Talking trenchless with Stephen Waring

Trenchless International talks to Emagineered Solutions CEO Stephen Waring, creator of THE SHOOTER cured-in-place pipe (CIPP) inversion machine.

How did you get your start in the industry?

I’m a civil engineer from Oregon, with a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering. I started out as a labourer for a company that happened to be in the sewer pipe cleaning and fixing business.

In 1972, a company I went to work for, also as a labourer, was doing grouting, sewer pipes and CCTV inspections, which was the beginning of the modern era of sewer pipe work. The company was doing some sliplining then; for instance we would pull polyethylene (PE) pipe into older sewers.

I worked at that job as a labourer and foreman for a couple of years, and did some dig and replace work too. Then I went back to university at Oregon State and studied civil engineering. When I graduated in 1977, I continued on with the same company.

It was an interesting time to start in the industry because Insituform had just come to the US and the company I worked for was one of the first four companies in North America that had bought one of the original licenses in North America. That company was called Underground Surveys and they worked out of California.

The company had a demonstration project that summer in Fresno and it was the first time they had ever done an installation in North America and I was there for that. However, Underground Survey’s entry into the business sputtered and faltered and it was setback for close to five years until Insituform in North America revived it and again it was developing licensees like us.

I was based on the west coast at the time, so we continued on and were an early pioneer in the Insituform world and process. It was a lot of fun back then, we were making an industry! We were missionaries in sales and were refining the process.

We had to sell it. It was something that nobody had used before so we had to convince them of a lot of things before they would buy a project. That’s why I call it the missionary phase: because you had to go out and introduce the idea to people, explain it to them, and when they bought it you had to go and complete the work – a new experience too.

At that time the resins were unstable compared to now and we didn’t have the wealth of experience in accomplishing projects. It was a great experience, we learned a lot of things and stretched ourselves to the limit.

How did these early experiences contribute to your desire to pursue a career in the trenchless sector?

I thought it was a fascinating industry. We were using a lot of new tools and processes to do something and I never wanted to be a design engineer. I always preferred construction and that hands-on side of things.

I did get licenced as a professional engineer, but I haven’t done much design work; however, I have done some design-build work within the pipe rehabilitation sphere back in 1979, when I was involved with a sliplining project at a paper mill. It was pioneering in the size and scope of the project and included the installation of a very long, heavy liner for a 36 inch (915 mm) bleach sewer on a shutdown schedule in the paper mill.

It was also a lot of fun. There were a lot of temperature changes and debris in the pipe that made it intriguing. PE is pretty sensitive to temperature changes, as it changes length when it heats up.

What is your current role and what does it involve?

I have developed a company called Emagineered Solutions which manufactures THE SHOOTER, an inversion machine for cured-in-place pipe (CIPP) and liners. I am CEO of the company and we’ve been in business as Emagineered for 20 years.

I’m joined by my son Grant as President; he’s also a graduate engineer out of Berkley and Stanford. I’m still involved in the marketing and management of Emagineered, but the day-to-day activities are more a function of Grant and his people.

How was THE SHOOTER developed and what impact has it had on the industry?

I developed and began marketing THE SHOOTER in the late 1990s. It’s one of the two products Emagineered has, the other is a process I developed for fixing leaks in dams; although it’s unrelated, THE SHOOTER has some roots there, it’s what gave me the seed for creating the machine.

THE SHOOTER for dam repair.

When I was working with the Paltem process, another CIPP lining product, we were using big drums for inversion and always had this hankering that it would be nice to develop a box that would do a continuous inversion so we could do away with the large pressure tanks.

That’s what THE SHOOTER was able to accomplish: a continuous inversion without a large pressure tank. The development of the machine has enabled the industry to go to an air and steam cure paradigm, which was a landmark change.

Its introduction has resulted in increased productivity and safety. We no longer needed high towers for the water inversion in the streets, we were able to just do it with a little low-level box, and in quick inversions. A steam cure – we call it an air steam cure because it’s really a mixture – is much quicker than a water cure, where you’re heating water.

The introduction of the machine resulted in a quantum leap in productivity, which has affected the industry as a whole. The cost per metre of installation is now incredibly low compared to what it used to be.

When crews are using THE SHOOTER, they are doing around 10–20 inversions a week with a five to six person crew, which is incredible compared to the what we were able to do with water.

Are there any memorable projects that stand out?

There were quite a few of them. We did a lot of industrial work, one of which was a huge job over a course of many years for the Alaska pipeline terminal in Valdez, Alaska on the ballast water system there, which was pioneering.

We also did some intriguing jobs for the City of Seattle and the City of San Francisco. In many ways, they didn’t really stand out, but they do now for that period of time.

In the early 1990s, I left the west coast and went to work for what was then Insituform, later becoming Insituform Technologies.

I was in the Dallas area for a year or so, then I went up to Saint Louis and I took over what was called the Paltem process, which is another CIPP lining system that’s marketed to gas and water pipes.

It’s a Japanese product – one of the early liners – and we took a licence and were marketing it to the North American market. We did some work in the water systems, which are much like gas and different to gravity sewers in how you approach them.

They’re much more difficult to enter, to do the preliminary inspections on and just to get into the pipe and to clean it. It was much more involved – you had to dig a pit and remove a spool and get into the pipe.

Those difficulties are what have affected the evolution of the water segment of the pipe rehabilitation business. Sewers are much easier to operate in than pressure pipes, be it gas or water, so the water sector has been slower to develop.

What developments have you seen across your time in the CIPP industry?

When we introduced THE SHOOTER we were able to evolve the industry to an air inversion and steam cure paradigm, which was a radical change. Now we see the evolution towards curing using ultraviolet (UV) light as a paradigm shift from the thermal cures.

That’s proceeding, but it’s proceeding slowly. There are some barriers to the UV cure, for a larger diameter certainly and it remains to be seen how successful they’ll be in larger diameters or even medium diameters. That’s where it’s at right now, that transition towards the UV energy source
for curing.

How does the future hold for the CIPP industry?

I think the popularity of CIPP will continue to grow in the future. It’s got all the fundamentals and has scaled up considerably in North America. I know in other markets like Australia spiral wound liners are popular, although there are companies who are using more and more CIPP.

Each of these relining methods is competing against different ways of doing it. In rural areas, sometimes it’s just still cheaper to dig; however, in the cities, open cut is too expensive, making CIPP the cheaper solution.

What are Emagineered Solutions’ plans for the future?

Some of Emagineered’s more recent developments include the addition of a lubrication system and a knife gate to THE SHOOTER, enabling the machine to invert without losing pressure. Both of those are noteworthy advancements.

In addition, the company is continuing to develop and improve the machine, as well as the other processes in the dam leak product.

We’re active in both of those fields, so we’re making refinements and improvements, as well as focusing on adding new products to support and complement those processes.

This article was featured in the Spring edition of Trenchless International. To view the magazine on your PC, Mac, tablet, or mobile device, click here.

For more information visit the Emagineered website.

If you have a project you would like featured in Trenchless International contact Assistant Editor Chloe Jenkins at cjenkins@gs-press.com.au

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