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In 2007 a large multi-national contractor to the water industry approached Network75 Ltd expressing concern over the large number of serious incidents that were occurring due to the build-up of air pressure within the water pipe network.
Network75 Ltd’s response to these concerns was to develop a training programme that would not only provide instruction to the workforce but could also clearly demonstrate the potentially fatal consequences of not fully appreciating the very real dangers of air pressure that develops in a water pipe network.
Network75 Ltd created and developed innovative practical rigs that clearly exhibit the danger of air pressure that builds up within a water pipe network.
When we were first approached to develop the training we had to think of innovative ways to display the danger that can occur from air pressure in pipes. Our first idea was the air powered rocket. This was relatively simple demonstration to create and would have a very high visual impact. There were some ready-made toys rockets on the market which we could utilise immediately.
Whilst the rockets were providing a very good indication of the stored energy in compressed air we realized we had to make a visual connection with the water industry. This was achieved by utilising an actual piece of water main from the water network. We experimented with both electrical and mechanical actuators but the mechanical actuator was a simpler design and therefore became our final choice. The current rocket launcher is the fourth iteration in the series and can safely launch rockets up to 1000 feet.
Whilst the development of the rockets was ongoing Steve Lloyd took inspiration from the film The Day of the Jackal. We concluded that if we could launch a projectile from a section of water main into a melon then this would provide a perfect visual and audio demonstration of the potential danger of air pressure in pipes. The biggest hurdle we encountered during the development of this rig was in the design of the projectile. The projectile is fired at the watermelon to display the force that can be generated by a waters mains pipe. After much experimentation we concluded that an aluminium “slug” to be the perfect choice of material. At a pressure of only 4 bar the demonstration can be highly effective.
The third rig we developed we affectionately named Waterworld. This project was the most complex to develop and required a significant amount of time. Whilst we were happy that we had developed practical demonstrations that can show the dangers of pressure we realised we needed a representation of the entire water network system that would demonstrate where pressure could be a danger.
The technical challenges of this rig were plentiful. Simple considerations such as the type of water vessel was causing practical problems however the biggest challenge was displaying a simulated head of pressure. In the end we designed our own electronic device which displays simulated pressures of over 20 bar.
Development of all three rigs is continuous so that we are always confident of providing the best practical demonstrations on our training courses.