Under Pressure ...

Under Pressure ...


Rand Water is the largest bulk water utility in Africa and one of the largest in the World, providing bulk potable water to more than 11 million people in Gauteng, parts of Mpumalanga, the Free State and North West – an area that stretches over 18 000 square kilometres. Rand Water’s distribution network includes over 3 300 kilometres of large diameter pipelines.

In 2015 Rand Water embarked on the largest pro-active bulk water pipeline condition assessment investigation ever in this country. An important part of the assessment includes in-line non-disruptive leak detection inspections covering just over 2 200 km of Rand Water’s bulk pipeline network.

The free-swimming SmartBall™ leak detection system is utilised to perform the majority of these inspections.

Due to the vast transfer distances and varying topography within the supply area, the Rand Water system is characterised by pipelines operating under extreme pressures (i.e. higher than 16 and up to 40 bar) and high flow velocities (i.e. higher than 2 m/s) which was historically beyond the safe operating limits of the standard SmartBall insertion and extraction equipment. This would have resulted in some of the pipelines not being inspected unless a solution could be found to safely insert and extract SmartBall from a high pressure/high flow pipeline.

Research and Development

Research and Development (R&D) is a key focus of Pure Technologies to continuously develop new inspection technologies and improve existing systems. SSIS laid down the challenge and the Pure R&D team got to work to find a solution for this uniquely South African problem.


Following extensive R&D and pre-delivery testing, the first of its kind Titan insertion and extraction system was delivered to South Africa in May. SSIS staff underwent shop training at the hands of one of the system’s mechanical design engineers from Pure, followed by hands-on training on a number of Rand Water pipelines.

To date the Titan system has been used safely and successfully on pipelines up to 2900 mm in diameter, operating at 2.5 m/s and at pressures of up to 18 bar.

In another first for the SSIS team, the Titan system will be used in August to extract the SmartBall from a system where maximum pressures could reach 35 bar. This will be the highest SmartBall extraction pressure on a water pipeline ever achieved in the world!

Pushing the Limits

The Titan system now enables SSIS to safely perform SmartBall inspections at up to 40 bar pressure, enabling the inspection of pipelines that was previously off limits.

This latest in a long list of world first’s, highest’s, biggest’s and longest’s illustrates SSIS firm commitment to the local water industry through the innovation and dedicated support from Pure Technologies. It again proves that no problem is too big to solve and every challenge can be overcome through dedicated teamwork and cutting edge innovation.

Through our relationship with Pure Technologies, SSIS offers a suite of innovative insection technologies backed up by sound engineering judgment and international best practice to pro-actrively manage risk, reduce cost for the pipeline owner and extend the service life of pipeline assets. Please This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to find out how we van assist you to Assess and Address™ your pipeline problems and extgend the life of your buried assets.


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