting strategy has been set and a strong collaboration is implemented between the partners for the further production, assembling and selling the TRACT robot, as reported herein and summarized in the below table:
• BREIVOLL:
- the manufacturer and supplier of the entry mechanism developed by ITA and will perform the integration with the winch and tether.
- Provider of the navigation software
• Emma:
- is the unique supplier and producer of the winch and tether for the assembling stage of the robot at BIT premises and for further commercialization
• SubCtech:
- is the direct manufacturer and supplier of the sensor system, including electronics, for the final robot implementation by BIT.
- the manufacturer of the mechanical and electronic parts for BIT, with whom the robot will be assembled and for the future commercialization.
- supplier of the TRACT data logger and the sensor system
• Topsonic:
- manufacturer and the direct supplier of the rotating acoustic system to BIT and unique supplier for the system in other possible market applications.

List of Websites:
The website has represented the main interface with the public and the target audience of the TRACT technology during the entire project duration, which can be found on the following link: http://www.tractproject.eu/

Related information

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SUBCTECH GMBH
Germany
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